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How and When to Tell Your Kids about Sex
parents.1 In this approach, some researchers divided parents into four
basic types according to two major factors: (1) what the parents expect of
their children, and (2) how they respond to the children emotionally. The
four resulting types of parents are negligent, permissive, authoritarian, and
authoritative.
LOW EXPECTATIONS
(Indulgent & Lenient)
HIGH EXPECTATIONS
(Disciplining)
Low Acceptance,
Support, and Love
Negligent/Neglectful
Parents
Authoritarian Parents
High Acceptance,
Support, and Love
Permissive Parents
Authoritative Parents
Negligent parents expect little of their children and offer little emotional
support. Permissive or indulgent parents are big on emotional support but
expect little from their children and do not challenge their children to “be
all they can be.” Authoritarian parents overemphasize discipline, expectations, and control of their children; they push their children hard but are
cold and disconnected emotionally, leaving their children feeling unloved
and valued only for their accomplishments.
Authoritative parents, however, offer both high expectations and lavish
love and support to their child. These parents want to teach their children,
but they combine an emphasis on discipline with warmth, communication,
respect, and affection. The authoritative parenting style is the most effective style
and produces the healthiest kids. Research suggests that “kids raised by authoritative parents are more likely to become independent, ­self-­reliant, socially
accepted, academically successful, and w
­ ell-­behaved.”2
This research reinforces that parenting is a way in which we symbolize
God to our children within our families. Righteousness (expectations) and
love (acceptance) are two fundamental facets of God’s character, and God’s
perfect balance of these two characteristics is at the heart of the gospel and
of good parenting. Parents are ambassadors or representatives of God in the
lives of their children.3
In having expectations of their children, parents embody God’s character
of justice and righteousness, in which he reveals his will for his people and
desires us to follow for our own good. In being accepting and loving, parents
embody God’s loving and merciful character, as he persistently pursues his
wayward people out of love until he brings them home.
6

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