Karen Loethen comes from the Midwest of America. She is an open and happy – nay joyous – atheist. She writes, and has for some time. Her core belief, as an optimist, is in the inherent goodness of all people. She has two children and an amazing husband. I asked about interviewing her on atheist parenting, but chose “Secular Parenting” for a more “inclusive” (as they say nowadays) title. So here we are, part 2, just for you.
Karen Loethen: Gosh, you’re not asking much, are you, Scott?!
I’m sure the internet has tons of great websites that discuss these styles of childrearing, but I’m happy to give some general concerns for each for you. In psychology, there are four major styles of parenting: authoritative, permissive, neglectful or uninvolved, authoritarian. These four parenting styles represent differing amounts of two major dimensions of parenting: the amount of responsiveness that a parent has to a child’s needs and behaviors, and the amount of control a parent seeks to extend to their child’s behaviors and choices.
Allow me to give you a brief rundown of each of the four styles beginning with authoritarian. As the name suggests, this parent insists on high levels of control and excessively low levels of response to a child’s needs and wants. This parent is often quite strict, has high expectations of their children, and an inflexible set of rules that the child is expected to follow.
Not surprisingly, children of these parents often experience depression, anxiety, difficulty making decisions, secret lives, difficulty making strong relationships, and a myriad of other problems that make emotional maturity a difficult thing to attain. Authoritarian parents, while intending to raise children that reflect well on the parents, sadly can pass along even more serious outcomes like substance abuse, emotional abuse, and unlawful behaviors of many kinds.
Unresponsive parenting might have a goal of raising highly independent children, or it may simply reflect a parent’s inability to raise children with their display of low levels of personal and familial control and low levels of responsiveness to the needs of their children.
This neglectful style of parenting can sadly raise children who have no skill in decision making, in learning to control personal behavior, in understanding what it means to be independent and mature. The children of these parents might be victims of major depression, suicidal feelings, personality disorders of all kinds, substance abuse, confusion about healthy and normal behavior in society, and unable to form close, healthy relationships.
Permissive parenting is when parents respond with low levels of control to their children and with high levels of responsiveness. These parents, probably with the thought that they were giving their children freedom and autonomy, actually neglect to give children something that they desperately need: parents who expect basic rules to followed in the family, essential schedules, reasonable expectations, necessary limits, and logical consequences.
The absence of these parenting essentials create children with oddly egotistical views of the world or children with extreme lack of a sense of self. These children will struggle to form healthy relationships, will indulge themselves while being unable to make healthy, smart decisions necessary for independence, and an overall absence of a basic understanding of social and community living.
The healthiest style of parenting is considered to be authoritative. These parents tend to display medium levels of control, a level that allows for learning and growth, and a warm and responsive atmosphere. Family rules are clear and understandable, parents expect good things from and for their children, and children are supported while being encouraged to be independent.
Children from these parents will often have higher levels of self-esteem because they have been taught how to operate optimally with regards to their own strengths and growth areas. These fortunate children are better able to form warm, lasting relationships and are generally productive members of society.
Jacobsen: Does choice in partner make all the difference in the world? From the perspective of a woman looking for a partner to having, bear, and raise children, what are the characteristics to look for, first the necessities or non-negotiables?
Loethen: Nah. LOL. Of course. Choosing a life partner is one of the most important and difficult decisions a human being will ever have to make. Depending on one’s parents’ styles of parenting, adults looking for life partners might be sadly attracted to immature partners, abusive partners, unhealthy partners of many kinds. I strongly believe that both men and women looking for partners need, always, to work to develop their own healthiest self first. The process of becoming emotionally healthier, working to gain
Choosing a life partner is one of the most important and difficult decisions a human being will ever have to make. Depending on one’s parents’ styles of parenting, adults looking for life partners might be sadly attracted to immature partners, abusive partners, unhealthy partners of many kinds. I strongly believe that both men and women looking for partners need, always, to work to develop their own healthiest self first.
The process of becoming emotionally healthier, working to gain self actualization, sets human being up to make healthier choices in their lives like choosing healthy partners, making smart financial decisions, becoming independent and interdependent, and many other growth qualities that ensure better decision making.
What qualities might one look for?Someone working on their own sense of self, someone seeking to improve themselves, someone who recognizes the necessity of fiscal conservatism, someone with interests and hobbies, someone who shares a similar philosophy to you, someone warm, someone who laughs, someone compassionate, someone who likes you back.
Someone working on their own sense of self, someone seeking to improve themselves, someone who recognizes the necessity of fiscal conservatism, someone with interests and hobbies, someone who shares a similar philosophy to you, someone warm, someone who laughs, someone compassionate, someone who likes you back.
Jacobsen: What are some of the secondary characteristics and attributes the partner must have when considering a partner for parenting with you?
Loethen: It’s extra nice when they are your best friend, when they are kind to strangers, when they love their family…
Jacobsen: Thank you for your time today, Karen – looking forward to next session.
Loethen: Next session? What have you got in mind, Scott? LOL
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