Parenting Styles: What They Are and How to Choose One
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Almost every conscious parent I know has wondered if they are parenting the best way possible. And if you’re reading this, you’re one of those mindful parents. Keep reading to learn more about parenting styles and which one is a good fit for you.
I started parenting using attachment parenting. But after my first child turned two years old, I found that I didn’t have many practical parenting tools.
It was then that I began my research on authoritative parenting methods (I cover these in this article). Mutual respect, kindness, guidance, self-discipline were all attributes that I wanted in a parenting style. And this led me to choose a mix of parenting philosophies that was best for my children and me.
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This week, a mother of two children, ages two and seven years old, asked that very question: “What parenting style should I choose?”
If you’ve been in the same situation, trying to find what parenting style is the best match for your family, you know that it can be a lot to process.
In this article, I’ll go through the different parenting styles, look at which one would be the best for which type of child, and which one is best for the parent.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to answer not just this curious mom with her own family. Still, many other parents are looking to raise children with a particular parenting style in mind.
What are the Four Parenting Styles?
When we talk about a parenting style, we’re talking about the different methods and strategies we use to raise our children.
Generally, following the Baumrind theory, which is a theory based on direct link between a child’s behavior and the parenting style, there are four main parenting styles. These are:
- Authoritarian or Disciplinarian
- Permissive or Indulgent
I'm going to break-down each parenting style to include what it means, who it's good for, and what are the pros and cons of each parenting style.
1. Authoritarian or Disciplinarian
What does Authoritarian Parenting mean?
Authoritarian parents believe in strict rules, complete obedience on behalf of the child, and punishments when the rules are not obeyed.
The belief is that the parent knows best and that the child isn’t to question the parent’s decisions. It’s similar to the old Victorian adage of ‘children should be seen and not heard’ and rarely, if ever, are the child’s feelings taken into consideration when setting the rules, particularly when giving the punishment.
The child’s behavioral expectations are incredibly high, with parents demanding the behavior they expect and to be done exactly how they expect the child to do it. When rules or direction are not followed, the child is given punishments that are not necessarily related to the action (for example spanking, grounding, taking things away, etc).
This parenting style is where the parent considers themselves the boss, and the child does as they are told.
Is Authoritarian Parenting for You?
The child of an authoritarian parent is more likely to behave themselves (at least at home). However, since the child’s perspective is not taken into account as it is in other parenting styles, it can result in the child feeling resentful and shamed for various behaviors.
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It’s a style that is more suited to the parent than the child. Authoritarian parents usually need to rely on fear as a form of obedience (for example, if a child behaves, they may get punishments they fear).
It’s a parenting style best suited for the parent that sees their child not as a person who needs respect but as theirs to mold as required, and they will use punishment or rewards to reach this goal.
What does Authoritarian Parenting do to Children?
Studies have shown that authoritarian parents are more likely to raise children who become angry as they rebel against the strict rules. The children often perform worse in school, not better, and are expected to more likely to be involved in bullying, whether as the perpetrator or the victim.
Pros of Authoritarian Parenting:
- The child always knows where they stand.
- Good behavior is highly likely.
- The child can become task-oriented and goal-driven
Cons of Authoritarian Parenting:
- Low self-esteem
- High levels of emotional withdrawal
- Lack of nurturing from the parents
- Rebellion, later on, is highly likely.
2. Permissive (or Indulgent) Parenting Style
What does Permissive Parenting Mean?
Permissive parents, by their very nature, are lenient. They are more likely to want to be peers and friends with their children, as opposed to authority figures.
They’re indulgent with their children in that they not only consider their children’s feelings, but allow their children to decide their actions while offering little direction.
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Permissive parents are thought of as the complete opposite of Authoritarian parents and are usually very nurturing, warm, and caring toward their children.
Is Permissive Parenting for You?
Permissive parenting suits parents who believe in their child’s ability to find their way in life. It’s a style that appeals to people who believe in freedom and creativity.
It’s shown to work well in children who have a strong sense of right-and-wrong despite their parents’ leniency because they can forge a creative, free-spirited way in life while at the same time becoming highly functioning in society.
Being a permissive parent is a gamble. Leaving a child to make most (if not all) of their own decisions can come with risks. Children of permissive parents grow up with very little to no boundaries or rules and more likely to engage in risky behavior, including substance abuse.
What does Permissive Parenting do to the Child?
Children with permissive parents tend to find themselves with little understanding between right and wrong, so they may act out to provoke a reaction, whether positive or negative.
Without rules around screen time, junk food, and academia, research shows that children of permissive parents emerge from childhood with low education levels, high levels of obesity, and poor dental hygiene.
Pros of Permissive Parenting:
- Children tend to be more creative and explorative.
- More likely to feel comfortable with self-expression
- No memories of harsh rules or unpleasant discipline
- The close relationship between parent and child
Cons of Permissive Parenting:
- Little knowledge of right and wrong
- Few consequences for actions mean risky behavior.
