“You gotta be kidding me… there are only 4 styles of parenting?!”
If that is your exact thought, you are not alone there. From what I know of parenting, there are definitely more than just four styles of parenting. There have got to be at least 38 styles, not counting the “I-give-up-just-leave-me-be” style that we succumb to on those days when nothing works.
We hear non-stop that styles of parenting are one of the most important ingredients in raising a child right. When what is at stake is their FUTURE, how can we neglect our parts in their lives? The next question would be, “What are the different styles of parenting?”
At a glance, here are some of the things we will be looking at:
- Finding Your Style Of Parenting
- The Authoritarian Parenting STyle
- The Authoritative Parenting Style
- The Permissive Parenting Style
- The Uninvolved Parenting Style
- The Free Range Parenting Style
- The Helicopter Parenting Style
- Effects Of Parenting Styles On Children
- Diana Baumrind’s Three Styles Of Parenting
- Verdict: The Best Parenting Style
- Other Factors That Affect How Children Turn Out
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Finding Your Style Of Parenting
Quick show of hands for those of us who are unsure about our parenting style. Yes, all hands are up (some with both hands) as expected. What are the different styles of parenting? Well, here is a quick styles of parenting quiz to find out what your parenting style is like.
Your styles of parenting quiz results will fall into one of the below categories:
- Authoritarian Parenting
- Authoritative Parenting
- Permissive Parenting
- Uninvolved Parenting
Once you figure out your parenting style, things start to get interesting. What are the four styles of parenting? Let’s take a look at each (and more!) of the parenting styles. Some even call it the “Styles Of Parenting Psychology”, because it looks at how and why styles of parenting form.
I’ve taken the liberty of looking at an additional two parenting styles not included in the quiz. Although controversial, some of us may very well subscribe to the style of parenting!
- Free-Range Parenting
- Helicopter Parenting
The Authoritarian Parenting Style
You believe that:
- Your words are the golden commands.
- No disobedience is tolerated.
- Children should be seen and not heard.
- Feelings are secondary. You prefer the facts.
Coming from an Asian background, this describes my own parents to the tee. The general response to questions is, “Because I said so!” Not to mention, the endless, endless string of punishments – pinching noses, nipping ears, slap on arms, and the fearful caning.
An authoritarian parent is described as “stern”, “rigid”, and “cold”. You may rely on unbending rules, threats, force, and punishment. Communication is mainly one-way: You tell your child what to do, and they follow without comments.
Tough love? In the now immortalized “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”, Amy Chua talks about this exact style of parenting. This style is preferred because children tend to be high achievers and have a great résumé that includes awards, co-curricular involvement, music classes, sports events, and even volunteering.
If you think that “I grew up with an authoritarian parent too, and I’m fine!” you may wish to know what research says about this. Using strict and harsh parenting methods cause emotional distress, low moods, and more vulnerability to stress. As a result, children will be likely to be aggressive, disobedient, and engage in antisocial behaviors (drinking, vandalizing, breaking the law, etc.).
The Authoritative Parenting Style
You believe that:
- A positive relationship with your child is important.
- Rules should always be given with explanations.
- Your child’s feelings should be validated.
J.K. Rowling’s all-time favorite character Professor Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter series) comes to mind. Loved and respected by students, he takes time to talk with them and yet manages to enforce discipline effectively in school.
An authoritative parent makes it clear that they expect their rules to be followed, but in a way that still makes children feel heard and loved. Therefore, they use positive reinforcement in the form of praise or hugs when children follow rules.
Your style of parenting is supported by most of the current research to raise happy, well-rounded, and confident children. You have the balance between rule enforcement and a loving environment all figured out. Congratulations!
Alas, implementing an authoritative parenting style takes time and effort. Even on days when you are tired of explaining for the millionth time, you still have to be patient and ensure that your child understands why they “cannot stick Cheerios to the wall”.
The Permissive Parenting Style
You believe that:
- Children learn best if left to their own devices.
- Parents’ priorities are their work.
- Giving in is better than tantrums or fights at home.
- Being a friend to your children is important.
Honestly, I used to be envious of friends with permissive parents. They get away with almost any naughtiness, and no one nags at their unfinished homework. Life is gold when you have no curfew and no (enforced) homework.
A permissive parent has little to no say in what their child does. Rules are not expected to be followed, and no consequences or punishment for misbehaving can be lenient “as long as they apologize sincerely”. Life is…easy? Or not.
