New research suggests a parenting style in which fathers blend love, high expectations and respect for the child’s autonomy maintains respect even among children who have moved outside the house.
The finding comes from research by Larry Nelson, Ph.D., a BYU family life professor. Nelson discovered dads who use this approach enjoy a closer relationship with their children, and the children demonstrate higher levels of kindness and self-worth.
“If their child is struggling to pick a major in college, these dads don’t tell their kids what they think it should be,” Nelson said. “Instead they’ll say ‘Have you ever considered this’ or ‘Here’s one advantage of that.’ And when the child makes a choice, they say ‘I’m proud of you.’”
Scholars call this approach “authoritative parenting” – not to be confused with “authoritarian” Tiger Mothers or helicopter parents who swoop in to fix everything themselves.
“They know what’s going on in their children’s lives, and we’re seeing that it’s because the kids are willing to tell them,” Nelson said. “The outcomes are better when parents aren’t controlling.”
The research appears in the June issue of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. A few years ago Nelson published research showing that parents didn’t consider their college students to be adults yet – and the kids agreed.
The data for the studies comes from PROJECT READY, a broad effort looking at young people and the transition to adulthood. The ongoing project began in 2004 with an extensive survey of college students around the country.
Source: Brigham Young University