Back to articles How do you Measure up on the Parenting Scale?

Categories: Parenting

Not sure if you have too much freedom or too much structure in your home? Answer these questions to find out.

By answering the following questions honestly, this test will identify where you are on the parenting style scale.  Do not give the answers that you know are right, but rather give the answers that you think you would do in that given situation.  Answer each question using the following scale. 
Be honest and good luck.


ALWAYS          FREQUENTLY          SOMETIMES           SELDOM           NEVER


1.  Your pre-teen dawdles and is late for school.  As a result she misses her school bus.  You drive her to school.


2.  You walk into your child’s room and notice that the laundry is still not placed in the hamper.  You put his clothes away for him.


3.  Your child needs to come in for his bath.  He asks to play for five more minutes.  You say “NO.”  He pleads with you, “Oh please, I promise I will take my bath in ten minutes.  I want to finish playing my game.”  You let him stay ten more minutes.


4.  You are taking a bath and your kids are in the other room fighting.  It got to the point where they are screaming.  You rush out of the bath to find that they are fighting over the television set.  You solve the problem for them in anger.


5.  Your teenager went to bed and you noticed that the garbage was not yet taken out.  The little darling must have forgotten.  You take out the garbage for him. 


6.  For the second time this month your seven-year-old daughter forgets her homework at school.  “I’m going to get in trouble”, she says to you.  You help her out and write a note to her teacher to explain the situation. 


7.  Your teenager child tells you that he wants an earring.  “Everyone in school has one”, he explains.  You are not crazy about the idea but you swore that you would not be like your parents who never understood.  You let him have an earring.


8.  Your toddler accidentally poured his milk onto the floor.  You clean it up for him


9.  You call your child for dinner.  He asks if he can watch television for ten more minutes.  You let him watch television for ten more minutes.


10.  Your teenager just left his bike outside again.  You told him several times to put it away.  You put the bike away for him but you make sure that he attends your lecture.


11.  You are late for work and your child is still not ready.  He appears to be having some trouble putting on his shoes.  You put on his shoes for him.


12.  Your child is trying to tell you something.  It is taking him a long time to say what he wants.  You are rushing to get dinner on the table.  You stop to listen.


13.  Your teenager just informed you that he would be spending the weekend with “a friend”.  It appears that he may be hanging around with friends that you told him not to hang around with.  You don’t want to appear untrustworthy so you let him go.


14.  Your son accidentally broke your spouse’s favorite centerpiece.  Your spouse will be home in less than an hour.  You really do not want your spouse angry with the kids.  Besides, they are kids; they were doing what comes naturally.  You fix it so that it will not be noticed.


15.  Dinner is being served and your child comes to the table, looks at the plate and states, “I don’t like this stuff, it stinks”.  You make him something else to eat.


16.  Your child is ready to go out in a revealing outfit.  You pleaded with her not to wear it in public.  You let her go out wearing it anyway.


17.  The rules in your home are made mostly by you.  Your kids do their best to try to break the rules that you set.


18.  You just received a phone call that your child is in jail.  You do all in your power to get him out of trouble.

19. You are in line at the grocery store and your child is crying for a small toy she wants. People are watching you.  You buy it for her so she will stop crying.


20.  Your kids are arguing at the dinner table.  You plead and bribe them to stop arguing and continue eating.





1” point for every “always

2” points for every “frequently

3” points for every “sometimes

4” points for every “seldom

5” points for every “never



Add up your points and match your score with the parenting scale.


0-30 Points:        The ONE Household

31-70 Points:      The FIVE Household

71-100 Points:    The TEN Household

Note:  If you scored a 73 that does not mean you live in a 10 household, but rather in a seven household.  If you score a 98,  you live in a nine household, etc.


The 10 Household: Total Structure and No Freedom

The home tends to run with stern limits and no freedom.  Children are told what to say, how to act, and when to speak.  Morals and values are not demonstrated; they are demanded (I.e., “You MUST respect me, I am your father.”).  Problems are solved with punishment.  Children comply out of fear of the punisher or punishment rather then faith in themselves. Co-operation in this home comes after much threats, warnings, and interrogations.  Children in this household have little opportunity to express their feelings, thoughts, needs or rights.  Children receive the submissive message that they cannot comply by their own wishes, but rather by the rules and wishes of other people.  Alfred Adler names this form of parenting as the Autocratic Style.


Children, who live in a household where there is too much structure and very little (or no freedom), will often rebel.  Some children, if not all,  will store up their rage and resentment until they are older.  In the book, ‘Dr. Spock On Parenting’, Benjamin Spock believes this theory to be true.  He states that children who store up their anger inside will later let it loose in aggressive acts against themselves or others (usually with their loved ones).  They are not allowed to express their true feelings without fear of punishment or having love and affection withheld. 


Some parents declare they will never raise their children the way they were raised and instead divert to a total opposite realm of child rearing.  They will become extremely permissive and allow their children to do what they were not allowed to do when they were young.  They adopt to live in “The One Household”.


So what can you do?  Take it easy.  Allowing children to have some say in what goes on will not ruin the home.  Give them choices, within limits.  Even though you know the answer, simply ask them what THEY think needs to be done.  You will soon notice that your children are cooperating and becoming responsible just a little more.


The compliance derives when a parent offers the child choices (within limits) and holds the child accountable for the choices that he makes.  The child now feels some sense of control of what goes on in his life.  When a child feels some sense of control as to what is going on in his life, he feels empowered.  When a child feels empowered, he is willing, ready and able to comply and cooperate.  


The 1 Household: Little or No Structure
and Absolute Freedom


In this household, children have absolute freedom without limits. A parent “attempts” to solve problems by persuasion (ie,  “Please,” a parent may say, “Can’t you finish your breakfast?”).  There does not seem to be any form of structure demonstrated to the child.  Structure is not expected or demanded by the parent.  A parent probably finds it difficult saying “no” to the child.  A parent may tend to rescue, nag, lecture, bribe, and do everything for the child.  Alfred Adler names this form of parenting as the Permissive Style.


What is a parent to do?  In this household, a parent must demonstrate more structure.  Say things once and leave the room.  “You may go outside and play after you put the books away on the shelf.”  If certain things are not done to your satisfaction, make sure that the appropriate consequences  follow.  The child does not go out. You will soon notice that the kids will begin listening to you a little more because you follow through with the natural and logical consequences. 


The 5 Household: Balance of Structure and Freedom


In this home, children have freedom and structure that compliment each other.  You do not demand morals and values, you demonstrate them.  For example, you do not demand that your children be responsible, tell the truth, or be respectful.  You are a positive role model of responsibility, honesty and integrity.  As a result, your children may know themselves better and they are, therefore, not easily manipulated by their peers or you.  You treat your children as equal human beings with dignity and respect.  Studies have  demonstrated that parents who encourage their children to take responsibility, get their kids involved in the daily decisions making process, hold their children accountable and who allow their children to experience the consequences for their choices, have children with a stronger sense of who they are and a high sense of self-esteem.  These children are more aware of their wants, needs, rights and they are better skilled in knowing how to get it.  Their morals and values are further developed which allows them to judge more objectively.  They feel better about themselves and have confidence.  This self-confidence contributes to their self-esteem and enables them to manage whatever problems, challenges and situations may come their way.  


Pasquale Fulginiti is an Early Childhood and Parent Educator and author of a new book called Kidstuff.  To have the Kidstuff Parenting Seminar at your school, community centre, church or daycare, visit: or