In the 1960s Diane Baumrind, a developmental psychologist, created a famously referenced categorization of parenting styles. She identified three common styles of parenting behavior: Authoritative, Authoritarian, and Permissive. Adding to the three styles introduced by Baumrind, in the 1980s psychologists Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin introduced the fourth style: uninvolved or neglectful parenting. Since then this has been the basis of many studies about child developmental growth.
Parents play a huge role in shaping what kind of person a child grows up to be. They have a significant impact on their child’s behavior and attitude towards important things in life. According to the four parenting styles, the child’s manners, habits, practices, and chances of success are strongly influenced by the style of parenting they enforce. So what are these parenting styles and how do they affect the developmental growth of the child?
Authoritarian parents impose authority on children will little to no negotiation possible. They make the rules and enforce the consequences with little regard for the child’s opinion, feelings, or social-emotional and behavioral needs. They also don't allow kids to get involved in problem-solving challenges or obstacles.
While they have high demands, authoritarian parents often talk to their children without wanting input nor a response. They expect their children to behave perfectly and not make any mistakes, yet they offer little guidance on what their children should do or avoid in the future. This firm parenting style uses severe discipline. Mistakes have consequences and are often quite harsh, yet their children are often left wondering exactly what they did wrong.
Impact on child
Children who grow up with strict authoritarian parents tend to follow rules most of the time but may exhibit more behavioral problems than others. They may show an unhappy disposition, possess low self-esteem, and have poor social skills.
Permissive parents love to use the term “Kids will be kids.” and are quite very forgiving. They are very lenient, and often only intervene when a major problem occurs. These parents will mostly allow their kids to do what they want and offer limited guidance or direction. They prefer to avoid conflict and will often give in to their children’s requests at the first sign of distress.
Permissive parents are more likely to be more of a friend to their kids, rather than taking up a parenting role. They encourage talks with their children, but typically won’t put much attention or effort into discouraging poor choices or bad behavior. These parents mostly let their kids do what they want and offer limited guidance or direction.
Impact on child
Children with permissive parents dislike authority and may have a problem following rules later on. They may be self-centered and have poor self-control resulting in issues with relationships and social interactions.
They're also at a higher risk of having mental and health problems. They often have low self-esteem and may report a lot of unhapiness. Issues like obesity and eating disorders may also be present as permissive parents may struggle to control junk food intake.
Authoritative parents are reasonable, supportive, and nurturing. They have rules and use penalties, but they also recognize their child’s opinions, emotions, and needs. They acknowledge their child’s feelings while also establishing that adults are fundamentally in charge.
Parents using the authoritative style invest time and energy into preventing behavioral problems before they start. They might use positive disciplinary strategies and positive reinforcement, like praise and reward systems. In an authoritative style of parenting, the rules are clear and the reasons behind them are explained. Communication is always open and appropriate to the child’s level of understanding.
Impact on child
This style is thought to be the gold standard and is most beneficial to children. Children with parents who employ this parenting style tend to be more independent and self-disciplined. The kids are most likely to become responsible adults who have developed good self-esteem and feel comfortable expressing their opinions.
Children who grew up in authoritative discipline tend to be happier and more successful. They're also more likely to be good at making decisions and evaluating safety risks on their own. They generally have better emotional and physical health than other children. This means they're unlikely to be depressed, have no anxiety, and are not at risk of having any suicidal tendencies.
Also called neglectful parenting, uninvolved parenting has an overall sense of detachment, lack of concern, and disinterest. Uninvolved parents tend to have limited interaction with their children, and there's little knowledge of what their children are doing. Rules seem to be non-existent and children may not receive much guidance, nurturing, and parental attention.
Uninvolved parents may be negligent and can also be seen as cold and uncaring, but it’s not always intentional. Most of the time uninvolved parents are already struggling with their own problems and maybe simply overwhelmed with other issues, like work, paying bills, and managing a household. Parents with mental health issues or problems with substance abuse may also not be able to care for a child's physical or emotional needs consistently.
Impact on child
Children with uninvolved parents are likely to struggle with self-esteem issues and also exhibit frequent behavioral problems. Mental issues may show up and they are typically unhappy as they cannot self-regulate emotion. They are more impulsive and tend to perform poorly in school. These children display more delinquency and addictions problems.
Nobody really uses one style of parenting. This simple illustration can show you what combination of parenting styles you could be using. So where do you land on this graph? Do you lean towards being authoritative, or are you more towards being warm and accepting?
While there's evidence that a particular parenting style is linked to a certain pattern of behavior, inconsistencies, and exceptions in some areas remain. Studies in parenting styles are only correlations and not causations. This means that the parenting style is not automatically the cause of the child's behavior.
Some studies say that the authoritative style isn’t always linked to academic performance across families from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Cultural factors play a crucial role in parenting styles and child outcomes. Authoritative parenting, being consistently linked to positive outcomes in European American families, does not have better school performance results among African American or Asian American youngsters. In one study, researchers found that African-American students with authoritative parents but without peer support did not perform the best academically. Asian-American students, on the other hand, performed the best in school when they had authoritarian parents and peer support.
Other important variables such as a child's temperament is also a major factor in child behavior. It was also found that other reasons behind child behavior such as sociable and aggressive behaviors are better associated with the child’s temperament rather than with the parenting style of their parents.
In many cases, the expected child outcomes do not materialize. Authoritative parents may have children who are disobedient or who engage in delinquent behavior, while parents with permissive styles may also have children who are more self-confident and doing well academically.
Every parent-child relationship is unique and every situation is different, but chances are, your kind of parenting falls somewhere among Baumrind’s parenting styles. As a good rule of thumb, the authoritative style of parenting is the ideal type of parenting we must aspire to do. But we all know that it’s not that simple, and never that easy. There are other factors we must consider that could greatly affect our child’s behavior. We don’t exactly get to spend 24 hours a day with our kids, especially when they’re going to school 5 days a week.
Teachers and peers have a significant influence on our child’s conduct. And depending on how big the family is, other members of the family should also be included in the equation too. So we adjust depending on what kind of parent is needed by our child. We become flexible enough to be permissive on simple matters and authoritative, sometimes authoritarian, at difficult times.
We’re not always going to get the results we want no matter how hard we try. And stressing ourselves over things we can’t control can be bad. Take a moment to relax. Give yourselves some time to breathe for your own well-being. We can’t help our kids if we can’t even take care of ourselves.