The Best Parenting Style For You And Your Kids

Updated April 9, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Parenting is challenging. There will be times when you feel like you've got it down and other times when you question whether or not you're doing the right thing. This is normal and not something you should beat yourself up over; even the best parents make mistakes. Nobody gets it right all the time; in reality, parenting is, in many cases, something you learn as you go.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh
Want to learn about parenting styles from a professional?

As a parent, you may naturally wonder which parenting style is best for you and your kids. Generally, there are four parenting styles: uninvolved, permissive, authoritative, and authoritarian. 

A review of different parenting styles

Not all parents will engage in the same parenting style. Parents sometimes switch between various styles or maintain that their children are more compatible with certain styles than others. Regardless of which camp you fall into, knowing the basics of each parenting style will be of value to you as a parent.

Uninvolved parenting

Uninvolved or hands-off parenting is when the parents fulfill the child's basic needs, such as providing them with food and clothing, but are otherwise detached from their child’s life. These parents do not have a particular discipline style, don’t communicate with their children, and don’t have a lot of expectations for them. Many parents who engage in hands-off parenting promote self-reliance and smart choices, but this is not always the best path. Children of uninvolved parents may have trouble controlling their emotions, meeting academic challenges, maintaining healthy relationships, or coping with life’s challenges.

Permissive parenting

Getty/Vadym Pastukh

Permissive parenting is when parents make a habit of bending to the will of their kids and failing to enforce rules. In many cases, permissive parents are nurturing but can act more like their child’s friends than their parents. Limited rules can also lead to many bad habits, as the parent does not provide much guidance about moderation. Children of permissive parents may develop unhealthy eating habits, impulsivity, and a lack of self-control. 

Authoritative parenting

A balance between maintaining ground rules and a healthy relationship with your kids is authoritative parenting. Authoritative parents set guidelines for their children, but they also explain the reasons behind them and why they're in the children's best interest. They listen to their child's perspective, but this does not always change the mind of an authoritative parent. Overall, parenting authoritatively is linked to massively beneficial outcomes for children, including a healthy, loving relationship with their parents.

Authoritarian parenting

"My house, my rules" is the mindset of authoritarian parents. Unlike authoritative parents, authoritarian parents expect obedience and respect simply because they are parents. Traditional and old-fashioned parenting styles tend to resonate with authoritarian parents, although this type of parenting can fracture a healthy, emotional connection between children and parents. As kids get older, they may be more likely to rebel or otherwise find sneaky ways to get around the rules and restrictions of their parents.

Why is authoritative parenting best for you and your children?

Authoritative parenting is seen as the optimal parenting style due to its incorporation of ground rules, discipline, and care for the thoughts and feedback of children. This parenting style will especially prove valuable as children get older and become more eager to explore their independence.

Balance

Allowing children to do whatever they want without guidance is as dangerous as being an overbearing, austere parent who fails to hear out their child. Authoritative parenting is a healthy middle ground. Parents set rules and expect them to be followed, but they also explain the reasons behind them, ensuring that children know their parents care for them.

Positive development

Authoritative parenting is linked to positive development in children for several reasons. First and foremost, this manner of parenting involves sitting down with children and explaining why specific rules are in place. Over the long term, this helps kids understand how to make beneficial choices. Children who make mistakes or otherwise fall short tend to feel comfortable divulging this to parents, assuming that a healthy relationship exists.

Learning potential

In many cases, learning is viewed as something mutually exclusive to children. This is a common misconception, but the reality is that hearing out a child's perspective and outlook can be eye-opening and enlightening to parents. Learning is an opportunity to remain open, even if the information comes from their children. Unlike other styles of parenting, authoritative parenting involves truly hearing a child and considering their opinions.

Getty/MoMo Productions
Want to learn about parenting styles from a professional?

Better adulthood

Time and time again, authoritative parenting is linked to children who grow into more sound and accomplished adults. The ultimate goal of any parent should be to ensure that they're setting up their kids for success as they grow into adults. Authoritative parenting helps foster this; adult children of authoritative parents are typically responsible, independent, respectful, and able to make good judgment calls. Authoritative parenting is also linked to children who can resist peer pressure and other negative influences.

Having a relationship with your children

Individuals who subscribe to the authoritarian parenting style often state that they shouldn't be friends with their children; this is the polar opposite of permissive parents, who often want to be viewed as friends. Parents must understand the difference between being friends with their children and maintaining a healthy, loving relationship.

Why should you have a relationship with your kids?

Having a relationship with your children impacts how they grow into adults, the treatment they learn to accept from others, and even how they conduct themselves in challenging situations. This goes back to the pitfalls of excessively strict, authoritarian parenting, which can erode positive relationships between parents and children. Kids who maintain positive relationships with their parents are more likely to confide in them when they get into trouble; this can be very good, as certain predators actively seek young people who seem disconnected from their families and others. For divorce parents, this can be an extra struggle. However, healthy co-parenting is possible if parents prioritize their children.

If you're struggling with parenting, online therapy can help

If you're a parent having difficulty raising or connecting with your children, you are not alone. Parenting can be quite rewarding at times, but there are other occasions where it presents unique challenges. This happens in addition to other areas of your life, which may also cause stress.

Asking for help and seeking professional therapy is a great idea for anyone having a rough time parenting their children. Unfortunately, many parents beat themselves up when they feel like they're doing something incorrectly; wanting to improve as a parent is great, but mishandling this feeling can backfire on both the parent and the child. Of course, having a spouse or others in the community can be of great value, but this is not always possible.

Signing up for online therapy can take an immense burden off your shoulders, whether you're dealing with parenting challenges or another matter entirely. One of the greatest upsides of online therapy is that you can attend sessions anytime, anywhere you have an internet connection. Unlike more traditional forms of mental health care, you don't have to deal with the hassle of making it to a therapist's office each week. 

Research shows that online therapy is effective, too. In fact, one review of 14 studies concluded there was no difference in effectiveness between online and in-person treatment and that there is “strong support for the adoption of online psychological interventions as a legitimate therapeutic activity.” If you want to learn more, get started with Regain.

For Additional Help & Support With Your ConcernsThis website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started
This website is owned and operated by BetterHelp, who receives all fees associated with the platform.