Studies show that good parents are those who consistently support their children. In addition, good parents would probably agree that raising children who contribute to their communities and are productive, well adjusted and grow into conscientious adults is the ultimate goal. What does it mean, though, to be "supportive?" Here are some qualities of supportive, good parents.
Good Parents Encourage Their Children to Express Themselves
Good parents allow children to be who they really are, regardless of how that reflects on the parents. This freedom of self-expression leads to higher self-esteem and stronger personality development. Self-expression is especially crucial during the tween years when a child is searching for her true identity. If a tween is not allowed to explore many possible selves, he may instead act how his parents or other influential people want him to, which may cause identity issues later on.
Good Parents Make Themselves Available
In our busy world, no one can be available to their children 24-7, by any means. Instead, good parents make time each day to focus solely on their children, without distractions from television, computers or phones. Dedicated quality time opens the lines of communication, which is especially important as tweens face potentially heavy issues like bullying, anxiety and mood changes.
Good Parents Listen Actively
Good parents engage in active listening, in which they restate and mirror back what their child is saying and feeling. Doing so makes a child feel truly heard. Supportive parents also encourage their children to communicate their emotions by asking questions like, "How did that make you feel?" Finally, good parents avoid giving advice unless specifically asked and refrain from interjecting personal anecdotes into the conversation. Listening means listening, not talking.
Good Parents Demonstrate Warmth
A hallmark of the best parenting style, called authoritative parenting, involves showing warmth. Warmth is demonstrated through positive facial expressions, patient actions and affectionate speech. Being warm does not mean agreeing with everything your child does or says. Rather, it means consistently showing emotional affection toward the child as a person even when disciplining him for inappropriate actions.
Good Parents Set Clear Boundaries
While it may be tempting to be friends with your child first and foremost, good parents respect that there is a parent-child hierarchy. Children thrive when there is structure in their lives, and rules help create that structure. Therefore, supportive parents set up clear rules and consequences and follow through on discipline when boundaries are crossed. Doing so helps kids learn responsibility. During the tween years, good parents often allow children to be part of the decision making process about what constitutes reasonable rules and punishments.
Chaplin, Lan Nguyen and John, Deborah Roedder. Interpersonal influences on adolescent materialism: A new look at the role of parents and peers. Journal of Consumer Behavior. 2010. 20: 176-184.