Democratic Parenting Style: Treating Kids as Equals

5 min read

All of us have different parenting styles and it is really not fair to judge someone’s style good as or worse than ours. However, it is also important to understand various parenting styles so that you can imbibe best practices and more importantly, appreciate all parents. Here you will get a better idea about the democratic parenting style.
democratic parenting

In This Article

Parenting Styles

One mistake most of us parents do is not consider parenting as an important skill. For learning any other skill, we get proper training. But when it comes to parenting, most of us go by intuition and do not think of the bigger picture.

Reading about a particular parenting style and deciding on what type of parent you want to be is an important step. Unless you are consistent, your child will not benefit from what you do for him.

Before understanding what a democratic parenting style is, it is important to understand the opposite of democratic parenting, namely authoritative parenting. This will help to understand the importance of democratic parenting.

What is Authoritative Parenting?

This is a parenting style in which parents “rule” and children “obey”. Most of us in our generation were raised in this parenting style. The father was the most important person and decision-maker in the house.

Mom was in “second” place. And the kids were at the bottom of the pyramid. This hierarchy was apparent across society – be it in school or in the workplace. There was a boss and there were subordinates.

But society has not changed. Even in the workplace, it is more about collaboration and teaming and less about the boss giving orders and employees following meekly. These societal changes have driven a new more positive parenting style, called democratic parenting.

What is a Democratic Parenting?

Much like in a democracy, children are treated as “equals” in a democratic home. It is based on a ‘give and take’ policy. Here the children are given choices and they have the liberty to make decisions.

However, in exchange, they also need to face the consequences of their decisions, however unpleasant. This helps them make “responsible choices” and not go by whims and fancies.

That said, it is the duty of the parents to ensure that the consequences do not inflict physical harm or pain. The theory of democratic parenting style depends on:

  • Warmth and positivity
  • Understanding and love
  • Encouragement
  • Discipline, rules, and obedience
  • Dignity and respect

Democratic Parenting Example

Following are three examples of democratic parenting:

1. Your Child Misbehaves in School, and the Teacher Intimated You

Democratic parenting: You calmly tell them that you just want to know what happened. Listen to their side of the story without judging or interrupting.

When they’ve finished, give your input on the situation in a way that is not condescending, and explain to them what they did wrong and how they can do better in the future.

2. Your Child Doesn’t Want to do a Chore

Democratic parenting: Ask them why they do not want to do it. Get their side of things. There may very well be a reason why they cannot do the chore.

Be understanding, explain to them why the chore is important, and if they cannot do it, allow them to do it at another time or give an alternative. If they do not know how to, take the time to teach them.

3. Your Child Snapped at You

Democratic parenting: You do not yell at them or punish them in anger. Say “you are not being kind to me. Are you upset with me?” If they are, try to resolve the conflict in a peaceful, mature way.

Emphasize the importance of communication. If they are upset for some other reason, explain to them that it is not fair to take their frustrations out on other people. Then, you can work together to solve whatever issue they are facing.

What Democratic Parents Don’t Do?

This is an easily misunderstood parenting style. Remember that democratic parenting does not mean that:

  • Children can do anything they want.
  • They are free to do what adults are doing.
  • They are free to make choices, but the parents protect them from the consequences.

In fact, democratic parenting style is about respecting your children and treating them with dignity. The parents explain the choices, along with appropriate consequences to the children. And children make an informed decision, knowing well that they have to face the consequences of their decision does not go well.

Key Features of Democratic Parenting

Let us now see some of the key features of democratic parenting.

  • Democratic parenting style aids the child in making emotional adjustments with other family members.
  • In a democratic parenting style, you give your child the freedom to make decisions, so you expose your child to a variety of options to choose from.
  • When the child makes the right choice, s/he gets motivated with positive results and praise from friends and members of the family.
  • In order to make this parenting style work well, parents and children need to work together.
  • It is imperative that the children are more forthcoming about their good and bad actions.

happy mother and daughter talking

Advantages of Democratic Parenting

Following are some top advantages of democratic parenting:

  • Children become more independent as they are empowered to make their own decisions.
  • Parents and children develop a positive, mutually respecting relation, as they collaborate to set rules.
  • Since the child already knows the consequence of any decision, they are more prepared when things go wrong.
  • Children grow up with more confidence, with the ability to speak up about their choices and preferences.
  • They grow up to be more reasonable.
  • Children are more self-confident and have more self-esteem.

Disadvantages of Democratic Parenting

Following are a few disadvantages of democratic parenting:

  • Children of democratic parents are more likely to question their parents’ actions. So be prepared to be a good role model with reasoning and logic!
  • It is more effective in younger children and not effective in toddlers.
  • Sometimes parents do not follow the method accurately; they do some bit of democratic parenting, but then mix it with other styles. This can result in kids becoming spoilt and manipulative.
  • Sometimes, the consequences of the wrong decision taken by the child might upset them tremendously.

Things to Remember if You Want to be a Democratic Parent

Once you decide to practice democratic parenting style, remember the following tips:

  • Make sure everyone in the family understands this concept and follows it.
  • Treat children as equal – but understand that this does not mean they can do what they like without discipline.
  • Communication is the key here – keep everything transparent. The child should know the rules, the choices, and the consequences clearly.
  • Encourage your child to make decisions independently. However, be there to help them decide if they ask for help.
  • Collaborate with your child in every manner.
  • Do not dictate.

Do you follow a democratic parenting style in your house? Let us know your story in the comments section below.

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