Who Rules—You or the Kids? Rate Your Parenting Style

"No means NO!" Your hands fly over your mouth in absolute terror. That wasn't your voice, it was your mother's—one of her favorite phrases roaring right out of your mouth!

Did you know that your style of parenting is greatly influenced by how YOU were raised? Your family's values, culture, and types of discipline are all part of how you parent your children. And even when you swore to yourself in a teenage moment of despair and rage "I'll never do that to my kids,"—well, the truth is, you often do!

Knowing your parenting style can help a lot when you think that as you copied your parents, your kids will most probably copy you. Are you a "My Way or No Way," "Anything Goes," or "Top Banana—with Appeal" type of parent? Take this quiz and find out!

Which choice best describes your typical response to each family dilemma?

  1. Your three-year-old has a major "gimme" meltdown at the mall. Everyone is staring. You:
    a) Get angry. You know she is taking advantage of being in public to get what she wants.
    b) Buy the toy so she stops crying.
    c) Move to a new spot and calmly wait her out or leave the mall and come back when she is not so tired.

  2. You have the major holiday dinner—the yearly test of your cooking and decorating skills. Your six-year-old will never be able to sit through the whole meal—which in your family is all four courses and the dessert and coffee! You:
    a) Tell her that she must stay at the table until the meal is over—and she must sit quietly, behave, and show good manners.
    b) Give her macaroni and cheese an hour before the meal and then let her come and go.
    c) Remind her that the family rule is staying at the table until everyone is finished but this time only she can excuse herself after the main course.

  3. You ask your child to do something and she doesn't. You:
    a) Yell at her and, when she doesn't give in, give her a punishment.
    b) Forget about it and go on to something else.
    c) Get down at her level and repeat the request, letting her know the consequences if she doesn't do what you are asking.

  4. Your living room is a major disaster—toys have piled up throughout the day. You:
    a) Scream at her to clean up her mess—whatever isn't cleaned up is going in the garbage.
    b) Clean up for her. After all, you can do it faster and it isn't worth the effort to make her do it.
    c) Set the kitchen timer for a reasonable amount of time (5 minutes, 8 minutes, etc.). If the toys aren't put away by the time the buzzer sounds, she won't be able to watch her favorite afternoon TV program.

  5. You catch your teenager smoking a cigarette. She says, "You smoke. So why can't I?" You:
    a) Ground her for a month and tell her it doesn't matter what you do, she's the kid and better get with the program.
    b) Realize she is right and light up together—thinking maybe you can both try the patch when life is less stressful.
    c) Think she has a case and decide you had better quit for good this time. However, you remind her she is not an adult, smoking is illegal, and there are consequences if she smokes—both family consequences and health consequences.

  6. You discipline by:
    a) A spanking on the bottom.
    b) Reasoning with your child to understand why she misbehaved.
    c) A "time out" or a consequence for the specific misbehavior.


Which answers did you select the most often?

If you picked mostly As, you have a "My Way or No Way" type of parenting style. This is the most traditional style of parenting. Parents set non-negotiable rules. Children are punished when rules are broken. This style has some strengths—children learn to be obedient, but children of such authoritarian parents can also become very rebellious. They haven't been taught how to control their behavior without the fear of a strict punishment.

If you picked mostly Bs, you have an "Anything Goes" type of parenting style. This is a permissive style of parenting—children are equals and parents are friends, not authority figures. Children set many of their own rules: for bedtime, meals, finishing homework. Children know that they are loved, but they never learn consequences for misbehavior.

If you picked mostly Cs, you have a "Top Banana—with Appeal" type of parenting style. This is the middle ground. You set consistent limits for your children and routines for them to follow, but you are open to negotiating. Children and parents respond to each other with mutual respect. Parents role-model the behavior they expect from their children. Children feel secure and have self-respect.