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What are Curling Parents?

Parenting styles vary from person to person due to different cultural upbringing and local traditions. Some parents are authoritarian and belong to the I told you so generation, while others approach parenting in a more democratic way. Some are overprotective, always wanting to shield their children from pain and suffering. But did you know that in Sweden, they are not called overprotective?

In Sweden, overprotective parents are not called “helicopter parents.” Instead, they are called “curling parents,” after the sport of ice curling. They tend to “smooth” the way for their children.

Where Did the Term “Curling Parents” Come From?

In Sweden, overprotective parents are often called curling parents in reference to the sport of ice curling. In 2004, Bent Hougaard, a Danish psychologist, coined the metaphor in his book  Curling-Forældre og Service-Børn (Curling Parents and Service Children). The psychologist referred to the part of the sport wherein a sweeper would use a broom to polish the ice so that the curling stone smoothly reaches its goal without any hitch.

Hougaard compared the icy sport to overprotective parents, where in the same way, these types of parents smooth their children’s icy path so that their children can avoid struggles as they attempt to reach their goals. According to the psychologist, children raised this way feel more entitled to things in society. 

These curling parents are called differently in British culture. Behavioral research strategists Kieran Flanagan and Dan Gregory coined the term Lawnmower parents in their 2014 book Selfish, Scared and Stupid, describing the exact same parenting structure as the curling parents.

The two argue that lawnmower parents, or overprotective parents, are partly to blame for individuals who grow up incapable of handling their future, particularly the millennial generation. Many American authors share their arguments discussing problematic characteristics of millennials and linking them to their helicopter parents. (Source: The Society Pages)

Different Types of Parenting Styles

Overprotective parenting is not the only style of parenting. Several sociologists note a few other styles, and here is a brief description of each.

The Authoritarian Parent

Authoritarian parents are very strict and form rules that their children must follow. If they don’t, they are usually punished harshly. Overbearing parents usually equate obedience to love, and open communication is generally not an option. Most of the time, these parents will exert complete control over their families.

The Authoritative Parent

This type of parenting style often encourages independence, helping children learn that they can accomplish things on their own. These parents have reasonable expectations from their children. They understand that they are young need meaningful experiences and freedom to learn new skills as they grow. Authoritative parents allow their children to fail in the hopes of them learning that it is normal.

The Permissive Parent

Permissive parents are similar to authoritative parents who are generally supportive emotionally and are very responsive to their children. One of their fundamental differences is that they typically have no notion of keeping their children under control. They often do not impose limits on their children. This parenting style often leads to children not being required to have good manners nor taught to be responsible with household chores. Children usually grow up impulsive, aggressive, and lacking independence and personal responsibility.

(Source: Michigan State University)

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