Parenting styles can affect everything from how much your child weighs to how they feel about themselves.
It’s important to ensure our parenting styles support healthy growth and development because the way you interact with your child and how you discipline them will influence them for the rest of their life.
Researchers have identified four types of parenting styles:
- Authoritarian: Controlling and strict, rules are to be obeyed at all costs, no give or take.
- Authoritative: Assertive and in control, there are rules but with communication and understanding.
- Permissive: Lack of control, lenient, more of a friend than parent, if there are rules they are not enforced.
- Uninvolved: No demands or consequences for bad behaviour. The parent is neglectful of the child.
To get a clearer idea of how these parenting styles work, let’s take one scenario and see how each parenting style would manage it:
Your young teenager wants their new boyfriend/girlfriend to stay overnight at your house in their bedroom, but you suspect they will have sex.
- Authoritarian parent: Absolutely not. And you are not to see them ever again.
- Authoritative parent: No, you are too young but we would like to meet them so that we can get to know him/her better so that perhaps it will be possible in the future.
- Permissive: Okay but make sure you use protection!
- Uninvolved: Do what you want.
Approaches of the Four Parenting Styles
1. Authoritarian Parenting
- Children should be seen and not heard.
- Your child’s feelings are not taken into consideration.
- You do not like being challenged.
If any of those ring true, you might be an authoritarian parent. Authoritarian parents believe kids should follow the rules without exception.
Authoritarian parents are famous for saying, “Because I said so,” when a child questions the reasons behind a rule. Their focus is on obedience. They are not interested in negotiating or discussion. They also don’t allow kids to get involved in problem-solving challenges or obstacles. Instead, they make the rules and enforce the consequences with little regard for a child’s opinion.
Authoritarian parents will punish their children rather than talk to them. As a result, they are extremely demanding of their children but not very responsive to their child’s needs.
How a child of the authoritarian parenting style may grow up
- Follow the rules without question
- Low self-esteem
- Anger towards people in authority
- Lack spontaneity
- Lie to avoid punishment
Do you have an authoritarian parenting style?
- You employ zero tolerance
- There are a lot of rules in your family
- You think other children have it easy
- Your house is always quiet
- You have no time for silly behaviour
2. Authoritative Parenting
- You enforce rules and give consequences but take your child’s feelings into consideration.
- There is a balance between following the rules and your child’s happiness and wellbeing.
- You communicate with your child at all times.
You may be an authoritative parent if you can relate to the above statements. Authoritative parents have rules and they use consequences, but they also listen to their children’s opinions. They validate their children but let them know who is in charge.
Authoritative parents are assertive and try not to restrict their children unless it compromises their safety. But even then they will communicate their reasons for doing so. They want to strike a balance so that their kids end up making good decisions for themselves.
How a child of the authoritative parenting style may grow up
- Well-adjusted and confident
- Cooperative and warm
- Able to navigate through life weighing up the consequences of their own actions
- Make their own decisions
Do you have an authoritative parenting style?
- Clear boundaries are enforced but with explanations and reasons
- Lines of communication are open
- You don’t react in anger when your child has made a mistake
- There are consequences to bad choices but rewards for good behaviour
- You are emotionally responsive and there for your children
3. Permissive Parenting
- Rules are set but rarely enforced
- Children do not learn about the consequences of their actions
- You don’t interfere with your child’s behaviour
Permissive parents are lenient. They will only get involved if a problem arises.
They’re quite forgiving with a ‘kids will be kids’ kind of attitude. They avoid confrontation and take on a friendlier role than a parenting one. Mums are best mates with their daughters and might go out clubbing together, for example. If they do enact consequences for bad behaviour, they are soon withdrawn or ‘let off’.
Sometimes permissive parents can overindulge their children and think that parenting is about giving them what they lacked as children. Furthermore, if the parents grew up in poverty, they might want to spoil their kids and give them everything they ask for.
How a child of the permissive parenting style may grow up
- No understanding of rules and boundaries
- Come into conflict with authority figures
- Low self-control themselves because they did not have good role models
- Over-indulgence such as obesity, addiction and other health problems
Do you have a permissive parenting style?
- You do not set good standards i.e. regular teeth brushing
- Children are indulged or bribed
- You don’t enforce consequences for their actions
- There’s no structure or boundaries
- You ask your children’s opinion
4. Uninvolved Parenting
- You don’t ask your child about school or homework.
- You rarely know where your child is or who s/he is with.
- The needs of your child are ignored
Uninvolved parents tend to have little knowledge of what their children are doing. They do not set any rules or guidance and have little to do with their children’s upbringing.
They provide the basic minimum which includes shelter, food and clothing but apart from that, there is little nurturing or love. Furthermore, uninvolved parents do not provide psychological or emotional needs.
How a child of the uninvolved parenting style may grow up
- They will learn to become independent and not rely on adults
- They will distrust adults
- Low self-esteem and little confidence is common
- Anxiety and stress is typical
- They can exhibit delinquent behaviour
Do you have an uninvolved parenting style?
- There is little contact with your children
- You feel emotionally distant from your children
- Your own problems are too overwhelming
- There are few expectations or hopes for your children
The Best Parenting Style
The studies are clear, however, that authoritative parenting is the best parenting style. But even if you tend to identify with other parenting styles more, there are steps you can take to become a more authoritative parent.