The Purposeful Parent: Child Expectations

Purposeful parent

How much should we expect of our children with regard to self-care and contribution to the family as a toddler, as a young child, as a teenager, and as an adult? This is an ongoing dilemma for most all parents beginning as early as post-infancy and continuing on through adulthood. It is the basis for many conflicts and discipline issues.

Do I expect enough from my child?  Do I expect too much from my child?

The best response to these queries comes from a couple of experts for whom I have very high regard.  Shauna Shapiro, PHD and Chris White, MD.  I often refer parents to their collaborative masterpiece Mindful Discipline-A Loving Approach to Setting Limits & Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, 2016.

In the following excerpt the authors site the research of Diana Baumrind (discussed in Grolnick 2009) which provides some scientific insight.

“In her research, Baumrind identified two primary aspects that were predictive of a child’s well being and capacity for emotionally intelligent self-discipline:

Responsiveness means the parent is able to recognize the child as his own person and to respond in a way that reflects understanding of the child’s desires, feelings, and beliefs, and communicates to the child, ‘I see you, hear you, and feel you, and will do my best to meet your needs.’ 

Demandingness involves asking the child to contribute to the harmony of the family and to her self-care to the degree that she is developmentally capable.  Although this word may sound a little harsh, it simply means asking your children to try and do their best to be respectful and responsible.”

A family works together and each member is responsible for contributing at their own level, but love requires that all contribute.

Fantastic! But what to do with this information?

Well, I have made two handy little charts based on this research showing how use of these two dimensions determines our style of parenting and how our parenting style affects our children.

Two Predictors of Parenting Style

Responsiveness Demandingness
Authoritarian Low High
Premissiveness High Low
Authoritive High High


Parenting Style and our Child’s Behavior 

Children in Pre-school Children ages 8-9 Teen Years
Authoritarian More moody, unhappy, more aimless, difficulty getting along with others Lower in achievement, motivation and social assertiveness High in seeking adult approval, low motivation and lacking autonomy
Permissiveness Lack impulse control, more self centered, low in achievement, motivation Lower in cognitive and social competency Low motivation, lower self regulation, higher rates of drug use than both other parenting styles
Authoritative More energetic, socially outgoing, more independent High in achievement, motivation, friendly and socially responsive Highly individuated, mature, strong in self regulation, remain highly motivated academically


The Authoritative parent is kind, courteous and firm.

While this is a heck of a lot of information for busy parents, I believe any Purposeful Parent would be pleased to obtain it for use as a reference.   It reminds us that our child is indeed an individual with her own desires, emotions and beliefs.  This also remind us that boundaries and expectations are essential but need to be based on the developmental ability of our child. The Authoritative parent knows that balance between the two is the key to emotional/social development.

—For additional information on stages of child development, click here.

About the author

Kate MartinKate Martin has been a high school teacher for 27 years and retired from the Racine Unified School District in 2015. 

She taught students with special needs as well as those in general education. While working with hundreds of parents over the years, she discovered that there was a significant lack of resources and educational opportunities to help them navigate the many demands of parenting today. 

For this reason, in 2013 she founded The Purposeful Parent, offering workshops and resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers.  

Buy the Book by Kate Martin: The Best Thoughts To Think Five minutes Before Bed