Our own personalities can often play heavily into our relationships with our children and, specifically, in how we raise them. We develop our own parenting styles that will ultimately guide our children through their development.
In the ’60s, a clinical psychologist named Diana Baumrind actually developed a model that classifies parenting styles into four different categories: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive, and Uninvolved. Most parents don’t fit cleanly into any one of these categories; most are probably a combination of two or more of these styles. Nonetheless, it’s important to recognize the traits that characterize these parenting styles and the effects they can have on our children.
It’s also important to note that these categories were developed in a very US-based perspective. It is very likely that parenting styles from other cultures won’t fit into any of these categories at all, or at least, not in the same ways.
This is the “because I said so” style of parenting. Authoritarian parents set rules without explaining them and believe in punishments rather than explanations or other kinds of discipline. Making their children feel bad about their mistakes rather than explaining how to fix the behavior is how Authoritarian parents tend to deal with issues.
Children’s feelings aren’t taken into account very often. Although this often results in obedient children, it can often come at the price of serious self-esteem issues and other forms of unhappiness. Children raised by Authoritarian parents can feel resentment towards their parents and even turn hostile or angry. Additionally, since punishments are given without explanation, these kids can develop a good ability to avoid punishments without correcting behavior—this is, they become good liars.
Rather than set rules and give punishments without explanations, Authoritative parents make sure everything is well communicated so that their children fully understand the rules, the consequences, and the importance of behaving well. They are still very much in charge, but they make sure to take their kids’ feelings into account every step of the way.
Although discipline comes with a conversation and helping their children understand what was wrong and what needs to change, Authoritative parents will put in plenty of effort to make sure these discipline problems never arise in the first place, using positive reinforcement when appropriate. This is considered the healthiest way to raise children, and children raised by Authoritative parents often grow up to be responsible, successful, and comfortable sharing their feelings.
Permissive parents are very easy-going. They might set rules, but there’s likely no consequence to breaking these rules. These parents like to say that “kids will be kids” and believe that the best way to raise their children is to not interfere too much.
Since begging or sadness will likely discourage discipline from Permissive parents, children raised with this parenting style often don’t respect rules or authority very much and will likely lack a degree of self-discipline. This often translates into poor academic performance. A lack of consequences or discipline can also lead to physical health concerns, like obesity and cavities, since Permissive parents can struggle to limit food and candy intake. Permissive parents are often described as playing a “friend” role rather than a parent role.
Uninvolved parents fit the label pretty exactly: they might not know where their child is more often than not, they might not ask about homework or other things that their kid has going on, and they might not spend a lot of time with their child at all. Not very many rules are set in place, and children receive little attention, let alone guidance or nurturing.
Uninvolved parents tend to neglect their children, expecting them to raise themselves and not meeting their kids’ needs, but it isn’t always on purpose. It can result from a very busy lifestyle, mental health issues, or even simply not being familiar with how to raise a child in the first place. Children raised under this parenting style often have self-esteem problems and can feel unhappy. They can also struggle academically.
It isn’t tough to understand why professionals agree that the Authoritative parenting style is considered the best and healthiest way to raise a child. Not all of us will naturally be this kind of parent, however. It’s important to remember that, although this parenting style is considered the best, it’s also perfectly normal to not fit strictly into one parenting style, which also means that it can be very healthy to aim to implement a few key Authoritative practices, like great communication. Researchers also claim that, while children typically respond better to having a uniform parenting style in the household, it’s preferred to have any one of the parents be Authoritative than to have a different, uniform style.
What parenting style are you, and what practices do you find useful and interesting from different parenting styles? Understanding how your child responds to your parenting style and the teaching styles they encounter at school, and the myriad of other relationships they experience throughout their day, are other important factors to take into account.