Five Different Parenting Styles (And How To Choose)

Parenting comes easy to some, but others struggle to find a balance between teaching their kids lessons and instilling values, and giving them enough freedom to experience new things and learn for themselves. Every new parent has plenty of choices to make, but one of the biggest involves what style of parenting they will enact in their family. While each parent much choose which style best fits their personality and how they want to raise their kids, this guide will showcase a few of those parenting styles as well as help parents determine which of the five is the best fit.

Father talking to son while holding smartphones

Authoritarian Parenting

As the name implies, this parenting style presents the parent as the ultimate authority figure. Parents will dictate rules that their children must follow and any deviation from those rules will result in punishment. Authoritarian parents are not interested in working with their children to find solutions or work through conflicts—their focus is on obedience and adherence to the rules, no matter the circumstances.

Authoritarian parents are often extremely demanding, but at the same time, they’re unresponsive. If children try to ask why a rule is set or why a certain punishment is enacted, they typically won’t get a thought-out response with this parenting style. Instead, they are often told, “Because I said so”. This creates a very black-and-white worldview that leaves very little room for creativity. These parents tend to lack warmth and understanding, resulting in a child that may have low self esteem and be more timid around authority figures.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parenting is also sometimes referred to as indulgent parenting because of the freedom, or indulgence, parents allow their children to have. Whereas authoritarian parents were demanding and unresponsive, permissive parents are the opposite. They baby their children, avoid making demands and are very lenient whenever anything goes wrong. There is a lack of discipline and structure with almost no rules—or punishments that are not enforced when the rules are broken.

Often, this style takes on more of a friendship role than one of parenting. One good aspect is that the child is encouraged to talk openly with their parent and is therefore provided plenty of emotional and mental support. Permissive parents are nurturing and loving, providing a great environment for the child, but they tend to ignore bad behaviors, which creates children who are spoiled and feel entitled. They are always used to getting whatever they want. They never have to practice patience, self-control or self-discipline so they often have problems with authority figures once they are older. They’re not used to being told what to do.

Father and son sitting on a bridge smiling

Authoritative Parenting

Unlike the aforementioned parenting styles, authoritative parenting features a balance of demanding and nurturing. This more democratic approach allows children to have a voice as well. While parents are strict and still set rules, they also encourage open discussion with their kids and try to show empathy. Authoritative parents are often patient and calm; they take children’s perspectives into account and therefore their rules are fluid, not set in stone. They also teach their kids why rules and regulations should be followed as opposed to making them blindly obey.

Children raised by authoritative parents tend to be happier. They have a high level of both freedom and understanding, but still recognize that rules are in place for a reason. This parenting style tends to include praise or positive reinforcement, a tactic, which facilitates a higher level of self-esteem. Rather than doling our punishments, authoritative parents present repercussions as consequences of the child’s actions.

Positive Parenting

As far as parenting styles go, this is definitely a more modern way of thinking. Positive parenting involves empowering children and providing them support no matter what in order to boost their self-esteem—something psychologists say will help them thrive later in life. One aspect of this style presents parenting as something people do for their children, implying that they must give up their own desires and interests in order to better allow their child to follow his or her own dreams, interests and ambitions. Positive parenting basically revolves around the idea that children should be encouraged, respected and guided through life without any fear or negativity.

Principles of this parenting style state that sometimes children are not breaking rules set by their parents based on defiance, but because they don’t understand why they’re supposed to. Since the brain is still developing, positive parenting encourages parents to teach children by behaving the way they want them to—modeling behavior. While this style is still relatively new within the last few years, it’s shown that is makes children independent, resilient and dedicated.

Mother hugging daughter

Uninvolved Parenting

Of all of the parenting styles presented, this is easily the most harmful for children. Sometimes also called neglectful parenting, this style doesn’t provide much support or affection. Parents provide basic needs like food and clothing, but they don’t add anything extra; they’re uninvolved in the entire parenting process, letting children learn and waiting for them to grow on their own. In addition to not setting many rules, parents often don’t know what their children are up to and don’t receive any sort of guidance. There is little communication within the parent-child relationship.

There are many causes to this type of parenting, but it usually stems from lack of education, a busy schedule or substance abuse. While uninvolved parents may think that their children will learn responsibility on their own, they will often grow up resenting their parents and having a hard time forming lasting relationships with both elders and peers. They also often lose motivation because there is no encouragement or punishment either way, leading to academic and behavioral problems.

How To Choose A Style Of Your Own

While every parent ultimately has the right to choose for him or herself, certain parenting styles are obviously better than others. Authoritarian parents fail to explain why the rules are important, leaving out an important step in parenting. Permissive parents don’t consider the long-term consequences of letting their children act however they want. They show plenty of love, but that doesn’t create a well-rounded child. Uninvolved parents are all-around negative. Instead, consider either authoritative or positive parenting. Authoritative parenting can lead to calm and relaxed children who follow the rules without being asked while positive parenting promotes healthy brain development and positivity. Both of these parenting styles build healthy parent-child relationships in addition to happy adults with the tools they need to succeed.

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