Before we look at each "parenting posture", take the following quiz to get an idea of your predominant parenting style. Knowing your style and its strengths and weaknesses can help you evaluate what type of relationship you're creating with your teenager, what are its strengths and weaknesses, and what changes you could make to form a stronger hand-in-hand alliance.


1. When my daughter gets in trouble, I:

a. lecture/punish
b. feel anxious
c. walk away
d. try to fix it

2. When my son is sad, I:

a. lecture/punish
b. feel afraid
c. walk away
d. become tearful

3. When my teenager's friends make me uneasy, I:

a. condemn/criticize them
b. feel afraid
c. don't comment
d. encourage him/her to find different friends

4. When my child is happy, I:

a. feel successful
b. feel happy
c. feel distant
d. feel responsible

5. If my son smokes, I:

a. will forbid him from ever doing it again
b. wonder what I did wrong
c. let him make his own choices
d. remind him of what all of our friends and family will think of him

6. When my daughter feels lonely and as if she doesn't belong, I:

a. tell her to have friends she has to be a friend
b. worry about what's wrong with her
c. tell her that having friends is not the most important thing in the world
d. feel responsible

7. When my teenager withdraws from me, I:

a. suspect he/she is doing something they shouldn't be, punish them, and make them spend time with me.
b. feel as if I've done something wrong
c. let him/her be by themselves
d. try to do all their favorite things so they'll want to be with me

8. If my daughter comes home with alcohol on her breath, I:

a. ground her immediately and lecture her on the dangers of drinking
b. don't say anything because I don't want her to get mad at me
c. tell her how stupid drinking is
d. stay with her and come up with a plan to keep her from drinking again

9. When my son won't talk about his feelings, I:

a. scold him
b. am intimidated by his silence
c. leave him alone
d. try to articulate his feelings for him

10. When my child's grades start slipping, I:

a. lecture/punish/structure new rules
b. feel like a bad parent
c. let them work it out
d. start doing the work for them

11. If my teenager tries drugs, I:

a. take away all privileges/punish
b. am completely panicked and don't know what to do
c. send them away to a home for troubled teenagers
d. keep them with me at all times

If most of your answers were "a", your parenting style is from above. If most of your answers were "b", your parenting style is from beneath. If you mostly answered "c", your parenting style is from a distance. If most of your answers were "d", you tend to be a hovering parent.

As we look at the four parenting styles in this series, we will uncover what keeps you from being the most powerful ally possible to your teenagers and look together at some ways to begin to form an alliance. As you prepare to become your son or daughter's ally, know that like the stuttering, stammering Moses, you are on holy ground.

You can read more about hand-in-hand mothering in Sharon's new book: Mom, I hate my life! published by Shaw Books

Sharon A. Hersh is a licensed professional counselor, author, and speaker. She is the author of 3 parenting books: Mom, I hate my life!; Mom, I feel fat! and Mothering Without Guilt (a Mom's Ordinary Day Bible Study by Zondervan). She is also the author of Bravehearts: Unlocking the Courage to Love With Abandon. Sharon is a frequent speaker for retreats and conferences. She lives with her two teenagers in Lone Tree, Colorado.