When you think of how your parent raised you, much of what you remember might be related to their parenting style. Once you become a parent yourself, you develop your style, and this will be a part of what your children will remember, too. Understanding parenting styles and their results can help you become more self-aware and better prepared to be the kind of parent you want to be.
What Is a Parenting Style?
Each parent develops their way of dealing with their child. There are four recognized styles, but because parents often use different parenting styles at various times, each parent has their unique blend of styles. So, what is a style of parenting?
Parenting Style: Definition
A style of parenting is a set of strategies you use to raise your child. Researchers have come up with four basic parenting style categories called the Baumrind Parenting Styles. Each style has its unique characteristics.
Types of Parenting Styles
The four Baumrind Parenting Styles are:
Authoritative Parenting Examples
The Authoritative style is usually considered the most helpful for children in most instances. When parents are acting in the authoritative style, they focus on nurturing their children. Authoritative parents support their children and respond readily to their needs.
When parents use an authoritative style, they explain things to their children and take the time to listen to them. Authoritative parents reason with their children, although they may not agree with them on all points. Authoritative parents are their children's leaders and guides, as well as the ones who set important rules. The rules they set aren't excessive, but they're clear and consistent.
Authoritative parents expect much of their children, but they allow them to help set their own goals. Rather than pushing their children beyond what they can reasonably do, authoritative parents communicate with them often to help them achieve.
Imagine that a parent would like a child to get involved in after-school activities. If the parent is acting in an authoritative mode, they talk to the child about what kind of activity they would like to do. After listening to the child's opinion, the parent decides whether it is a good option for their child. They tell their child their decision and explain why they chose that option, and make sure that the child genuinely understands.
The Authoritative parent might ask the child how they can help them get started. Authoritative parents make sure the child has what they need for the activity and talks to them frequently about their progress after they begin.
In this example, a teenager has secretly skipped school. The Authoritative parent finds out about it and goes to the teen to talk about what happened and why they made that choice. The parent listens to the teen but also explains why they're disappointed and need to set limits.
Earlier in the teen's life, the parent has already let their child know that they always need to go to school unless they have permission to be absent. So, the teen isn't surprised when the parent explains the consequences of their actions. The parent then makes sure the child faces the consequences.
Consequences of Authoritative Parenting
Children whose parents have mostly used authoritative parenting tend to be healthy and well-adjusted. These children often have the following characteristics:
- Interested in finding out about their world
- Focused on achievement
Permissive or Indulgent Parenting Style
Someone who parents in the Permissive style is typically warm and kind to them. However, they don't set limits for them or have any firm expectations for good behavior. They may not know what their child is doing and may not know whether they are displaying maturity appropriate to their age. The parent and the child seem more like friends.
The school year starts, and the child comes home with a form to fill out to choose after-school activities. The Permissive parent might look over the sheet and tell the child how fun an activity would be.
However, if the child says they don't want to do any, the parent says it's okay. If they don't want to do it, they don't have to. The parent doesn't try to find out why or talk to the child about why it's a good idea to get involved. The parent drops the subject.
This is the situation where the teenager skips school. The parent finds out. They might or might not let the teen know that they've discovered they weren't at school. If the parent does ask them about it, they let the child control the conversation. They might tell them what they did was wrong, but even if they do, they don't stand their ground.
A permissive parent doesn't impose punishments or consequences. They don't take any actions to keep the child from skipping again or even show it if they think it's important. A permissive parent tends to want their child to like them, so they don't push.
Consequences of Permissive Parenting
When a mostly Permissive parent raises a child, they don't learn to set their limits. They might act impulsively and show little self-control. At the same time, they may seek to control others. They're typically aimless and don't usually focus on achievement. They're often rebellious.
Uninvolved or Neglectful Parenting Style
People with an uninvolved style of parenting don't respond to their child's needs. They don't make themselves available when their child needs them. They may even seem to reject their child. An uninvolved style of parenting is similar to being neglectful.
If the school sends home information about activities, the Uninvolved parent probably won't even look at the sheet. They don't ask the child if they want to do an activity or pay attention enough to notice the child's need to do it.
If the child decides to do the activity, the parent doesn't make sure they have the supplies they need or transportation to get home. Either the child can't keep it up, or someone else steps in to provide these things. If someone does take on those parental responsibilities, the child might bond to them and view them as a role model, whether that's a good idea or not.
If the child of an Uninvolved parent skips school, the parent typically won't respond at all. The only exception would be if the child's actions had consequences for the parent.
Consequences of Uninvolved Parenting
When children have received mostly neglectful parenting, they tend to think there's something wrong with them. Their self-esteem is low, and they have little self-confidence.
Disciplinarian or Authoritarian Parenting Style
A parent acting in the Authoritarian style is a strict disciplinarian. They rarely explain why they make the rules they make, but they expect the child to follow their rules explicitly. They expect their child to do what they want and to do it perfectly. When the child doesn't manage to satisfy them, they punish them.
When the child brings home their list of activities to choose from, the authoritarian parent tells them which one they must do. They don't listen to find out what the child wants. They also set rules about attendance and participation in the activity. They expect the child to excel in the activity, even though they don't nurture them with understanding or support.
If the teenager of an Authoritarian parent skips school, the parent immediately goes straight to punishment. They might lecture them about it. Even if they ask them why they skipped, they probably don't want to know. They don't listen or negotiate, regardless of what the teen's reason might be. They aren't interested.
Consequences of Authoritarian Parenting
Children raised by Authoritarian parents tend to be fearful. They usually have low self-esteem. They may be shy and have poor social skills. If the child wants to show someone they love them, their go-to response is obedience. When they're away from the Authoritarian parent, they risk them misbehaving in rebellion or never truly expressing themselves.
Using A Combined Parenting Style
As mentioned earlier here, most parents use a combination of styles. This can be helpful to deal with different situations in ways that are appropriate.
For example, if a child could do an afterschool activity, they'll probably have the best outcome if their parent uses an Authoritative parenting style, allowing them to have input before you make the final decision. However, in the second scenario, the parent might do the most good for their child by using an Authoritarian approach but with better communication.
Although it can be healthy to use different parenting styles, you must make sure your child knows what to expect from you as much as possible. They need consistent rules and consequences. They also need to be nurtured and supported. It's even okay to indulge your child on rare occasions.
While being a 'helicopter parent' may be harmful, there is little place for uninvolved parenting styles in healthy parenting. Instead, it's best to allow independence when possible without abandoning or neglecting your child.
What to Do If You're Concerned About Your Parenting Style
What type of parenting style do you usually use? If you aren't sure, think about how you communicate with and correct your child. You might feel that you could do a better job if you understood parenting better. You might even be worried about what could happen if you continue along on your present course.
Changing to a healthier parenting style might be very helpful for your child and your relationship with them. Making that change is rarely easy. Talking to a therapist can help you learn parenting skills like communication, negotiation, and self-control. When you talk to a licensed counselor at ReGain for online therapy, they can help you identify your unique parenting style and refine it to give the child what they need when they need it. You might have been on the wrong track before, but with help, you can parent your child to be a strong, independent, and caring adult.