You are implicitly trusted by your children, who tell you to keep their secrets. You rarely get upset, because you believe that childhood is about feeling good. As such, you feel proud of your parenting style and buy random presents for your children “just because”.
Children who grew up with few rules or boundaries find it difficult to respect those that belong to their school or community. They report more sadness, struggles with friends, and low self-esteem. More importantly, they tend to have more physical health issues like obesity and teeth cavities (no limits to junk food or enforcement of brushing teeth).
The Uninvolved Parenting Style
You believe that:
- Children should only be present when they are adults.
- The whereabouts of children should be the responsibility of teachers or domestic helpers.
- Your time is better spent in work or other areas with better ROI (Return Of Investment).
In the mid-to-late nineteenth century, British Victorian aristocracy members had their children looked after by nannies or governesses all day long. They called for their children for about one hour a day, for a set time each day (or some, less than that).
An uninvolved parent has little to no idea of what their children are up to. They do not know their children’s favorite meal, color, or class attended in school. In short, they do not know their children other than “little people who live in the house”. It may not be intentional, because sometimes the parent is facing some major problems too.
You have plenty of time and energy to invest in your work, hobbies, and pets. You have adequate freedom to engage in other priorities. Sometimes, you feel good knowing that your children are in good hands with other loved ones or helpers.
Those who had uninvolved parents often report feeling sad and lonely. They struggle with self-esteem from perceived abandonment by parents, with lower academic performance and behavior problems. Parents with this style are also likely to feel guilt for not being more present.
The four styles of parenting listed above include their own styles of parenting psychology. Now, let’s take a look at an additional two that were not listed in the styles of parenting quiz.
The Free-Range Parenting Style
You believe that:
- Children learn best from the natural environment.
- Freedom is important, especially in childhood.
- Independence can be gained at an early age.
The parenting style Tara Westover had from her childhood in her memoir, “Educated” fits the criteria for free-range parenting. Her father did not send them to school, and instead got all their children work in the scrapyard or mixing health potions. The children got into multiple accidents and did not receive medical attention.
While it sounds similar, the free-range parent is not uninvolved or permissive. They simply believe that children can handle mature responsibilities. Unplanned activities and trips out in nature will be common. All in all, children are given the freedom and chance to “be children”.
Your children learn basic skills and pick up responsibilities when they are young. You feel confident that they can survive on their own for short periods. You are called “spontaneous” and “fun” by your children.
You will never be free from criticism. As freedom and independence look different to each person, some will say that you are too lenient while others wonder if you’re neglecting your children. Also, you will find it hard to stick to a routine since there will be unplanned activities.
The Helicopter Parenting Style
You believe that:
- Your children’s success is of utmost importance.
- You prevent your children’s heartbreak and failure by being involved in their lives.
- You should always be aware of what your children are up to.
The term helicopter brings to mind someone who is always revolving around a point of attraction. You will always try to land on the helipad, but others will behave cautiously to avoid being crushed by the helicopter (you!).
Your child will always be safe and protected. They will not go through needless pain or trouble in their lives because you are there to guide them through the safest paths. Your child will have a closer relationship with you as they rely heavily on you. On top of that, you will generally feel secure because you will always have your child figured out.
This also means that your child has a low tolerance for anxiety, stress, or negative emotions. They did not manage to learn the skills to cope with such situations. As a result, they have low self-esteem and confidence. Not to mention the self-entitlement of always having someone to manage their lives for them!
What Are The Different Styles Of Parenting?
|Styles Of Parenting||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Authoritarian||High-achieving children with great résumés||Children have emotional distress, vulnerability to stress, aggression, disobedience, anti-social tendencies|
|Authoritative||Happy, well-rounded, confident children||Extra time, effort, and patience are required by the parent|
|Permissive||High trust with childrenHappy parenthood||Sadness, friendship struggles, and low self-esteem in children|
|Uninvolved||Good parent-life balanceA high degree of freedom||Sad and lonely childrenGuilt in parent|
|Free-Range||Early mastery of life skills and independence in children||High level of criticism received from other parentsHard to implement routine|
|Helicopter||Safe and protected childrenHigh reliance on parent||Low tolerance for anxiety, stress, and negative emotionsLow self-esteem and confidence in children|
Effects Of Parenting Style On Children
Sometimes, children who grew up in very different backgrounds have similar characteristics. On the other hand, we all know that living in the same house does not mean that our kiddos have the same nature! This is how and why different styles of parenting come into play.
