Motherhood is a sacred responsibility and privilege. Their role in nurturing children goes far beyond providing basic physical needs. They are also responsible for shaping a child’s mental and emotional well-being, which plays a crucial role in their development as they grow older. This is significant, as parenting styles and experiences are often a topic that comes up with the men I help who struggle with porn and sex addiction. 

First, recognize that parenting styles have a significant influence on a child’s mental and emotional resilience. In fact, research indicates that certain parenting styles can even contribute to the development of mental health issues later in life. 

There are four main parenting styles. Each style carries with it certain considerations as it pertains to human development.

1. Authoritative Parenting 

This style is characterized by high levels of warmth, responsiveness, and reasonable demands. Parents who are authoritative tend to be more engaged and proactive, often seeking out opportunities to foster meaningful conversations with their kids. They encourage a sense of independence yet set realistic and appropriate boundaries.

Children raised by authoritative parents tend to have better mental health outcomes, including higher self-esteem, lower rates of anxiety and depression, and increased resilience.

2. Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parents are strict and highly demanding but not very responsive to their children’s needs. While highly controlling, they are less affectionate and generally discourage open and honest conversations. These parents stress rules and conformity rather than autonomy and cirital thought.

This parenting style can lead to children feeling anxious, withdrawn, lacking in self-esteem and less emotionally resilient. All issues we often see with men and women who struggle with unwanted sexual behaviors.

3. Permissive Parenting 

Permissive parents are very responsive to their children’s needs, but have few demands. These parents are sometimes more worried about being their child’s friend rather than their caretaker and protector. In permissive homes there are few rules and even fewer expectations.

While children raised in permissive households may have high self-esteem, they may also struggle with impulse control and have difficulty coping with stress when things don’t go their way.

4. Neglectful Parenting

Neglectful parents are neither responsive nor demanding. Simply put, they appear to not care and treat their children as an unwanted distraction more than a cherished human being. The term abandonment is often associated with this parenting style. 

Children raised in neglectful environments are at a higher risk of developing mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. 

As such, mothers (and parents in general) need to be aware of how their parenting styles can profoundly impact their children’s mental wellness. Especially since a person’s formative years play a significant role in shaping their overall mental and social development as they get older. 

This is why when someone asks us, “What is the best resource you can recommend to help parents protect their kids from porn?” My answer is simple: 

You are the best resource. 

In other words, if you are engaged, proactive, honest, and nurturing, those parenting qualities will have a far greater impact on your child’s mental and sexual health than any book, course, or filter can ever hope to have.

That said, here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Be Consistent: Consistency in parenting helps children feel secure and builds trust. Inconsistent parenting can lead to confusion and anxiety in children

  • Set Boundaries: Setting clear, age-appropriate boundaries helps children understand expectations and develop self-discipline. Lack of boundaries can lead to feelings of insecurity and anxiety. This is very important when it comes to social media and digital devices.

  • Be Emotionally Available: Being emotionally available to your children means being there to listen to their feelings and concerns without judgment. This helps children feel supported and understood.

  • Encourage Independence: Encouraging independence in your children helps build their self-esteem and confidence. Even when it comes to professional counseling, a key goal is to promote and foster client autonomy. However, it’s important to strike a balance between independence and thoughtful guidance.

  • Encourage Open Communication: Encouraging your children to talk about their feelings, questions, fears, and concerns helps them develop emotional intelligence and cope with stress.

  • Promote Healthy Habits: Encouraging healthy habits, such as regular exercise, nutritious eating, and sufficient sleep, can have a positive impact on your children’s mental health.

  • Lead by Example: Children learn by example, so it’s important that you model positive behaviors and healthy coping mechanisms.

Conversely, here are some things to avoid:

  • Avoid Criticism: This does not mean you withhold from offering your opinions and perspectives, nor does it mean not giving constructive feedback. Those things are part of proactive parenting. But excessive negative and condemning criticism can be extremely destructive and lower their self-esteem contributing to feelings of inadequacy and low self worth.

  • Avoid Overprotection: While it’s natural to want to protect your children, being overprotective can hinder their autonomy and ability to develop resilience and cope with challenges. Boundaries are beneficial and helpful. Constraining your kids to a tightly fenced “safe” yet unrealistic version of reality is not.

  • Avoid Using Guilt or Shame: Using guilt or shame as a form of discipline can have long-lasting negative effects on your children’s mental health. This type of parenting tactic erodes a person’s sense of worth and identity but does nothing in helping them make constructive choices for the right reasons.

In conclusion, mothers play a crucial role in nurturing their children’s mental wellness. By adopting an authoritative parenting style, being consistent, setting boundaries, and promoting healthy habits, mothers can help ensure that their children grow up to be mentally healthy and resilient individuals. Of course, if you are married this is a team effort. Both parents should be involved in creating a warm, welcoming and nurturing environment for their children. Because by doing so you are contributing to their future health and overall wellbeing.