Sometimes we plead our kids, sometimes we command them. Sometimes we say yes to their fancies, and the other times we say no. But what exactly is our style of parenting? Most parents follow a mix of styles depending on the situation and the age of our children. But, interestingly, we do not realize that we may be leaning towards one of the four broad parenting styles demarcated by psychologists.
Parenting style is a set of strategies and disciplining tactics parents use to raise their children. It is defined by two attributes – responsiveness and demandingness.
Responsiveness (warmth): It is the extent to which the parents respond to the child’s needs by being supportive and understanding. It can range from no response at all to an extreme indulgence of the child’s whims and fancies. In short, it means how much you are willing to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to your child’s demands.
Demandingness (control): It is the extent to which parents control the child’s behavior or demand results from them. This behavior, too, can range anything between the two extremes. Parents may have very high expectations for their child and want them to be met at any cost; alternatively, they do not demand anything, even the basic behavioral requirements, from the kid.
Psychologists have considered these two parameters to come up with various parenting styles, all of which depend on the correlation between responsiveness and demandingness. Let’s see them in detail.
In the early 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind has closely studied more than 100 preschool children and concluded that four basic dynamics influence parenting style (1). They are responsiveness, unresponsiveness, demanding, and undemanding.
Baumrind came up with three parenting styles: Authoritative, Permissive, and Authoritarian. She observed that most parents use one of these parenting styles. In the 1980s, Maccoby and Martin further researched and came up with the fourth parenting style, that is, Neglectful (2).
[ Read: Authoritarian Parenting Style ]
Each parenting style has different traits. Here we help you identify your parenting style and understand the impact it has on your children.
Authoritative parents are highly demanding yet responsive and supportive of their children. They enforce rules and consequences but also consider the child’s needs and provide warmth and support. When children don’t meet their expectations, authoritative parents are forgiving rather than punishing. This creates a healthy environment for the children to grow and also nurtures the parent-child relationship. Know more about authoritative parenting here.
[ Read: Authoritative Parenting Style ]
Authoritarian parents are highly demanding, strict, and focus on obedience. They are high on demandingness and low on responsiveness. They expect the child to obey them just because ‘they said so’. There is no room for open communication and children are expected to follow the parent’s orders.
Authoritarian parents use punishment instead of discussion. Therefore, this style is also known as ‘strict or military parenting’.
Research studies (3) show that children raised in authoritarian parenting style perform well in academics, but are at the risk of having poor social skills and low self-esteem as they grow up. Know more about authoritarian parenting here.
Children grow into successful students and have good behavioral qualities but at the cost of their independence and creativity. It, therefore, makes them either overly submissive or rebellious. The children:
This parenting style is also known as ‘indulgent parenting’ and is a total contrast to the authoritarian style. This approach is harmful to the child because the parents give in to the child’s demands and are tolerant of their misbehavior.
They are liberal with the child and do not want to upset them. They are high on responsiveness and low on demandingness. They take on the role of a friend instead of a parent, and hardly have any rules or structure. The child grows up with limited self-control and discipline.
The good thing about this parenting is that the parents are loving and nurturing.
In permissive families, the child will not learn to follow the rules. Know more about permissive parenting here.
Your child may love the permissive style of parenting as it gives them the independence to do whatever they want to. However, this can be damaging to them in the long run. According to a study (4), adolescents brought up under this style are at the risk of depression, lack of independence, and substance abuse. They are also:
Also, the children lack discipline, become selfish and oppose authority.
[ Read: Democratic Parenting Style ]
Also known as ‘uninvolved parenting’, this style is damaging to the child. The parents do not have any expectations from their child and are indifferent to them. They are neither responsive nor demanding. These parents provide the basic needs such as food, shelter, and clothes but remain uninvolved and detached from their child’s life.
Neglectful parents themselves might be suffering from a mental issue such as depression or they must have suffered abuse or neglect in their childhood. Research (5) shows -that there is an overall negative impact on children, especially on their academics. Neglectful parents need to seek help to come on track and have healthy relationship with their family. Know more about neglectful parenting here.
For the child, having neglectful parents is almost the same as not having parents as there is no warmth in the relationship.
Children find it hard to form relationships with peers. They tend to be stronger emotionally and can fill in the parenting role for their younger siblings. Also, they:
Children raised by neglectful parents have an unpleasant relationship with their parents and find it difficult to form relationships later in life.
If you are a neglectful parent, begin making changes in your style. Seek help from your family or see a counselor. Talk to your children and tell them you want to change the atmosphere at home and seek their support.
Parenting styles have evolved over the years, with new ones such as ‘Helicopter parenting’ and ‘Free-range parenting’ added to the list.
Helicopter parenting is similar to authoritative style except that there is over-involvement of the parent in the child’s life; free-range parenting is similar to neglectful parenting but with an intention of allowing independence to the child to encourage healthy development.
Note that you may not necessarily fall into any of the four categories because the styles are not water-tight. And they are not free of limitations.
The demarcation of parenting styles based on two parameters – responsiveness and demandingness – has some significant limitations:
In spite of the limitations, the four parenting styles are still considered the most practical demarcation of parenting (7).
Douglas Bernstein, the author of Essentials of Psychology, says, “There is no universally best style of parenting.”
Experts opine that it is good for the child to have parents following different styles rather than both being permissive, neglectful or authoritarian. Every child is different, and each kid requires a different parenting practice.
However, decades of studies in different countries have shown that authoritative parenting is associated with positive outcomes. The authoritative parenting style is generally associated with healthy behaviors such as self-esteem and self-competence. But it cannot be said for certain that these behaviors result purely from this style.
Other factors such as culture, ethnic background, and social dynamics also play a role in shaping the child’s behavior. Let’s understand the other influencing factors in a child’s behavior.
The various other factors that influence the child’s personality are:
[ Read: Co-Parenting: All You Need To Know ]
In real life, parenting styles overlap or change depending on the given scenario. Besides, it also depends on the child; a disobedient child may need strict parenting style such as authoritarian and an obedient child may need authoritative or permissive parenting. Therefore, it is difficult to put oneself into a particular bucket of parenting, unless you are too neglectful or demanding. Whatever might be the style, the ultimate goal of a parent is to ensure the mental and physical well-being of the child, and lay the road for their bright future.
What’s your parenting style? Tell us by commenting below.