Being a parent is a life-long exciting and (no doubt) at times a stressful experience. Something that has become more common throughout mainstream society has been the topic of parenting styles. Parenting styles are a combination of strategies, techniques, and behaviours that you use to interact and raise your children. The concept of parenting styles originated from Diana Baumrind during the 1960’s, and has continued to remain current within today’s mental health field. Baumrind (1991) outlined 4 different types of parenting styles with corresponding characteristics:
- Authoritarian Parenting– In this style, children are expected to follow strict rules established by the parents. Failure to follow such rules usually results in punishment of some form. Authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules. If asked to explain, the parent might simply replay, “Because I said so.” These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children. According to Baumrind, these parents “are obedience- and- status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation” (1991).
- Permissive Parenting– Permissive parents, sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, have very few demands to make of their children. These parents rarely discipline their children because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control for their children. According to Baumrind, permissive parents “are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation” (1991). Permissive parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent.
- Authoritative Parenting– Like authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow. However, this parenting style is much more democratic. Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. When children fail to meet expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing. Baumrind suggests that these parents “monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative” (1991).
- Uninvolved Parenting– An uninvolved parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. While these parents fulfill the child’s basic needs, they are generally detached from their child’s life. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect the needs of their children.
So, why does any of this information matter!?! Well, researchers in the field of child and family development have conducted numerous studies that have led to a number of conclusions about the impact of parenting styles on children’s overall development. Here are some of their conclusions:
- Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but rank lower on happiness, social competence (interpersonal relationships and socialization), and self-esteem.
- Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
- Authoritative parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable, and successful (Maccoby, 1992).
- Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.
Out of all the parenting styles, Authoritative parenting appears to provide the most advantages over the other styles. This is because children are able to perceive their parents’ requests as fair and reasonable, they are more likely to comply with the requests (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2003). Also the child is more likely to internalize (or accept as their own) the reasons for behaving in a certain way and achieving greater self-control (Hockenbury & Hockenbury, 2003).
So, one has to wonder why all parents simply don’t utilize am authoritative parenting approach? After all, this parenting style is the most likely to produce happy, confident, and capable children. Well, some potential causes of these differences in parenting approaches could include: culture, personality, family size, parental background, socioeconomic status, education level, and/or religion.
Something to keep in mind- often families have a blend of parenting styles between the parents/ caregivers to create a unique parenting style and corresponding family environment for each child. For example, a mother may display a permissive parenting approach, while the father displays a more authoritarian approach.
In order to create a cohesive approach to parenting, it is essential that parents learn to cooperate as they combine various elements of their unique parenting styles.
Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56-95.
Hockenbury, D. H. & Hockenbury, S. E. (2003). Psychology. New York: Worth Publishers.
Maccoby, E. E. (1992). The rold of parents in the socialization of children: An historical overview. Developmental Psychology, 28, 10006-1017.