It should come as no surprise that your style of parenting has an enormous effect on the way your child behaves, their self-esteem, and the kind of life they will lead. Through her research, Diana Baumrind identified three parenting styles, which were later extended to four by Maccaboy and Martin. This research has been ongoing since the ’60s, and others in the field have continued to explore Baumrind’s findings. Each parenting style has associated outcomes for a child’s life, both positive and negative. This is useful information. If you have insight into your own way of parenting, you can adjust as necessary to develop happier, successful, and self-assured children.
𝐷𝑒𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑏𝑢𝑡 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑝𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒
Parents with this style are disciplinarians who leave very little room for negotiation. They have high expectations of their children, are not very nurturing, and don’t take their children’s feelings into consideration. They control behaviour by threatening, shaming, and withdrawing love and affection. Spanking and shouting are also likely forms of punishment, and their children are well behaved out of fear. They expect blind obedience without providing an explanation for their rules and live by the mantra “because I said so.”
In the possible cases where this style is “well-intentioned,” its objective is to prepare children for the realities of a harsh and unforgiving world. However, research indicates this style has several unhealthy and negative outcomes.
𝙏𝙝𝙚 𝙚𝙛𝙛𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙨 𝙤𝙛 𝙖𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙖𝙧𝙞𝙖𝙣 𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙤𝙣 𝙘𝙝𝙞𝙡𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙣:
Children of this parenting style tend to have an unhappy disposition and a “follower” mentality (since they have been conditioned to be obedient and follow authority throughout their childhood). They are less responsible and have trouble with making independent decisions. They tend to suffer more from low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression and seek external validation and approval from authority figures.
𝐷𝑒𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑝𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒/𝑤𝑎𝑟𝑚
Although the name is similar to authoritarian parenting, there are marked differences and outcomes of this approach.
Considered the optimum style, these parents have high expectations for their children but are nevertheless warm and responsive. Although parents of this style have rules, boundaries, and consequences, the reasons behind rules are explained, and they take their children’s feelings into consideration. They tend to be more forgiving without being push-overs – this is not to say they let children get away with bad behaviour. If a child misbehaves or fails to meet their expectations, these parents will talk to them about it; listening to their child’s concerns and will help them understand why what they did was wrong. In fact, research has found that using reasoning and discussion is the common thread between various kinds of authoritative parents across four countries, Australia, China, Russia, and the USA (1). This approach has the effect of creating a safe space for children to express autonomy and explore ideas without fear of unreasonable or severe punishment.
Authoritative parents avoid threats and punishment if they can, preferring to encourage good behaviour and cooperation by positive reinforcement. They take a healthy interest in their children’s lives, often talking to them and spending time with them.
𝘾𝙝𝙞𝙡𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝙖𝙪𝙩𝙝𝙤𝙧𝙞𝙩𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙨:
Children of this style tend to be more happy, self-reliant, and independent. They suffer less from anxiety, depression, and are less likely to engage in anti-social behaviour like drug abuse. They have higher academic success and good self-esteem. Since they are raised in an environment that provides the freedom to explore and problem-solve independently, these children have the confidence to overcome obstacles on their own. There is evidence that children of authoritative parents are more influenced by their parent’s opinions than their peers when making decisions. (2)
𝑁𝑜𝑡 𝑑𝑒𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑖𝑠 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑝𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑠/𝑤𝑎𝑟𝑚.
Also known as indulgent parenting, permissive parents set very few boundaries and limits. They are warm and caring but are not good at enforcing rules and saying no. As parents, they are more like friends than authority figures or leaders. Although they are emotionally present and compassionate, they aren’t good at enforcing good choices and behaviour. They demand very little from their children, having vague and low expectations of maturity and self-control. There is often no routine or structure, and discipline is rare.
𝘾𝙝𝙞𝙡𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙢𝙞𝙨𝙨𝙞𝙫𝙚 𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙨:
These children tend to have poor emotional self-regulation, are less disciplined and more entitled. They are impulsive and more likely to engage in unhealthy habits like over-eating and excessive TV watching. They are prone to delinquency and substance abuse. They have increased levels of aggression. When faced with challenges, they give up easily. These children may develop anxiety disorders from growing up in an environment that had no leadership and control.
So, although permissive parents are warm and responsive (which is a good thing), their inability to set limits is problematic.