In Malaysia (a South-East Asian country) research found that the gender of children influences the choice of parenting styles. Parents used more authoritarian parenting styles on boys and authoritative parenting styles on girls. This meant that girls received more attention from their parents, especially when they were off from work.
The interesting results found that over time, these girls had a longer attention span and could focus better in school. Indirectly, it means that paying more attention to your children (in an authoritative style of parenting) leads to greater focus and better school performance!
|Parenting Styles With Most Attention Given To Children (High To Low)|
|1||The Helicopter Parent|
|2||The Authoritative Parent|
|3||The Authoritarian Parent|
|4||The Permissive Parent|
|5||The Free-Range Parent|
|6||The Uninvolved Parent|
High Demanding, Low Acceptance: Authoritarian Parenting
Parents adopting authoritarian styles of parenting have high expectations on children, while being less responsive towards them. They place higher-than-average demands of children with minimal instructions and no tolerance for mistakes. Harsh discipline methods may include physical punishment (such as caning) or stern rebukes.
As you may expect, children growing up in this environment will be obedient and proficient. However, research tells us that they will lack social skills and self-confidence because they do not learn how to initiate projects or explore their environments. Friends may find them less “sporting” or adventurous.
High Demanding, High Acceptance: Authoritative Parenting
Parents with authoritative styles of parenting use reasoning, explanation, and clear expectations to tell children how to behave. They share loving gestures and words while being supportive of all family members. When experiencing conflict, they are likely to confront children with terms that can be negotiated while focusing on the best outcome.
This parenting style has the best reputation amongst modern parents and researchers. Mainly, children with authoritative parents perform well in school, work, and life in general. They are happier and well-adjusted with a healthy dose of self-esteem.
Low Demanding, High Acceptance: Permissive Parenting
Permissive parents may have rules but rarely enforce any discipline. They are warm and try to fulfill their children’s needs. Children get to stay up late, eat food they want, and make decisions at an early age. Sometimes parents say, “I want to be their friend.”
Children with permissive parents grow up with high self-esteem and good social skills, as expected when you are prioritized and feel of equal standing with adults. Unfortunately, this also leads to problem behaviors, since they do not learn how to claim responsibility for their actions.
Low Demanding, Low Acceptance: Uninvolved Parenting
This parenting style, although unimaginable to most parents, is more common than you think. Sometimes, a parent can be too caught up with work, bills, managing households, or mental health problems. It may be out of necessity, such as in the case of a single parent.
Children growing up with an uninvolved style of parenting grow up with low-self esteem. This is because they did not receive the attention and love from their parents to grow confidence. They tend to be less competent than their friends in school and work. Sometimes, they show problematic behaviors out of a need to gain the attention of adults in their lives.
Diana Baumrind’s Three Styles Of Parenting
The 4 main styles of parenting we discuss are contributed by Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist in the 1960s. Baumrind first paid attention to parenting styles as she noticed that preschool children behaved differently with different parenting methods. She named the first three styles of parenting: authoritarian parenting, authoritative parenting, and permissive parenting.
The last addition of uninvolved parenting (or neglectful parenting) was added to her theory by Stanford researchers, Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin. On top of the three styles of parenting, this forms what is largely now known as the four styles of parenting:
- Authoritarian Parenting
- Authoritative Parenting
- Permissive Parenting
- Uninvolved Parenting
Most Widely Used Parenting Style
Based on statistics in the US, the most popular parenting style (at 46%) is the authoritative parenting style. Approximately 26% use the authoritarian parenting style, 18% use the permissive parenting style, and 10% the uninvolved parenting style.
Baumrind’s styles of parenting may not apply to all cultures and communities, as Asian or Mexican cultures had some differences in numbers (2% difference). Additionally, other factors can also come into play as her work is now over 50 years old. Take heed!
Verdict: The Best Parenting Style
As you have probably guessed by now, the most recommended style of parenting is the authoritative parenting style. The common behaviors exhibited by parents are:
- High standards yet accommodative to child’s needs
- Advocates frequent and clear communication
- Supports independent growth
- Allows for failure, so that children learn from their experiences
- Involved in their children’s lives
Why is it the best? Let’s look at the top three reasons why an authoritative parenting style is supported by experts.
