PARENTING PRINCIPLES: Jess Robson with daughters Lou, 5 and Arky, 2. Picture: Zizi Averill
PARENTING PRINCIPLES: Jess Robson with daughters Lou, 5 and Arky, 2. Picture: Zizi Averill

‘Old school’ parenting style is what works for this mum

JESS ROBSON describes her parenting as 'old school' and agreed it could be called 'authoritative'.

"My husband and I both grew up on farms. We were brought up to respect others and we got a smack now and then," Mrs Robson said.

"We're very firm when it comes to teaching respect and manners. We were raised very similarly and naturally, we have similar values when it comes to parenting."

Her comments come as new research shows a majority of Australian parents now adopt an "authoritative" approach to parenting where they explain the reasons for their rules, to help children who ask "why" all the time.

New data from 5000 parents surveyed by School TV, an online educational platform used by schools across the country, has revealed 80 per cent of mums and dads think being warm and responsive, with clear rules and high expectations is the best way to raise a child.

The survey found these parents with children age 18 and under, want to be supportive of their children but also want them to become independent.

Just 9.1 per cent have an "uninvolved" approach where they have no rules for their children, while 7.3 per cent are "authoritarian" with a strict regimen where they expect blind obedience.

A further 3.8 per cent said they adopt a "permissive" style where they let their children dictate the boundaries.

The survey also looked at a range of scenarios.

It found 62.6 per cent disagreed with the idea that children should be told exactly what to do and how to do it, while 27 per cent said they somewhat agreed and 7.2 per cent said they disagreed.

A further 88 per cent said they should discuss reasons behind their rules.

It also revealed 81.4 per cent would comfort a six-year-old scared by a boogieman under the bed by shining a torch to show there is nothing there.

But 13 per cent would climb into bed to reassure them, and 4.7 per cent would say there are no such things as monsters and demand they go back to bed.

The mum of three girls - 2, 5 and 8 years old and another on the way - had noticed many young parents today were resistant to set boundaries at the risk of upsetting their children.

"Children want boundaries and rules - don't get me wrong - we let our girls lead their own way," she said.

"We're not ones to helicopter parent, especially when they're outside playing and exploring,

but we have clear boundaries and rules."

One of the biggest challenges Mrs Robson had come across as a parent was receiving judgment from other parents.

"Some parents tend to stick their noses in other people's business or give advice - advice can be good, but judgment isn't always positive. I find most parents have different ideas on parenting to ours.

"A lot of parents these days are quite regimented when it comes to routine, but young children aren't always going to stick to a routine.

"You have to be flexible and it's important to teach your childrent to be flexible, too. Especially as life becomes busier and busier."

Mrs Robson said if she could give one piece of advice to a new mum it would be: "there isn't always a reason".

"I hear a lot of younger mums looking for answers on why their child did this or that. They're a child - there is rarely a reason, it is what it is.

"These are the hardest times of your life, raising little ones. You've just got to hold on for dear life, support each other as much as you can and survive."

Clinical Psychologist Dr Hannah Norris said authoritative parenting had the best outcomes for children.

"Psychological research suggests children raised by authoritative parents tend to have higher academic performance, self-esteem, better social skills, less mental illness and lower levels of delinquency," she said. "With children of more permissive parents, psychological research has shown they have difficulty following rules, they can have less self control and can encounter more problems in their relationships and social interactions."

Dr Norris said she did not want parents to be afraid of being "judged or blamed" but they should adjust their parenting style to suit the needs of their child.

Relationship and family therapist Tess Reilly Browne, who practised in Mackay for almost a decade but still counsels her Mackay clients via video chat from Melbourne, said parents needed to ask themselves 'what sort of adult do I want to create within the world?' and then decide how to create that.

"Parenting styles follow a pendulum swing through the ages and in the not-so-distant past we've experienced a spate of more liberal parenting," she said.

"This has resulted in educators struggling with behaviours at school due to a lack of assertive parenting at home.

"Children, like adults, need boundaries to function in society. Boundaries allow children to feel safer and calmer because the repercussions are clear.

"On the other side of the coin, extremely authoritative parenting can create an overly stubborn personality in a child or one that simply lies down and is puppetted.

"Parents need to ask themselves, 'what sort of adult do I want to create within the world?' from that they need to decide how to create that.

"For instance, if you want to create a kind respectful one then you need to reflect that.

"How you're treating the child and the example you are presenting to the child will have the most impact on their development."

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