What's Your Conflict Style?

What You Need To Know About Commando Parenting

parenting Feb 18, 2023
commando parenting as a parenting style

What Is Commando Parenting?

If you haven't heard of Commando Parenting, don't worry in the video above, and in this blog, I explain it all to you and if you have, well, I've got a bit of a confession to make…. I sometimes help parents become Commando Parents (!) But you need to know how and why!

If you haven't met yet, my name is Oliver, and this is My People Patterns, and I'm a family systems therapist, and a parent coach and I love helping families become closer and more connected. I'm a little too interested in some of the parenting names that come up every other week so -and the latest one across my radar was Commando Parenting.



As the name implies, Commando parenting is a style of parenting that emphasizes discipline and structure and is characterized by this no-nonsense approach to Parenting where parents are in charge and expect their kids to follow the rules. Commando Parenting might not be so much about being overly strict or controlling it's more about having rules and being very consistent with them. For some reason, Commando Parenting is making a resurgence at the moment having been made famous by Dr Phil in 2005. Having looked at some of the recent articles as well as what Dr. Phil said back in the 2000s, I think it's really important to distinguish between Parenting Styles and Parenting Techniques.

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Everything that I've read about Commando Parenting leads me to believe that it's intended to be a technique rather than an overall parenting style which is more of your general day-to-day approach to being a parent. I find that to be a bit of a relief actually because army references and parenting children really shouldn't belong in the same sentence as far as I am concerned!

How Do I Know If I'm A Commando Parent?

If you're interested in knowing your own parenting style don't forget to take the free parenting quiz on mypeoplettings.com. If you sign up for the emails after you take the parenting quiz I'll tell you a bit more about the free online parenting course that we have it's all about family systems and you can learn a little bit more about how I work and how it impacts parenting and families

Is Commando Parenting A Parenting Style?

There's very little documentation on Commando Parenting so if it were a parenting style and I'm wrong on it being a technique here is how I would conceptualize it. At My People Patterns, we map out where the parenting style is on the four dials of parenting - these dials come from the research of Diana Baumrind and Earl Schaefer who were the pioneers of parenting psychology. Their work gave us the four quadrants that we've probably all heard of, and it's something that therapists learn about in grad School. The only problem with this is that you only get to go in one of four boxes which don't really help us account for all of these new parenting terms that come up. I found it easier to break down the original research into individual components that the two axes were made of. When you do this every single parenting style can be visualized as a different setting on each of the four dials so there can be an infinite number of combinations now which will accommodate future parenting terms as well as your own.

Here's what each of the parenting dials means:

WARMTH -  is a scale that affects the expression of warm yummy loving feelings that we would prefer our parents to express to us

ACCEPTANCE - refers to our desire and need to be accepted rather than rejected by our parents it's acceptance of who we are and what we're interested in as well as acceptance of our feelings in the moment in any given situation.

CONTROL OF BEHAVIORS - is about the idea that our parents need to help us control our behaviors so that we understand what is acceptable in society and in families as well as which behaviors are dangerous or unhealthy.

CONTROL OF AUTONOMY refers to the capacity a parent has to let their child be a unique individual rather than forcing them to fit in a specific box or a specific vision of who they want their child to be. We want our parents to give us the freedom to explore who we are and what we love.

If you haven't guessed it already Commando Parenting is probably not particularly high in warmth or acceptance the military connotations just imply that this is going to be a very rigorous discipline style of parenting and just like being in the Army we can also imagine that this parenting style is going to be very high on controlling behaviors and controlling autonomy. Everyone in the Army wears the same uniform… we don't want individuals in an army 

Is Commando Parenting A Healthy Parenting Style?

Decades of research into parenting and family relationships we know that there is actually one preferred style of parenting the most

effective or the best style of parenting is one in which the dials are flexible they're not locked in any one position they might lean towards the higher end of acceptance and warmth and a little bit lower on control of behaviors and autonomy but they can move depending on the situation and the needs of the child so that means a parent can dial back on the warm loving feelings when their

child needs some space we call this the lighthouse parent in my people patterns world and as you can see the settings on the four dials are very different for a lighthouse parent compared to a Commando Parent.


The Metaphor Of The Commando Parent.


All of these parenting Styles and terminology are metaphors so let's take a look at what comes to mind when we think of a Commando Parent. Just like a marine sergeant the Commando Parent is goal-oriented high in discipline and has a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to dealing with their kids the phrase “do whatever it takes” comes up repeatedly when you search for Commando Parenting.  This implies that the Commando parent is in control has all of the Power and demands respect or is trying to get respect by using their authority and their influence. They get the job done.

The military terminology brings to mind hierarchy ranks and chain of command and this is an important part of Commando Parenting that I'm going to follow up on in a later post.

 Commando Parenting and Private Benjamin

 The movie Private Benjamin came to mind if you haven't seen it is an 80s classic and Goldie Hawn is this very privileged uh beautiful young woman who suddenly has to join the Army and hilarity ensues as she adapts to military life .It's a total culture shock to her, but in the end, it's actually a very transformative experience for her she sort of shocked into reality by this drastic change in environment and it's probably the intended effect of any parent who suddenly wants to shift into being a Commando parent they want to shake things up and change things but that's a movie and Goldie Hawn was anadult in it not a child. We know from research that ranges from Harry Harlow's experiments on monkeys with the wireframe mother to what we understand about rescued orphans from orphanages in Romania in the 80s or 90s that a military style approach to parenting is not going to raise healthy happy young adults.

Stay tuned for more on Commando Parenting and when I would use it as a techinque.

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