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Parenting Advice, Canadian Style

October 18, 2013  |  Falmouth Enterprise

By Dr. Michael Bihari

During a recent family vacation in Canada I came across some interesting drug prevention literature focusing on parenting skills. Canada has one of the highest rates of marijuana use in the world and, like the U.S., is struggling with a significant epidemic of prescription pill abuse among youth.

The following is an example of how Canadian health officials are providing educational support for parents. It has good advice for all of us

What’s your Parenting Style?

No one has all the answers when it comes to how to raise safe and healthy teenagers who are prepared to succeed in the world. However, research does show that certain approaches to parenting can often make a difference. 

What type of parenting style do you have? Take this quick assessment to learn what experts have to say about what you are doing right and what you can improve on when parenting your teen.


You mostly use a Strict parenting style. While you are very good at setting limits, your relationship with your teen may include conflict and power struggles. You might also get frustrated trying to control your teen’s behavior.

What you do well:

  • Know the importance of setting limits and expectations.
  • Your willingness to discipline your child shows how much you love and care for child.
  • Keep track of your teen’s behavior and whereabouts.
  • Work hard to protect your teen from problem behaviors and getting into trouble.

What you can work on:

  • Create a more nurturing and warm atmosphere by expressing your love for him through praise and affection.
  • Listen and respect your teen’s opinions, even though you may not agree. This will help keep the lines of communication open.
  • Depending on what rule is broken, make sure the discipline is consistent with the consequences you’ve established.
  • When appropriate, provide opportunities where your teen can negotiate certain rules. Take time to explain to your teen why nonnegotiable rules are in place, and reinforce that it is because you love her and want her to be safe.
  • Shift your focus from what your teen is doing wrong to what he’s doing right. Spend more time reinforcing good behavior than punishing bad behavior.
  • Be curious rather than judgmental. Help your teen develop his ability to think and express his ideas and opinions.


You mostly use a Lenient parenting style. While you communicate well with your teen, you value your close relationship with your teen and may be reluctant to set limits or discipline. You might feel frustrated at times trying to get your teen to obey rules, and fearful that you will lose his love if you try to set limits.

What you do well

  • Give your teen a lot of love and warmth.
  • Provide a nurturing environment, full of respect.
  • Communicate openly.
  • Allow freedom of thought and expression.

What you can work on:

  • Actively provide more discipline and be firm.
  • Be consistent and avoid making empty threats.
  • Set and enforce clear limits and rules and consequences for breaking them in advance.
  • Routinely keep track of your teen’s whereabouts and activities.
  • Clearly communicate your expectations.
  • Network with other parents to make it easier to set and enforce rules.
  • Think about the values and abilities you want for your child as she matures and set expectations that will encourage her development.

Hands Off

You mostly use a Hands-off parenting style. While you give your teen a lot of independence, you probably don’t feel very connected to him. You may feel too busy or overwhelmed with other obligations to be very involved in your teen’s life.

What you do well:

  • You love your teen.
  • Place a high value on independence and self-regulation.

What you can work on:

  • Express interest and get involved in your teen’s life.
  • Actively set and enforce clear rules and consequences.
  • Consistently keep track of your teen’s activities and whereabouts.
  • Find a way to work through conflict instead of ignoring it. Call a family meeting, or seek a trusted professional to learn how.
  • Communicate more openly and listen more.
  • Provide warmth and love.
  • Talk with other parents so it’s easier to keep track of your teen.
  • Spend time together without interruptions.


A Balanced parenting style is shown to be the most effective parenting style for raising healthy, well-adjusted, successful teens.

What you do well:

  •     Nurture, discipline and respect your teen.
  •     Show love, warmth and interest.
  •     Communicate openly and listen well.
  •     Set standards and clear, reasonable limits.
  •     Keep track of your teen’s behavior and whereabouts.
  •     Enforce limits and consequences on behavior firmly and consistently.
  •     Allow freedom of thought and expression.

What you can work on:

Keep doing what you are doing! However, be mindful that one-size does not fit all, and as your teen gets older, continuously assess your teen’s risk. You are the best gauge of your teen’s needs and sometimes those needs include more rules rather than more freedom. Also, continue to build awareness of what is going on in your teen’s life by talking to other parents, family and friends. Discuss your rules with them, why you’ve established these rules and how you want them enforced. The best parenting balances love with limits and awareness.


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