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Parenting Styles – What-s Your Style?

Parenting stylesAll humans are unique and all parents have their own approach to parenting. In the early 1960s, a psychologist, Diana Baumrind, began a study on more than 100 preschool-age children.
The study involved naturalistic observation, parental interviews as well as various other research methods.



Dr. Baumrind was able to identify four major dimensions of parenting. The dimensions were labelled as follows:

  • Disciplinary strategies
  • Warmth and nurturance
  • Communication styles
  • Expectations of maturity and control

Using these dimensions, Dr. Baumrind discovered that they formed the basis for three fundamental parenting styles and it was suggested that the majority of parents fell into at least one of the three styles. After further research a fourth style was added. The four fundamental parenting styles are:


Authoritarian Parenting

As the name suggest, parents who are authoritarians expect their children to follow a set of strict rules. Usually failure to follow the set out rules results in punishment. In many cases, a strict or an authoritarian parent fails to explain the reason for rules. In response to a request for explanation, a common reply by the parent may be, “Because I said so!” This type of parenting style expects high demands, but parents are unresponsive to their children’s needs. According to Dr. Baumrind, these parents “are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation”


Authoritative Parenting

As with authoritarian parents, parents with an authoritative parenting style do establish rules and guidelines and they do expect their children to follow them. The difference with this parenting style is that it is a lot more autonomous and parents are far more democratic. Unlike authoritarian, authoritative parents are responsive to their children’s needs and they are more willing to listen to questions and engage in conversation.

When the child of an authoritative parent fails to meet their expectations or breaks the rules, these parents tend to be more nurturing and more forgiving. Punishment is usually lenient but exists which means that these parents teach kids that every action has a consequence! Baumrind stated 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 disciplinary. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative”


Permissive Parenting

Another term that is used to describe permissive parents is indulgent parents. With this type of parenting style, parents make little or no demands of their children. Permissive parents seldom discipline their children and due to this fact kids of permissive parents tend to have low expectations of maturity and self-control. Baumrind had this to say of permissive parents “are more responsive than they are demanding. Permissive parents are seen as being non-traditional and lenient, and do not demand mature behaviour, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation”. It is common for permissive parents to see themselves as being their child’s friend or peer rather than a parental figure. Permissive parents are good at nurturing and communicating with their children, but fail to guide their children or prepare them for the real world.


Uninvolved Parenting

Uninvolved parenting is categorised as having few demands, low responsiveness and little communication. These parents are able to meet or fulfil the child’s basic needs and provide food, shelter, etc. but they are seen as being generally detached from their child’s life. In extreme cases of uninvolved parenting, parents may reject or neglect the needs of their children. These parents see themselves only as caregivers and will ensure that their children are fed, clean and clothed but they are emotionally removed or detached from the child’s life.


How parenting styles affect children?

The purpose of the study conducted by Dr. Baumrind was to determine how children were affected by the different parenting styles. In addition to the study conducted on the 100 preschool children, further research and studies were done and it was found that children are affected in much the same way when raised within the confines of the different parenting styles.

  • Authoritarian parenting styles result in children who are very obedient and disciplined but it was found that kids who are raised in an authoritarian environment rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.
  • An authoritative parenting style tends to lead to children who are far happier and content, capable and generally more successful.
  • Permissive parenting typically leads to children who are unhappy and struggle with self-regulation. Children who are parented by indulgent or permissive parents are a lot more likely to defy authority and because they cannot conform to rules they often perform poorly in school.
  • Uninvolved parenting styles have shown to have the biggest impact on children. Children battle with self-control issues, have a diminished self-esteem and are generally far less competent than their peers.


What causes parenting styles to differ?

If life was simple and easy and parents were given a parenting handbook the moment they gave birth to a child – all parents would undoubtedly choose to be authoritative parents. Considering the fact that this parenting style offers the best benefits and that this style will produce children who are happy, confident and capable, it makes sense to choose authoritative parenting. However there are several aspects that have a direct impact on parenting styles, and the most common causes that result in parenting style difference include culture, personality, family size, parental background, socioeconomic status, educational level and religion.

In addition to the factors which impact parenting styles, most parents have varied views on parenting. A mother, for instance, may prefer or favour strict and demanding parenting whereas a father may prefer a more authoritative approach to parenting. For parents to have a unified approach to parenting, both parents must learn to cooperate and combine the positive elements of their own parenting styles.

After Dr. Baumrind’s intensive research into the different parenting styles in the 1960s, many other psychologists continued with the study. This resulted in other parenting styles being discovered – all of which generally fell into the four major categories and were seen as sub-categories of the fundamental styles. Some of the sub-categories include:

  • Emotion coaching – Parenting is loving and nurturing and the hope is to raise happy, well-adjusted, well-behaved children. It’s called emotion coaching and it feels good for both parents and kids alike. Emotion coaching allows the child to recognize how they are feeling and how to express their feelings.
  • Attachment parenting – parents look to create a strong emotional bond, and avoids using physical punishment as discipline but looks at the child’s emotional needs while focusing on understanding a child and the child’s behaviour.
  • Overparenting – These parents try to become involved in every aspect of their child’s life, and often try to solve all their problems. These parents are often referred to as -helicopter parents as they are continually hovering and they pay close attention to their children’s experiences and problems. A common trait of overparenting is to remove obstacles out of their kid’s paths, particularly at school. This is a form of indulgent parenting!
  • Slow parenting – Here parents organise less for their children, allowing kids to enjoy the freedom of their childhood and explore the world and their surrounds at their own pace.


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