- Poor dietary and entertainment choices
- The rules may change from one day to the next.
- Lack of structure or routine
3. Uninvolved Parenting Style
Uninvolved parenting often referred to as Neglectful parenting, is a style that is controversial and has negative connotations.
Uninvolved parents may care for their child’s basic needs, e.g., their food, clothing, shelter, and other practicalities necessary to their survival. Still, they are neglectful in different ways, particularly in discipline, guidance, and nurturing.
Parents who intentionally take little to no interest in their children may not realize they are uninvolved parents. They are often simply getting too caught up in their careers or personal lives to take enough parental responsibility.
Is Uninvolved Parenting Style for You?
Once again, it’s hard to make a case for this parenting style to be best for anyone, least of all a child.
Similar to permissive parenting, a child of uninvolved parents may turn out to be too self-sufficient and capable simply because they’ve had to learn how to be so when young. But again, this is a huge gamble and highly risky and can result in the child being resentful that they didn't receive more guidance and boundaries.
What does Uninvolved Parenting Style do for the Child?
The results aren’t good for the children of Uninvolved parents. They tend to have attachment issues, social skills and lack emotional awareness.
Their lack of boundaries and discipline can lead to misbehavior as a child and anti-social activity as an adult.
When they have children of their own, they’re more likely to parent in a similar style to the way. And the cycle of uninvolved parenting is expected to continue.
Pros of Uninvolved Parenting Style:
- The child is likely to be kept out of their parents’ issues.
- The child can become adept at looking after themselves.
Honestly, it’s the pros concerning Uninvolved parenting is very difficult as there aren’t many!
Cons of Uninvolved Parenting Style:
- A child grows up with little warmth or love.
- Lack of interest in a child’s educational or emotional needs
- A child is more likely to engage in delinquent behavior.
- Low attachment and social skills
4. Authoritative Parenting Style
Authoritative parenting is not to be confused with Authoritarian. The two are very different.
Authoritative parenting is genuinely considered the best, most effective way of raising happy, healthy, and all-around stable children.
Authoritative parenting involves striking the perfect balance between enforcing boundaries but listening to their child and empowering them rather than merely instructing them. The emphasis is on problem-solving, as opposed to rules and consequences.
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The Parenting Alchemy, which takes a holistic approach to positive parenting and provides parents with parenting solutions, is based on authoritative parenting.
While the emphasis isn’t on being friends with their children, authoritative parents also don’t believe in intimidation or shaming. Failing is OK, but what’s more important is learning from the experience and getting back up.
Is Authoritative Parenting for You?
Authoritative parenting works best for both the parent and the child, when done correctly and not mixed with authoritarian parenting. It's a parenting style best suited for parents that want to raise children that are self-disciplined, confident, problem-solvers.
In authoritative parenting, the parent learns what the child will respond to best, and the child learns that the parent is someone to respect but also to confide in when necessary.
What does Authoritative Parenting do for the Child?
In authoritative parenting the child grows up with a sense of freedom in some areas but learns the consequences of their actions when they make the wrong decisions. The child learns from their mistakes which builds up resiliency, leading to greater self-confidence.
The child also learns that their parents are interested in what they have to say, so the lines of communication are always open and dependable, leading to greater emotional security and wellbeing.
Pros of Authoritative Parenting:
- Instilling of resiliency and self-confidence
- Accountability for actions
- Child learns how to give and take
- Nurturing and communication are paramount
- Failing isn’t the end of the world
- The parenting style recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Healthy Children Organization.
Cons of Authoritative Parenting:
- It can be hard to get the balance right
- It’s not always easy (but it is possible!) to parent this way with a spirited child (if this is you, I welcome you to join The Parenting Alchemy)
Positive Parenting and Authoritative Parenting
Positive parenting is the same as authoritative parenting. And it's the parenting style that I chose for my children. I use a blend of Positive Parenting, Non-Violent Communication, and Playful Parenting (all are forms of authoritative parenting style) to raise my children.
And I can tell you that Positive Parenting works.
My children are responsible, self-discipline, kind, emphatic, problem-solvers who value right and wrong, care for others and the world and maintain a great relationship with me. This is a direct result of positive parenting.
I created The Parenting Alchemy as a way to give parents an accessible, welcoming community for Positive Parenting, holistic wellness, and self-care as parents, while receiving parenting solutions. (Enrollment opens a few times a year!)
Let's summarize the parenting styles.
As you can see, taking the time to think carefully about the kind of parenting style you’ll want to adopt takes humility and self-reflection.
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Authoritative parenting gets the best results overall, but you know your child better than anyone, and should apply the most effective style that will get optimum results for creating a strong connection between you and your child.
The very fact you’re concerned about making the correct parenting style decision shows that you’re already on the right track!