Wednesday’s Parent: How parenting styles help/hurt students

Natural parenting styles

Natural parenting styles, photo by Peter Gronemann

I’ve been mulling over two questions for this week’s post about parenting styles.

1. Parents want to help their children achieve success but do certain parenting styles help or hurt this goal?

2. When higher education is sought, what parenting styles better prepare students?

Parenting styles do not emerge from thin air. Perhaps you mimic your parents or vow to do the opposite. More likely than not, you do what makes sense and feels right to you. This sounds like there is a strong connection between personality and parenting style.

The road to college is bumpy, filled with potholes, curves and unexpected obstacles. Certain personality traits can help or hinder raising college-bound children during the journey:

Easy going The calming influence of an easy-going parent can be helpful. However, there are times when being too laid back may cause problems. Attention to detail is crucial because teachers and college admission officers focus on them.

Control freak Knowing what to do and when to do it is key from daily homework assignments to the college process of getting in and paying for it. The trouble develops when the parent assumes control and the child is going through the motions without owning it. For example, whose idea is it to play sports, study a subject, apply to a certain college or choose a particular major? Parents can’t expect a student to maximize her opportunities if her passions lie elsewhere.

Pessimist Many activities and schools receive applications exceeding the number of available spots. Pessimists can counter-balance unrealistic student expectations. Walk this line carefully because too much negativity can lower a student’s enthusiasm and self-esteem.

Optimist Building and shoring up a child’s self-esteem is a natural fit for an optimist. However, the danger is similar to the pessimist when parents convey unrealistic expectations for their student.

Procrastinator Putting off decisions until ready to make them is right up a procrastinator’s alley. However, deadlines are their death knell. Whether it’s signing up for an activity, class, college admission test, or submitting college, scholarship and financial aid applications, missing a deadline can cost dearly in time and money. In some cases, being one of the early applicants can provide an advantage.

Energizer bunny There is always something to do when it comes to education. From studying to participating in before and after school activities, students have a full day. Helping students get it done is the forte of the Energizer parent. However, too much action and too little downtime can lead to student burnout.

Hammock hugger Teaching children how to relax and savor present moments is a useful tool. But it is also important to plan carefully for the future. Higher education is costly and requirements for admission must be met.

There are many personality traits and parenting styles and they all can help or hinder parenting. It’s a matter of balance and timing. Sounds like life in general.

Read on for Suzanne’s analysis of finding your inner parent coach in her Wednesday’s Parent: Parenting Styles.


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

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