A Chip Off the Old Block

Cat Canedy (12) never attended sleepovers or summer camps. She was permitted to go to school, come home, do homework and go to bed — only to rise the next morning and follow the same routine. Like most kids, before middle school, Canedy lived under the rules set by her father, which left her unable to pursue her passions or express herself, in her estimation. During her middle school years and at the start of high school, Canedy participated in as many extracurriculars as possible — like dance, theater and track — “to get away from [her] father.”
“Since those were school activities or activities that would help me in the future, I was allowed to do those, but [I was always] being driven to the activity and being driven home, [with] nothing before or after,” Canedy said.
The American Psychological Association classifies parenting styles into three general groups — authoritarian, authoritative and permissive. Authoritarian parents expect obedience and adherence to the strict rules they set, authoritative parents set rules but are responsive and open to discussion, and permissive parents yield to their children’s wills.
“My dad was very authoritarian; he had this thing where he had to control you or [else] he felt like he was going to lose you, so that was his parenting style,” Canedy said.
Counselor Jayme Cambra said that most high school students come into conflict with their parents because they want to be more independent, while their parents still want to take care of them.
“I don’t think there is one specific parenting style that is more problematic,” Cambra said. “I think [something more important] than the parenting style is the long-standing relationship a student has with his or her parents. Trust is important in developing a strong relationship between an adult and child.  There is a unique balance that parents have to have when supporting their children as well as holding their child accountable for his or her actions.”
Canedy said since she has lived with her mother only she has had more freedom and been able to say things she would not have been able to say if her father were living with her. Canedy’s mother says her goal was always to raise strong, independent children, and she has done that.
“I do more things now because he was very: ‘You have to stay home and do this’ — so with him out of my life, I was able to [have more] control,” Cat Canedy said. “My mom was, to a certain extent, contolled by him, too, but once he was gone, my mom became a very free-willed person as well.”
According to Cat, her mother’s “do it yourself, learn it yourself” parenting style contributed to her independent nature.
“I traveled a lot by myself through high school,” Canedy said. “My mom was very supportive of just me doing my own thing.”
Yuhong Ning, Stephanie Hu’s (11) mother, also has a very open, hands-off parenting style.
“We are very open and give [our children] freedom,” Ning said. “We let them make their own decisions, make their own mistakes, learn from their mistakes and grow, and provide guidance and help when they really need it. We do set strict rules for safety purposes.”
Some of those strict rules include practicing new routes with her parents before driving alone and not answering the door or home phone when Hu and her sister are home alone.
“Parenting is hard and kids are complex,” said Biology teacher MaryAnn Rall, mother of two children. “We just try to show our kids that we love them every day, and we try to teach them that life is bigger than ourselves.”
According to the APA, there is a tendency for children with authoritarian parents to have low self-esteem, children with authoritative parents to have good social skills, and children with permissive parents to be immature. Those associations are only correlations and do not necessarily imply causation. While parents do have roles in influencing children, many parts of a child’s personality are shaped by predisposition to a certain personality or interaction with peers. 
“Parenting styles play a role in developing a child’s behavior, among many other things such as a child’s innate personality [and] life circumstances,” Cambra said.
While Rall also agrees that many other factors influence the development of children, she believes that “parents are a big part of development.”
“I think that staying involved with our kids’ lives at every stage can help them feel secure and loved, which can translate into a healthy teen and adult,” Rall said.
According to Hu, who describes her parents as having an authoritative parenting style, her personality and lifestyle have been influenced by her parents.
“Most of the time my parents are very lenient and understanding, and they try to be optimistic, so I feel like that’s definitely rubbed off on me,” Hu said. “They always emphasize safety, health, and happiness as the most important things in life, so I guess I’m also pretty conscious of my sleep patterns and eating habits.”
In addition to having habits ingrained from her parents’ direct teachings, Hu takes the initiative to advance her studies. Because her parents are “successful,” but rarely pressure or push either her or her sister to do anything, Hu said she feels obligated to do the “best [she] can to try to live up to their legacy.”
“My parents’ attitude of ‘do what you like’ and ‘find your own passion’ is really one of the main influences that I think has gotten me to where I am now,” Hu said. “Especially over the course of high school, I felt like I’ve finally begun to appreciate their laid-back attitude toward pushing my sister and me to do what they think we should do to be successful, and so I have developed a decently self-driven, self-motivated nature.”
According to Hu, her parents not only encourage her to explore her own interests, but also “pull [her] back so that [she] does not overload [herself] with too many things.”
Hu approves of her parents’ parenting style and intends, for the most part, to follow their example in the future.
“Sometimes they get a bit too cautious and then limit some of the activities I can do, which would be one thing that I would change,” Hu said. “For example, my parents have always thought gymnastics was too dangerous, since there is a high risk of injury, and even though I wanted to do it for many years when I was younger, I never got the chance.”
Since Hu’s parents understand her and her sister’s mindsets, she and her sister try to understand their parents’ logic in return. However, Cambra said that it is hard for students to understand a parent’s position until they are parents themselves, a claim reflected in Canedy’s initial struggle with understanding her mom’s parenting style.
“As a younger person I was kind of upset about [having to be independent], like having to get a job, make my own money and all that,” Canedy said. “But for [the end of] high school and on, learning to live on your own is a great experience to have.”
Canedy can now attend overnight camps. Whenever there is a break, she is allowed to book her own airplane flight and travel by herself. Although Canedy was raised with different parenting  styles than Hu, each became her own person and took away valuable knowledge from her experiences with her parents.

  • blake

    I miss being her dad.