Becoming a parent is, for the most part, an exciting adventure to undertake. Along with this, however, comes enormous responsibility. And while most parents feel prepared, others may experience anxiety and uncertainty about how to begin this journey. But all parents strive to raise their children to the best of their ability with the information they possess. Knowledge of our parenting style can help us adjust, as needed, and apply the best approach for our children’s healthy development.
Four distinct parenting styles have been identified by Dr. Diana Baumrind, each has specific characteristics and predictable behaviors that the child will display. Parents often settle into one of these four styles based on how they were raised, their belief systems, and their knowledge of child development techniques. However, many parents will shift between the four styles. By understanding this, we can view parenting styles as a spectrum in which parents may apply different styles depending on a child’s temperament and unique situations.
- Authoritarian: These parents often feel that children should be “seen and not heard,” and rules are rigid and to be followed without question. Communication is one way, and the child’s attempts to question or negotiate are seen as “back talk.” These parents are often less nurturing and feel that life lessons are best learned through a “tough love” approach. Punishment for poor decisions is harsh, and guidance for better decision making is often lacking. Because of these things, children are often unhappy and less independent and have low self-esteem, poor coping skills, and behavior problems.
- Authoritative: These parents spend time implementing strategies to prevent problems by creating rules and utilizing positive discipline approaches. Although they set high expectations, they allow input from their children and guide them in problem-solving difficult situations while also applying praise and reward systems to reinforce good behavior. These parents explain things based on the level of their child’s understanding and help them develop a sense of awareness regarding values and morals. Therefore, this style creates more independent and self-disciplined children who are happy and have lower levels of mental illness and delinquency.
- Permissive: These parents have the “kids will be kids” approach and are more of a friend to their child than a parent. They are nurturing and have incredibly open communication. However, they have minimal expectations and have limited or no rules in place. And while they sometimes use consequences, they often don’t enforce them. This approach gives the child the ability to make their own choices, good or bad. Because of this, these children often don’t respect rules or authority figures, will struggle to reach goals, are egocentric, and have poor impulse control.
- Uninvolved: These parents have little knowledge about what their children are doing and appear indifferent. They may seem to neglect their children, although this is not always deliberate and may, instead, be due to a lack of parenting knowledge or because they feel overwhelmed. These parents usually have few expectations or rules, if any, and leave children to raise themselves. Due to the lack of communication and nurturing, children often have behavior problems, don’t do well in school, and have difficulty controlling themselves and their emotions, often leading to delinquency.
Parenting can be rewarding and challenging at the same time. As they say, “it takes a village.” When we understand the different parenting styles and how they affect children long term, we can move along the parenting spectrum to achieve the best results for each child.