The 4 Main Parenting Styles and How They Differ

It’s no secret that parenting style can majorly impact a child’s development. Researchers have identified four main parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved.

The first three were formulated by development psychologist Diana Baumrind in the 1960s, and later researchers added the last one. 

This article’ll explain the four parenting styles and their effect on children. Let’s get started!

1. Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parents stress obedience above all else. They believe they have complete authority over their children. It’s “their way or the highway.” As a result, they don’t hesitate to punish their children for disobedience. 

Authoritarian parents tend to have high expectations but don’t take their children’s feelings into account and show little affection.

Unfortunately, this parenting style can lead children to become resentful, angry, and dishonest (to avoid punishment). It can also lead to unhealthy outcomes such as low self-esteem and defiant attitudes against authority. 

2. Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parents set rules and follow through with enforcing them. However, they also take time to explain the rules. They validate their children’s feelings while making it clear that they are still in charge. In short, they are strict but show a lot of affection at the same time.

The general consensus is that authoritative parenting has the most positive impact on children’s development. Children of authoritative parents tend to be happier, more successful, and better at making responsible decisions. They usually also have higher self-esteem.

3. Permissive Parenting

Permissive parents may have rules, but they rarely enforce them. They tend to be very lenient with their children and only step in when there’s a serious problem. More than anything, permissive parents want to be a friend to their kids. They want their kids to talk to them about their problems but rarely push them toward a particular solution. They usually cater to the children’s wants—whatever they are.

Consequently, children of permissive parents tend to get what they want. They often don’t learn to take on responsibility and may not respect other authority figures or rules. This lack of discipline may also lead some to adopt unhealthy practices like poor diets.

4. Uninvolved Parenting

Finally, uninvolved parents (aka neglectful parents) don’t spend much time with their children. They provide little rules, guidance, or nurturing. Children are basically left to fend for themselves. This could be due to the parent’s own mental or physical disabilities or lack of time, energy, or parenting knowledge.

Unfortunately, children of uninvolved parents may have their basic physical but their emotional needs go unmet. As a result, they are more likely to perform poorly in school, have behavioral problems, and struggle with substance abuse

Final thoughts

Every child is different, and some are harder to parent than others. You may also not have had good parenting models growing up. So if you don’t think you fit within the authoritative parenting style yet, that’s okay. You can get there. 

Of course, parenting is often a two-person job, and your spouse or co-parent may not be on board with how you want to parent. If there are any serious issues, such as family violence or the potential for divorce, consult a family law attorney. They can help you navigate the complex legal dynamics of parenting. 

Ultimately, however, you should do whatever’s in the best interest of your child. If that means following through with rules or showing more affection, so be it. Do whatever it takes to be the best parent you can be.




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I'm Crystal. I'm married to Dale, and mother to Johnny.Some might say that my life is perfect because I get to do all the cliché wife things like cooking, cleaning, and decorating - but there's more! I also have many hobbies including needlework (crochet), sewing, and reading. My son's education is important, so we homeschool him together.

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