4 Parenting Styles You Should Be Aware Of

Parenting Styles

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The way you discipline your children will have a significant impact on their development. The different approaches will influence a child’s temperament and mood, and your relationship with him.

Decades of research have discovered four types of parenting styles. These styles focus on two aspects of parenting – one is about a parent’s support, empathy, and warm relationship with the child and the other is about obedience, discipline and parental authority (firmness).

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How Did Parenting Styles Evolve?

Since generations, researchers have been studying the different approaches to parenting and their effects on children. In the early 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind has closely studied more than 100 preschool children. She then concluded the important dimensions of parenting based on parental interviews, observation, and a few other criteria.

The four important dimensions are: warmth and nurturance, disciplinary strategies, the style of communication, expectations of maturity and control.

Diana Baumrind (1966) identified three parenting styles – authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. Later, Maccoby and Martin (1983) extended Baumrind’s work and came up with the fourth style of parenting, the neglectful style (1).

The Four Styles Of Parenting:

Each parenting style has different characteristics. Here is a simple guide that helps you know your parenting style and offers suggestions on how to raise them into happy and responsible adults.

1. Authoritative Style:

It is the healthiest and most balanced approach to parenting. Authoritative parents are high in firmness and control, and also in warmth and support. They set limits but also consider the child’s point of view. For instance, Steve comes home late in the night as he is stuck in traffic jam. Authoritative parents do not punish him but wait to listen to his explanation and validate his reason.

Several psychology studies say that children brought up in this parenting style do well in academics, and they are less likely to turn as delinquents and have high self-esteem after growing up.

You Are An Authoritative Parent If:

  • Your children understand all the household rules and follow a scheduled mealtime, bedtime, and playtime.
  • They know the consequences for breaking the household rules.
  • Your children are able to communicate openly with you and speak to you about anything without fear.
  • They understand your expectations from them?

Impact On Children:

Children raised by authoritative parents grow into emotionally healthy adults. They are empathic, warm, independent, and confident. They are not afraid to pursue their goals.

2. Authoritarian Style:

It is also known as military parenting style, where a parent employs very strict family rules, emphasizing on obedience. They are high in firmness and control and low in warmth and support. Let us take the example of Steve again – if he comes late to home, breaking a household rule, his parents will severely punish him without listening to his explanation. (2).

Research studies show that children raised in authoritarian parenting style perform well in academics, but are at a risk of having poor social skills and low self-esteem as they grow up.

You Are An Authoritarian Parent If:

  • You impose strict rules which your children need to follow at any cost.
  • You give your children only a few choices and decisions to make about their life.
  • You do not offer any explanation for the rules you impose.
  • You resort to punishment if they do not listen to you.
  • You are reserved in showing warmth to your children.

Impact On Children:

Children grow into successful students and have good behavioral qualities. But, this is at the expense of their sense of independence and creativity. It, therefore, makes them either overly submissive or rebellious.

3. Permissive Style:

It is an indulgent style where parents try to protect their children from harmful incidents. They will not set any standards for behavior and are very tolerant. Permissive parents are low in firmness and control, and high in warmth and support. If we took the example of Steve coming home late, the parents would not seek an explanation from him. They are lenient and try avoiding a confrontation.

Studies have found that children whose parents are permissive have excellent social skills and self-esteem. They are more involved in problem behavior and less motivated in academics.

You Are A Permissive Parent If:

  • You avoid any dispute with your children.
  • You do not set any limits for your children and compromise to make your child happy.
  • You like to be your child’s best friend rather than a parent.
  • You bribe your children to help them achieve success.

Impact On Children:

Permissive parenting will have a long-lasting damaging effect on children. In a study published in the Journal Of Early Adolescence, it was stated that adolescents brought up under this style are at a risk of depression, lack of independence, and alcohol abuse. It could also develop insecurity, self-centeredness and poor academic performace.

4. Neglectful Style:

Also known as uninvolved parenting, parents do not provide guidance and support to their children. They do not show any love or control and do not pay attention to children. They are low in both firmness and warmth. With the same example of Steve coming home late, the parents here may not notice that he came late or may not be there at home when he arrives. They will not care as they may be busy elsewhere. (3).

Research shows that there would be an overall negative impact on children and parents as well. Neglectful parents need to seek help to come on track to have a healthy and good relation within their family.

You Are A Neglectful Parent If:

  • You do not care for the physical, emotional, or other needs of your children.
  • You are not approachable for your children to share their experiences and seek guidance.
  • You do not know what is happening in your child’s life.
  • You often give excuses for not being with your child.
  • You spend most of the time away from home.
  • You do not involve in your child’s life outside home.
  • You do not know their teachers and friends.

Impact On Children:

Children will find it hard to form relationships with peers. They lack a sense of discipline and external structure. They tend to be stronger emotionally and can fill in the parenting role for their younger siblings.

Do Parenting Styles Differ For Boys And Girls?

A study in Australia (4) has found that the authoritarian style is common when parenting boys and the authoritative style with girls.

It has also concluded that mothers are more likely to follow authoritative pattern than fathers. The study says: “Mothers were higher than fathers on the styles comprising the authoritative pattern, and there was evidence of fathers being more likely than mothers to use the styles in the authoritarian and permissive patterns.”

Why Do Parenting Styles Differ?

Some potential causes of varying parenting styles include personality, culture, parental background, family size, religion, education and socioeconomic status.

  • Cultural heritage could have a great influence on the parenting style. For example (5), Caucasian American parents emphasize on independence while Asian Americans like interdependence.
  • Your past experiences might make you change your parenting style or club two patterns.
  • Your religion could also influence your parenting style.

Limitations And Criticism Of Parenting Styles?

There are some significant limitations of parenting styles that one should note.

  • The link between parenting style and behavior is based on correlation research, which helps to find relationships between variables but it cannot establish a definitive cause and effect.
  • Researchers also say that the correlations between parenting models and behaviors of children are sometimes weak. In most cases, parents who adopt authoritative parenting will produce children who are aggressive or disobedient, while parents with permissive styles produce children who are academically successful and self-confident.

Individuals try to follow their parents as they grow. While it is true that parenting styles differ at various levels, understanding your child and choosing a style which is harmonious to both, is the best way forward.

We hope we were able to help you with the styles. Tell us about your partenting style!

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Rebecca Malachi

"I believe words have power. They are a powerful tool for a creative soul. Being a 'word addict', I express my thoughts and contribute articles on health, wellness and beauty. Apart from writing, I love listening to gospel music and enjoy observing nature in silence."
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