Types of Parenting Styles and How it Impacts Kids

Image of mother and child interacting

It’s not often that we think about our parenting style and how it can impact children. Parenting styles can be an important determinant for children as they develop social skills as well as how they cultivate traits such as self-confidence, self-reliance, problem-solving, and much more. Understanding your parenting approach and its effects on children can be incredibly beneficial to develop better parent-child relationships.

Developmental psychology has typically shown that there are four types of parenting styles:

  • Authoritative parenting
  • Authoritarian parenting
  • Permissive parenting
  • Neglectful parenting style

These evidence-based parenting styles originate from developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1960s. In the 1980s, the parenting model was refined by Maccoby and Martin.

Let’s look at each in more detail to better understand the parenting styles and what it means for child behavior.

Authoritative parents

Authoritative parenting practices are rooted in defining rules and consequences for their children. Traditional parents consider their children's feelings while establishing themselves as authority figures and exhibiting some level of parental control in the relationship. Authoritative parenting styles are about validating their children’s feelings, giving them a voice, and enabling them to speak while still maintaining the ultimate authority of the parent.

Authoritative parents spend more time towards preventing behavior problems and also developing positive disciplinary actions to reinforce good behavior. In the authoritative parenting style, there is high responsiveness overall when it comes to children, but there is a clear definition of their parenting role in their relationship with children.

Children of authoritative parents tend to be happy and successful overall. These children also are more likely to display positive behavior across their development as they grow into adolescence and into adulthood. Typically, children of authoritative parents display traits such as being self-reliant, highly resilient, and exhibiting positive behavior overall.

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Authoritarian parenting

Authoritarian parents are of the belief that children should be quiet and obedient, and it’s their way or no way, then you might have an authoritarian parenting style. These parents see themselves as more of a disciplinarian when it comes to their relationship with their children. Unfortunately, authoritarian parents also tend to have strict rules in place for children, with little to no flexibility. Overall, the authoritarian style of parenting is a strong parenting style with little room for democracy.

Authoritarian parents tend to have some key traits. These are parents that typically have higher levels of demandingness from their child. Authoritarian parents tend to have very high expectations of children, especially when it comes to academic achievement or athletic achievements, but little responsiveness to what children need. These are parents that may not listen to their children or take their feelings and thoughts into account, whether as a younger child or as they grow older.

Children of authoritarian parents can often have more challenging outcomes, especially growing up. These children may face lower levels of happiness and low self-esteem. These children may also experience anger issues, behavior problems, and less self-reliance and resilience as they grow older.

Permissive parents

Permissive parents go the complete opposite direction of authoritarian parenting, as these parents tend to see their relationship with their children as a friendship rather than an authority. Permissive parents have high levels of responsiveness, tend to be more lenient, and practice less parental control overall, as permissive parents are more indulgent parents usually.

The permissive parenting style is a more nurturing style, though, which can be necessary for children’s needs, especially in early childhood and as they grow older.

Children of permissive parenting can experience different kinds of outcomes depending on the level of choice they are given at an early age. While these children typically tend to be nurtured and have more positive mental health, there is still some level of parental control needed. Children of permissive parents may end up making too many choices too soon and are not really taught self-regulation and self-control compared to other parenting styles.

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Neglectful parenting or uninvolved parenting

The fourth style of parenting is the uninvolved parent or the neglectful parent. While the first three styles are based on some kind of attachment parenting, the neglectful parent does not fit within that category. Uninvolved parents expect that children will raise themselves to an extent and do not really take much interest in their child’s life. They will not know much about school or homework and are overall very hands-off when it comes to their child’s life.

Typically, these parents may have other responsibilities that make it challenging to be involved in parenting, such as working intensive jobs, or they may be caregivers to other family members. In other cases, neglectful parents may be experiencing issues such as substance abuse problems or mental health issues. In other instances, neglectful parents may lack an understanding of child development. They may just be parents who believe in having little involvement in their child’s life to make them feel more resilient and independent as they grow older.

Children of neglectful parents are more likely to face difficulties in mental health, and the parenting style tends to correlate with adolescents that display higher levels of depression and anxiety. These children may not feel essential or noticed by their parents, and they may internalize these feelings, such as experiencing lower levels of self-esteem. Children of neglectful parents may also be more likely to experience behavior problems, and exhibit delinquent behavior.

Other types of parenting styles

Over the years, newer types of parenting styles have come to the fore such as helicopter parenting and newer forms of attachment parenting. Helicopter parents tend to be overinvolved in their child’s life. While it stems from a place of good intentions, helicopter parents may end up micromanaging each aspect of their child’s life, with parents taking every step possible to protect theri child and keep them happy.

Attachment parenting is another recent term, and it refers to being physically and emotionally in tune with a child from the moment of birth. Attachment parenting is rooted in creating a strong and secure bond with the. It has facets of permissive parenting, such as giving children more choice in how they shape their physical and emotional attachment to parents. However, this style of parenting may end up putting more pressure on mothers and may impact the child’s social-emotional development.

There is more of an interest and understanding of the different parenting styles than ever before; and more research is emerging now on the different effects parenting styles can have on children.

Developing a positive parenting style that enables children to be happy, well-adjusted and benefits their well-being is a journey, and typically tends to take a lot of trial and error. However, the research does demonstrate that certain parenting styling tends to have better outcomes for children than others.

Parenting your way will look different from family to family, but better outcomes tend to occur when children feel like they have a voice, that they are heard and validated - with some discipline in the mix. Establishing your role as a parent is essential, but equally, it’s important to give children the space and resources needed to learn, explore, ask questions, and make mistakes.

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