Do You Know?
Do You Know Your Parenting Style?

No one ever said that being a parent was simple. But remember that no one is perfect and parenting is a process. :)

Parenting differs from parent to parent and from family to family and child to child. It depends on many factors, including how each parent's parents raised them. A lot of times, parents raise their children how they were raised. Each family is different however, as already mentioned. Parenting styles of each parent combine to make a unique blend. For example, if 2 parents have different parenting styles, they might compromise to find a blended approach both parents can agree on. In this situation, parents must work together to be a united disciplinary approach and agree on the combination of parenting style elements. Other factors in creating an individual's parenting style can be culture, personality, family size, parental background, socioeconomic status, educational level, and religion.

In the early 1960s, a psychologist named Diana Baumrind conducted a study on over 100 preschool-age children (Baumrind, 1967). She used observation, interviews from parents, and other research methods to identify 4 dimensions of parenting: discipline, warmth, communication, and expectations for maturity and control. Based on these 4 dimensions, Baumrind suggested that most parents display one of three different parenting styles. Further research by also suggested a fourth parenting style (Maccoby & Martin, 1983).

The 4 parenting styles are:
1. Authoritative
2. Authoritarian
3. Permissive
4. Uninvolved/ Hands-off

Below: Descriptions
and Impacts of each style

Description of each parenting style:

1. Authoritarian

In the Authoritarian style of parenting, children are expected to follow their parents' rules. The parents’ word is law. Authoritarian parents love and care about their children but they show less warmth and affection. Their demands for maturity and control are high. When children to do follow the rules, it results in consequences and strict punishment but does not cross the line into abuse. Authoritarian parents typically do not explain the reasoning behind the rules. The parents' reply to questioning would be something like "because I said so." According to Baumrind, Authoritarian parents "are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation" (1991).

This style suggests that home is not a democracy. Old-
fashioned rules will help your children understand where
they stand, what they are allowed to do, and what is
expected of them. Unlike permissive parents who always
want to be liked, authoritarian parents expect to be

2. Authoritative

Authoritative parenting has been found to be the most effective parenting style in many ways including academic, social-emotional, and behavioral. Like Authoritarian parents, the Authoritative parents expect a lot from their children, however they also expect even more from their own behavior. They are willing to say "no" or to lay down the line, but they are careful to stay calm, kind, and patient and to empathize with their child’s perspective. Authoritative parents demand maturity and control but are also nurturing and higher in warmth and are more understanding and forgiving when demands are not met.

3. Permissive

Permissive style of parenting is currently common today due to busy schedules, 2 income families, and a feeling that they
just don’t get enough quality time with our kids. These
parents love their children very much and want to be
their friend and not to have to put their foot down
and tell them "no." They might feel guilty about not
having enough time to spend with their children so the
time they do have to spend with them, they do not
want to spend it fussing at them. Permissive parents make few demands on their children and discipline is lax. Permissive parents are very accepting and nurturing and communicate well with their children.

4. Uninvolved/ Hands-off

The Uninvolved parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness, and little communication. Uninvolved parents fulfill the child's basic needs but they are usually detached from their child's life. In extreme cases, Uninvolved parents might reject or neglect the other needs of their children such as academic, social-emotional, or behavioral.

Hands-off / Uninvolved parenting emphasizes learning through experience. These parents believe that you should not shelter your children from the lessons that that they learn from making mistakes.

(below) Recreation of the Chart of Characteristics from
The Developing Person: Through Childhood and Adolescence Ed 6

Impact of each parenting style:

1. Authoritarian

Authoritarian parenting usually leads to obedient and proficient children, but they tend to rank lower in happiness, social competence, and self-esteem. Children raised by Authoritarian parents are more likely to feel guilty or depressed.

The problem with this strict, rule-based style of parenting is that it can affect the affection and communication that helps children and parents stay emotionally connected. When children are young, a strictly run household certainly can look very structured, orderly, and admirable, but as the children grow up and become teenagers who experiment with their independence, they might be so afraid of their parents’ that they become secretive or rebellious, pushing as hard as they can against the rules and strictness. Children of Authoritarian style parenting might never learn to speak up or think for themselves, which are two important skills out in the work world.

You can make the most of Authoritarian style parenting by
valuing your clarity, your high expectations, and your tough
love. Make sure that your children understand very clearly
that your strictness comes from love.  You can show your
children your love without spoiling them.

2. Authoritative

With this style of parenting is not always easy to walk the line. It takes energy, time, and self-control but the benefits are great when you raise children to know that you have high expectations and yet maintain close emotional ties and create a strong bond of trust. Authoritative parents’ children are more likely to be successful, articulate, happy, self-confident, and generous.

3. Permissive

Unfortunately, when parents indulge their children’s every whim, there can be consequences both for the children and the parents. Children raised by Permissive parents are less happy and lack in self-control. The children can end up feeling entitled to getting what they want, not what they need which includes self-restraint, patience, and other character traits that will help them succeed in life. Parents who simply give in to the short-term battles face bigger battles down the road when the child is used to running the show such
as cheating on homework and assignments, talking back parents,
or not behaving responsibly.
Permissive parents have overwhelming affection for their
children. The problem with this is that sometimes these
parents don’t think about the long-term consequences of
their parenting choices. Without dismissing short-term
happiness all together, also consider the child’s long-term happiness and make smart parenting decisions.
In the end, act from love, what will be the best thing for your child tomorrow… next week… in 10 years.

4. Uninvolved/ Hands-off

It is hard sometimes to know when to let our children make their own mistakes.
In times of our own stress, it is simply easier to tell your child that you have had enough and they are on their own.

The downside to this style is that it can become about the parent and not about the child and their needs. For example, by not helping, the parent is teaching the child to be independent and autonomous but at what expense. If a child really needs help, it can be discouraging for the child and it may lead to them giving up and not asking for help since they know they will not receive it. The Uninvolved parent could argue that by not being involved, they are helping their child to be more independent. However, for example, if your child needs help on his or her homework and you just refuse to help and suggest that he or she just does not do it if (s)he cannot figure it out, is not teaching autonomy, that is just being a lazy parent.

                              This approach follows the philosophy that everyone must
                              learn to take care of themselves. These parents believe that
                              they are raising an adult rather than a child. They believe
                              that every person must learn to take care of him or herself
                              and be independent.  Be careful though, because sometimes
                              it is hard for the hands-off parent to remember how long it
                              can take for children to learn adult lessons.

It is hard as parents to know when to let children make their own mistakes and when it is ok to step in. Uninvolved parents need to keep in mind that even when a child may seem overly dependent and whiny, they are asking for needed guidance. Give them the tools they need and help them break down a problem into more manageable age-appropriate steps that they can do it on their own.


Textbook: 6th edition of The Developing Person: Through Childhood and Adolescence from the Adolescent Psychology class at Virginia Commonwealth University