Parenting Styles

What’s your parenting style? There’s no doubt that parenting styles have an impact on a child’s behavior. And while parents are all different, researchers have narrowed parenting styles down to four different general types: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. These styles can be largely defined by how demanding the parent is, and how responsive.

  • Authoritarian parents believe in strictly controlling their kids. Their children must follow rules without exception, and disobedience is punished. This style of parenting involves high demand from the parents, and low responsiveness to the children’s needs. Authoritarian parents have a “because I said so” approach, perceive negotiation by the child as backtalk, and justify harsh punishments like corporal punishment as “tough love.” Because authoritarian parents don’t involve their kids in problem solving or value their opinions, their children tend to be insecure and have trouble negotiating challenges. They often learn to lie effectively so that they avoid being punished.
  • Authoritative parents have a high level of demandingness, but also a high level of responsiveness. Like authoritarian parents, they set clear rules and guidelines. Authoritative parents, however, are far more democratic. They believe in reasoning with kids, having open dialogue and providing guidance. While they have high expectations, they’re also warm and supportive, using disciplinary methods intended to help their children become not only cooperative, but also self-regulated. They offer their children autonomy and independence, and they allow bidirectional communication. This is considered the most effective form of parenting by most experts, because the children of authoritative parents develop independence, good self-esteem, self-control, and self-regulation, and tend to flourish under their parents’ affectionate support.
  • Permissive parents ask very little of their children. They may set rules, but they rarely enforce them, and tend to have a “kids will be kids” attitude. Often, permissive parents only step in when there’s a serious problem, and often take more of a friend role than that of a parent. While they encourage their children to talk to them about their problems, they don’t offer much guidance when it comes to poor choices and bad behavior. Permissive parents tend to be warm and indulgent, but because their children are largely self-regulated, they often grow up to struggle in relationships, have trouble following rules, and suffer from health problems.
  • Uninvolved parents are neither demanding nor responsive. They may not mean to be neglectful: they may be overwhelmed with their own struggles or have very little knowledge about parenting. They don’t set boundaries, offer guidance, or provide support, and as a result their children often grow up to struggle with mental health issues and addiction. They tend to have low self-esteem, be unable to self-regulate, and behave more impulsively.

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