𝑁𝑜𝑡 𝑟𝑒𝑠𝑝𝑜𝑛𝑠𝑖𝑣𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑛𝑜𝑡 𝑑𝑒𝑚𝑎𝑛𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔
This kind of parent shows little to no interest in their child’s life and welfare. These parents are absent from most of their child’s activities and may intentionally avoid their presence. If they are present in the body, they are not present in mind, giving their child no attention. They’re likely to miss teacher-parent meetings and school events. They provide no guidance, enforce few to no rules, and fail to display any affection. They are not involved in their children’s lives and practically expect them to raise themselves. Like all forms of parenting, this style comes in varying degrees. Some parents may be relatively hands-off and give little attention but will still enforce a handful of rules like going to school and going to bed. In its most extreme form, there is complete neglect.
𝘾𝙝𝙞𝙡𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙣 𝙤𝙛 𝙣𝙚𝙜𝙡𝙚𝙘𝙩𝙛𝙪𝙡 𝙥𝙖𝙧𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙨:
Children of this kind of parent are more likely to have low self-worth and low self-esteem. Neglect can lead to children having depression and other mood disorders. Studies show that neglected children are the least adjusted and tend to have poorer emotional skills and face a range of social difficulties from being socially anxious, behaving inappropriately, and may become socially withdrawn. There is also an increased chance of delinquent behaviour. They are more likely to experience lower academic performance and have little motivation to succeed. Neglected children are more vulnerable to substance abuse and being unhappy.
There are various reasons for neglectful parenting. It could be due to a lack of education about parenting; lifestyle e.g., having an occupation that leaves no time for anyone else; mental health problems – e.g., a parent might suffer from severe depression. This style might also stem from the parent being neglected themselves as a child, and they now may not feel the need to connect to their own children.
𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗺𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝗯𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗰𝗲𝗱 𝗮𝗽𝗽𝗿𝗼𝗮𝗰𝗵
Of all the styles, authoritative parenting is associated with the most favourable outcomes. As we have seen, the other forms can lead to several undesirable results, so it is worth utilising the authoritative approach typified by the balance of love and structure. This way, you can maximise the potential for your child to have a successful and happy life. It also means you’ll decrease the likelihood of dealing with troubling issues throughout your parenting years.
𝘐𝘵 𝘪𝘴 𝘸𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘩 𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘴𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘺𝘭𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘵𝘺𝘱𝘦𝘴. 𝘈 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘤𝘢𝘯 𝘦𝘹𝘩𝘪𝘣𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘪𝘵𝘴 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘮𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘯 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘴𝘵𝘺𝘭𝘦, 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘢 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥’𝘴 𝘰𝘶𝘵𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘮𝘢𝘺 𝘯𝘰𝘵 𝘦𝘹𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘭𝘺 𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘤𝘩 𝘉𝘢𝘶𝘮𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘥’𝘴 𝘮𝘰𝘥𝘦𝘭. 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘴𝘢𝘪𝘥, 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘥𝘦𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘮𝘪𝘯𝘦 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘶𝘭𝘢𝘳 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵’𝘴 𝘴𝘵𝘺𝘭𝘦 𝘣𝘺 𝘭𝘰𝘰𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘪𝘳 𝘰𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘦 𝘥𝘶𝘳𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘵𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘰𝘣𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘷𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯. 𝘐𝘧, 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘦𝘹𝘢𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦, 𝘢 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘴 𝘭𝘰𝘸 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘱𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴/𝘸𝘢𝘳𝘮𝘵𝘩 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘩𝘪𝘨𝘩 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘥𝘦𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘥𝘪𝘯𝘨𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴/𝘤𝘰𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘭, 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦 𝘤𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘴 𝘢𝘶𝘵𝘩𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘵𝘢𝘳𝘪𝘢𝘯. 𝘛𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘥𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘣𝘶𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯 𝘰𝘧 𝘴𝘤𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘪𝘳𝘦 𝘴𝘢𝘮𝘱𝘭𝘦 𝘴𝘦𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘴.
(1) Robinson CC, Hart CH, Mandleco BL, and Olsen SF. 1996. Psychometric support for a new measure of authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive parenting practices: Cross-cultural connections. Paper presented in Symposium: New measures of parental child-rearing methods developed in different cultural contexts, XIVth Biennial International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development Conference, Quebec City, Canada, August 12-16, 1996.
(2) Bednar DE and Fisher TD. 2003. Peer referencing in adolescent decision making as a function of perceived parenting style. Adolescence. 38(152):607-21.