Parenting Styles: Is It Better to Be Strict or Laid Back?

Over the weekend, while reading the New York Times, I stumbled upon a very thought-provoking article on the trend of teenagers spending the night at their significant others’ houses. The writer, Henry Alford, interviewed parents who are okay with the idea of it, at least to some degree.

The article left me wondering whether the girlfriend-boyfriend sleepover under Mom and Dad’s roof is appropriate after a certain age, after a certain period of dating, or never appropriate at all. While Alford did not interview parents who aren’t in favor of the co-ed sleepover, I know there are plenty of those as well.

The piece also poses a greater question. Is it best to parent conservatively, like our parents and grandparents probably did, or should we be taking a more progressive approach, like the people in Alford’s article? Which parenting style is best?

Coincidentally, I spent my high school years split straight down the middle between liberal and conservative America and have seen both sides of the coin. During my first two years of high school, in the San Francisco Bay Area, I saw a lot of progressive parenting. There was a laid back attitude; friends’ parents asked me to call them by their first names and a barrier was broken. We were friends on an equal playing field. The issue of spending the night at a significant other’s house was not an issue. In fact, it was often suggested or encouraged.

Once I moved across the country, everything changed. My peers at an all-girls school in Nashville, Tennessee, would not even think to suggest any co-ed co-habitation under their parents’ roofs, at least for the most part. There were curfews and rules I had never been exposed to in California. I might as well have been Cady from Mean Girls, fresh off a plane from Africa.

Parenting is about making choices. You have to decide how much you will get involved in your child’s schoolwork. You have to decide if and how you are going to ground your children and how that will change with age. Though I did just generalize parenting in the two places I lived in during my school years, each family is a little different. Each family has to decide what’s best for themselves.

What do you think? What kind of parenting style do you have?

Image: Family using laptop, via Shutterstock

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