Today, Patheos Progressive Christian blogger Benjamin L. Corey weighed in on a post written by Evangelical actor Kirk Cameron. According to the actor, children should not be given explanations for their parents’ decisions. He goes on to say, “Parents are called not to explain but to train,” and that children are better off learning to obey than to understand motivations.
I don’t really have a problem With Kirk Cameron. If he wants to go around making Christianity look awful, that’s his choice. What I do have a problem with is that his words contradict actual fact.
Psychologists have studied parenting style in depth. While there are many, they boil down to four: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive-indulgent, and permissive-indifferent. They are rated on two axes: amount of warmth and amount of control.
Cameron is advocating the authoritarian style, where parents hold absolute control and show very little warmth. All research has shown that this is worst of the parenting styles and has the most damaging effects on the children. An easy overview is available at about.com.
Authoritarian parenting leads children to:
- Association of obedience with love
- Low self-esteem
- Social awkwardness
These children follow rules, but they have no idea how to control themselves when no one is looking.
Authoritative parenting, which Cameron dislikes, is marked by high warmth, and high control. Parents display love and affection, yet also have control of their children. They discuss, negotiate, and explain their decisions with them. This kind of parenting, research says, is marked by kids who are:
- More In control of their emotions
- Socially competent
- Confident in their ability to learn new things
Which kind of child would you want to raise?
In his short piece, Corey advised his readers to completely ignore Cameron’s advice. Research backs him up completely. If you are a parent who wants to raise healthy, happy children, consider the motto: “What wouldn’t Kirk do?” as your guide. Your child will have fewer Growing Pains.