How Modern Parenting Styles Impact Motivation and Independence

Children playing at sunset on beach
Photo nattu|CC

Modern parenting styles — Helicopters, Tiger Moms, Free-range Parenting, Slow Parents, and Attachment Parenting – are nothing new;  they all have their roots in the classic styles based on parental control and support. But it’s how parents instill independence and motivation that’s rapidly changed.


Attachment Parenting

Lots of Support, Not a Lot of Independence, Highly Emotional

With 7 Billion people on the planet, it is by-far the most common global parenting style on earth. Pioneered by Dr. Sears in 1950s, attachment parenting promotes keeping your baby as close as possible at all times.

Think baby wearing, extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping.
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Tiger Parenting

Highly Controlling, Not a Lot of Independence, Low Emotional Support

Amy Sahn was first to coin “Tiger Mom”, but the parenting style has been around for centuries. The modern twist involves regimented academics and forced music lessons, coupled with family shame if children underperform.

Achievement motivation comes externally to please parents and satisfy cultural norms, rather than internally from the child.

Helicopter Parenting

Highly Supportive, Not a Lot of Independence

A helicopter parent (also called a cosseting parent or cosseter) is extremely involved in their children’s experiences and problems. The metaphor of “the mom who is always hovering around” has been around since the last ’60s, under the classic term the “overprotective” parent.

Children of overprotective parents can become ‘risk adverse’ and hesitant to tackle new challenges.

Hyper Parenting

(also called overparenting)
Highly Involved, Not a Lot of Independence, Poor Motivating

Any parenting style where parental involvement goes to extremes and parents are overly diligent. Tiger parenting, Helicopter parenting, and Attachment parenting are all forms of highly involved styles which can mimic hyper parenting.

When children feel parents are ‘always’ there, they can become less motivated to ‘do it themselves.’

Free Range Parenting

(also called simplicity parenting and slow parenting)
Lower Involvement, Lots of Independence

Slow parenting focuses on stepping back, fostering independence within children, and believing children learn best when they are internally motivated to discover the world themselves.

Classic versions include the Montessori philosophy of “Follow the Child.”

Fostering Independence and Achievement Motivation

Our job as parents is to raise children who can become independent, productive citizens.  When thinking about your own parenting style, consider the following:

  1. How much independence do you provide your child? Parents are more involved than in previous generations, but have they become too involved?
  2. How do you influence your child’s achievement motivation? A child can be internally motivated to succeed, or driven externally — either to fulfill parental expectations, societal norms, or avoid disciplinary actions.

Every parent wants to raise happy, healthy, successful children. But there is no single “best” style of parenting. Consider how your parenting choices impact your child. Be open to learning new parenting techniques and accepting the parenting styles of others.
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