Parenting has evolved a lot over the years and as more research comes to light, we are learning much about what you may need to raise healthy, well-adjusted children. Any book shop will have rows and rows of parenting books. The internet is flooded with parenting advice, so how can we filter this information and be the best parents we can possibly be?
The good news is that there is no one right way to raise a child. You will go on a journey that sees your kid learn, grow and change over time. The most important thing is that you are consistent and loving while setting clear and firm boundaries for your child.
What are the 4 different types of parenting styles?
Our parenting style plays a crucial role in determining how we respond to our children in certain situations. In the 1960s, developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted research that was instrumental in determining what we know today as the 4 different styles of parenting. Since then, further research has suggested that how you parent a child will have a significant and lasting impact and may affect how they too will parent in the future directly.
Here is a detailed description of the 4 different styles of parenting:
1. Permissive parenting
Permissive parents tend to be very passive and prefer to have a friendship-type relationship with their children. They often actively avoid conflict and allow their child to be in control—doing everything in their power to make sure that their children are kept happy. Permissive parents don’t have many rules or expectations for their children; their rules are not consistently enforced either.
The children of permissive parents often have trouble at school because they are not used to structure, rules or expectations. They are more likely to have behavioral problems and struggle with authority. Interestingly, the children of permissive parents are also more likely to experience health problems like obesity because their parents allow them to make unhealthy food choices. They are also at increased risk of cavities from poor diet and lack of oral hygiene.
2. Neglectful or uninvolved parents
As its name suggests, neglectful parents are disconnected and not focused on meeting their children’s needs or wants. Uninvolved parents expect their children to practically raise themselves and take a very hands-off approach to parenting. They don’t have as many rules and may have very low expectations of their kid’s behavior. In many circumstances, these parents may be dealing with their own mental health or substance abuse problems, and they lack knowledge of child development and effective parenting strategies.
The children of uninvolved or neglectful parents are likely to have low self-esteem, do poorly in school, and exhibit behavioral problems. Sadly, they are often unhappy children who have experienced childhood trauma that will have a lifelong impact.
3. Authoritarian parents
Authoritarian parents are often very demanding, enforce strict rules and have very high expectations of their children. Their communication style tends to be very one-sided. Such parents don’t take time to listen to their kids’ perspectives because they believe in demanding respect. An authoritarian parent likes to be the one in control; they prefer blind obedience from their children and can use harsh punishments in response to their children’s behavior.
The children of strict authoritarian parents are at a higher risk of low self-esteem because their feelings are not validated and their opinions are not valued. Over time, this can turn into anger and aggression and lead to poor relationships between parents and their children.
4. Authoritative parents
Authoritative parents usually have clear and consistent rules and expectations for their children and look for opportunities to support their children to reflect and learn from their mistakes. They are typically good communicators and take the time to listen to their children and have open and honest conversations, focusing on allowing natural consequences as teaching tools. The children of authoritative parents are more likely to be independent thinkers who can take responsibility for their actions.
Authoritative parents are more likely to focus on building and maintaining positive relationships with their children and are mostly kind but fair. They put much time and effort into preventing behavior problems by praising their children’s positive behavior and addressing issues as they arise.
The children of authoritative parents tend to be happy and grow into successful people. They are typically good at decision-making and can form positive and trusting relationships with others.
So what is the best style of parenting?
Our childhood experiences often shape our parenting style. Recognizing which parenting style we fit into can help us reflect and grow along the parenting journey and shift habits and behaviors that we would prefer to change. Research suggests that authoritative parents are more likely to raise self-reliant and socially strong children. They are also less likely to experience mental health issues, turn to substance abuse, or have poor self-regulation skills than children of authoritarian, permissive or neglectful parents.
Truthfully, the most successful parents are flexible enough to adjust their parenting style based on the situation at hand or context. For example, when a child is unwell, the parent might become more permissive. Sometimes children also need the rigid boundaries that authoritarian parents tend to employ. While we tend to fall into one particular parenting type, it is also common to identify with other parenting styles.
Difference between gentle parenting and permissive parenting
Often confused with permissive parenting that offers very little guidance or direction, gentle parenting has become a hot topic online. It involves establishing appropriate and firm boundaries with children and focuses on meeting children’s physical and emotional needs. In essence, gentle parenting is authoritative parenting. It’s about being kind, empathetic, and responsive to your children.
What a child needs from a parent
Several factors are essential for effective parenting. A healthy attitude towards sleep, eating habits, and discipline is key to ensuring that your child’s basic needs are being met and supporting their general sense of well-being, safety, and security.
It is also helpful to remember that discipline is not about punishment. Discipline teaches your child appropriate ways to behave while nurturing them and being supportive. Praise for positive behavior is more effective than punishing undesirable behavior. Physical forms of punishment, such as spanking, have been shown to have adverse outcomes— particularly on your child’s self-esteem.
There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect way to raise a self-reliant child. While it is clear that the authoritative style of parenting is associated with more positive behaviors and outcomes, we must also remember that every individual has their own temperament, perceptions and social influences. Maintaining a focus on connecting with your kids and responsive parenting means that you are more likely to be able to do what is most important—develop and maintain a solid and positive relationship with your child. That’s right! It’s all about relationships!