#1 Allowing Mistakes
Authoritative parents allow natural consequences to occur, and eagerly teach their children how to learn from the experience. This is different from permissive or free-range parenting where children are either rescued or not taught how to learn from their mistakes.
This means that children are given the freedom to fail at something, but also guidance to prevent mistakes from seeming “too big”.
#2 Corrective Discipline
Although controversial, authoritative parents do not believe in corporal punishment such as caning or “tough love”. Studies tell us that punishments may be effective in the short term, but children eventually learn how to tolerate such measures.
Instead, authoritative parents make use of reinforcement strategies by giving praise and tokens when a child is obedient, successful, and behaving well.
#3 Conflict Management
Children of authoritative parents learn how to negotiate, be assertive, and listen to another point of view at an early age. This is because authoritative parents model good listening, reasoning, and negotiation skills during conflicts. With clear expectations communicated, children know how to behave at home or outside.
The key method for conflict management is by communicating the reasons behind each perspective such as why a curfew is necessary or how weekday night hours should be spent. It inspires cooperation from children and helps them thrive within healthy boundaries.
Other Factors That Affect How Children Turn Out
Let’s face it. There are so many things that need to be done as a parent, on top of work and family obligations. Now you have to learn and figure out how to be a better parent? It feels like too much work.
If a style of parenting is not compatible with your character, it will be hard to try a new approach to parenting. At least five common frustrations for parents are:
- Frustration learning parenting attitudes and techniques different to your culture
- Conflicting family values from social media, other loved ones, and travel
- Anxiety and guilt from your performance as a parent
- Constantly switching parenting approaches after learning something new
- A lack of support for parents
Always use a consistent and stable approach to parenting and give it time to see how effective it can be. You’ll find that those frustrating moments happen less and less frequently!
Did you know that your social class, also known as socioeconomic status (SES), influences your style of parenting? The different ways you lead your lives and where you choose to live it out decide how you interact with others, including your children.
High SES families can afford to pay for a range of services (e.g. music classes, sports training sessions) and exposure to new experiences such as holidays. This makes children more likely to be exposed to a lenient and supportive parenting approach. Of course, sometimes this can also mean that an uninvolved parenting style is adopted because parents simply are too busy working!
On the other hand, low SES families prioritize complete obedience and respect towards elders. They may show less warmth towards their children, preferring more authoritarian methods of parenting. This may be the influence of the types of jobs they are in which requires respect and obedience to authority figures.
The Child’s Temperament
This is one secret factor that is not well-known: children’s characteristics affect what styles of parenting used too! This will affect how they turn out in the long run.
Take a child who is more sensitive for example. If he or she tends to be fearful and cries frequently, parents may opt for authoritarian methods. “Stop crying right now!”
A child who is cheeky and overactive may lead to parents adopting permissive parenting styles to avoid the hassle of implementing boundaries. Let’s face it, discipline and rules enforcement take up so much time!
Why Is Authoritative Parenting Linked With Successful Kids?
Authoritative parents act as role models and exhibit the same behaviors they expect from their children. It is successful because children learn how to internalize these behaviors and show them naturally. On top of this, parents apply consistent rules and discipline with clear expectations for their children.
What Happens When Two Parents Have Different Parenting Styles?
It causes confusion in children about how to act and what to expect in response to their behavior. Parenting is not easy, even when both parents are on the same side. When parenting styles are different, it leads to marital and relational conflicts, stress, poor coping methods, and defense mechanisms.
What Are The Factors That Influence Parenting Styles?
A parent’s age, gender identity, personality, developmental history, beliefs, knowledge about parenting and child development, and mental and physical health affects their parenting styles. Secondly, the personalities of parents and children contribute to the choice of parenting style selected. Lastly, context and culture play a part in parenting styles learned.
By now, you should have an idea of which of the 4 styles of parenting you fall under. Don’t worry if you qualify for more than one style of parenting, because I know for sure that I sometimes end up “authoritarian for a day”!
Styles of parenting lead to different outcomes for children, with the authoritative parenting style emerging as the clear winner. This includes well-adapted children with strong confidence, social skills, and self-esteem. However, don’t forget that other factors such as parental attitudes, social class, and the child’s temperament also affect how our children grow.
The moral of the story is this—use the parenting style that is most helpful for you and your family.
If you are looking for other resources that will help you on your parenting journey, you can refer to: