You got a B+ on your last test and you don’t think it was good enough, despite the long hours you spent studying with baggy eyes in a dark room at 2:00 am. Or let’s say you are really hungry and want to eat some food, but you’re feeling too lazy to get out of your bed, so you just lay there with a growling stomach. What if someone told you that all of these situations have been affected by how your parents raised you? Your own personality and thoughts are developed because of how your parents treat you and respond to your actions.
According to Amy Morin, a psychotherapist, international bestselling author, and host of the Mentally Strong People podcast, “A parenting style can affect everything from how much a child weighs to how they feel about themselves. It’s important to ensure a parenting style is supporting healthy growth and development because the way you interact with a child and how a parent disciplines the child will influence them for the rest of their life.”
Countless researchers have taken the time to identify the four different kinds of parenting techniques: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive, and Uninvolved. These four terms can be compared to other styles like tiger parenting, helicopter parenting, snowplow parenting, green light parenting, and vacation parenting.
Similar to the previous terms, there are different ways of wording the many different parenting types.
Tiger parenting can be the most controlling over their children and by far the most strict. They are very involved in their children’s lives and want to be a part of every activity, every choice, and every action. They tend to be the most protective of their kids. Whether their intentions are out of love or not, they appear as controlling and power-hungry. Tiger parents may not allow you to eat dinner unless you’re caught up on your schoolwork or still take your phone from you before you go to bed.
Helicopter parenting gets its name from always hovering over their child, and always wanting to know what’s going on in their child’s life. They always refresh the parent portal to check your grades before you get the chance, and they need to have all of your homework done before you have free time.
Snowplow parenting is a perfect mixture of protecting, control, and flexibility because they clear the path, make sure everything is okay, and still let their kids journey on their own. Your parents may encourage you to do your homework, but they will always be proud if you don’t do well on a test as long as you try your best. They like to be involved in your life and may get clingy sometimes, but they also respect your space.
Green Light parenting is very easygoing and worry-free, like driving a car through a green light. You would never have a curfew or bedtime, but they always appreciate it when you’re home before it gets dark because they care about your safety. The choices you make are completely your own, but they still like to know what’s going on in your life. They most likely never make you do chores or give you any kind of responsibility.
Vacation parenting is the lowest on the scale when it comes to being a part of your life and being involved. A vacation parent would never come to watch your basketball games because they would rather do something else with their time. They probably wouldn’t greet you when you come home from school or make sure that you have any of your homework done before the next school day.
According to an anonymous sophomore who has tiger parents, “I see my mom every morning and usually ask her how they slept or what we’re doing later that day. But other than that I never willingly share any information about my feelings or how my schoolwork is going. They ask me a lot of questions when I get home from school, which usually includes a few comments regarding grades or some chore that I haven’t completed to their standards. A lot of things I do outside of school have to be 100% controlled and approved by my parents. They also have Life 360, and they get very crazy if I go more than 5 over the speed limit. When I want to make plans with my friends, I can never agree to anything without the okay from my parents. But of course, my parents go out of their way to ask what time I’ll be home, how long I’ll be gone, where I will be, etc. They even told me as a kid that if I was changing my destination or my friends and I went to someone else’s house, I had to call and make sure it was ok with my parents first. It was annoying. I guess they tried to teach me a little bit about responsibility, but I felt like they were always on my back and I never had any freedom. I actually feel like their overprotectiveness taught me to be more sneaky with things as I grew up.”
I have two helicopter parents; they both like to look over me and make sure I’m being the best self that I can be. If I’m ever not living up to my true potential, they get upset. They’re both teachers, and they always expect me to do my best when it comes to schoolwork. My mom will usually make sure that all of my homework is done before the next day of school. If I’m lying in my bed being lazy, they will normally come up into my room and ask if I have any homework left to do. I spend time with my parents outside of school sometimes, but I really enjoy my space from them every now and then since I see them at school all the time. My mother is a huge extrovert and always wants to know how my day went, what my plans are for the rest of the night, etc. When I was a freshman in high school, I had to turn in my phone to their bedroom every night at 9:00 pm. I also wasn’t allowed to have a phone until I was a freshman and I couldn’t get social media platforms like Snapchat until I turned 16, which was under a year ago. I felt late to the party, but they really just wanted to protect me from all of those social media dangers. I think the worst part about having two teacher parents who are very protective is when they check my grades. Whenever there’s a notification about a missing assignment, a bad score, or even what I got on a test I was stressed about, I will get a text or email from one of them (that might even include a screenshot) asking about a grade or score. My parents definitely make me more responsible and they push me to work hard. They’ve done a great job trying to prepare me for high school since I slacked off a lot in my middle school years.
Jr. Halle Pratt, who has two snowplow parents, explains that she and her parents “…just hang out together as a whole family all the time. We like spending time together and they’re always trying to help me when I’m stuck in a tough situation.” This is a great example of snowplow parenting because Pratt’s parents are clearing her path. Pratt goes on to explain that, “My family goes out for dinner a lot too. My favorite thing we do together is all of our traditions like getting Christmas trees together and making fondue on Valentine’s day. They’re pretty involved, they like to check up on me with how high school is going and how I’m doing mentally and emotionally. I like sharing things with my parents about other people, but I find myself being a closed book most of the time. They respect that I have my privacy, but my mom likes it when I share things with her. My parents care about how classes are going, so If I’m keeping up with homework then they allow me to make plans with my friends. They like to know who I’m hanging with and where I’m going when it comes to making plans. They usually ask questions about where I’m going and who I’m going to be with and when I plan to be home if I’m going out with friends, but other than that it’s nothing super serious. They’re easy-going, and I’m open about struggling in classes and things about school so they want to help me become a better student. But I keep mental issues to myself. They’re very responsible for the kind of person that I am today.”
Jr. Kate Roudebush, who has two green light parents, describes her relationship with her parents as very “… easygoing. I normally eat dinner with my family and go on walks with them. We end our nights by watching tv together. Other than that I like to have alone time in my room. They’re also pretty involved. I willingly talk to my mom if something’s going wrong or if I did poorly on a test, but they’re very good about giving me my privacy when I need it. My parents aren’t too controlling either, they’re pretty easy going as long as high school is going well. They appreciate it when I get good grades, but they care more about effort than anything else. When I want to make plans with my friends I am usually able to do so without asking my parents first. I’ll usually approach my parents and just tell them that I made plans with someone and they’ll be cool with it as long as I’m not too behind on schoolwork. I really like that since they’re so trusting I’m able to figure things out on my own and I can make my own mistakes. It makes me feel like an adult.”
Because the style is so rare, I was unable to find an accurate example from a high school student who had a vacation parent. However, an anonymous senior had some characteristics that he shared about his father that relate slightly to a vacation parenting style. He shared that “I wish I could spend more time with my dad, but he’s a very busy and hardworking man. He misses my tennis matches, but he still wishes me luck through a text message.” A traditional vacation parent would most likely miss a tennis match because they don’t want to put effort into supporting their child, but in this case, his father still showed his son that he cared. He adds that “…my dad never asks about school unless I have a test coming up. He’ll make a comment about studying every now and then. Having a father like him taught me to be more independent, but I wish I could have someone to really push me in school. Over the COVID shutdowns, I was really unmotivated because no one was pushing me to do my best. I had to rely on my teachers and classmates.”
You got a B+ on your last test and you don’t think it was good enough. Was it because your parents have always been strict with your grades and have taught you to have high expectations? Simple habits like sleep, eating, schoolwork, and even attitude are all caused by how we were raised by our parents. Take a look in the mirror and look beyond the blue eyes that you got from your mom, or the cheek dimples you got from your dad. Look inside and see your amazing sense of humor from your easy-going green light parent, or notice your proud sense of hard work and courage from your helicopter parent. Go thank your mom and dad for the person that you’ve become today.