There are Four Parenting Styles – Which Style Do You Use?

Generally speaking there are four types of parenting styles. They are authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. Parents may not fit completely into just one of these styles, but could have some over lap. Regardless of where you may fall with your parenting it is important to understand what these styles are and their effect on children.

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Authoritarian Parenting

A parent with an authoritarian style is demanding but not responsive.

  • Demanding: Restrictions, punishment-heavy parents who have expectations that children follow their directions with no explanations is an example of a demanding parent.
  • Non-Responsive: A parent who does not consider a child’s behavioral circumstances, feelings, or only wants a child to be seen and not heard is an example of a non-responsive parent.

A common phrase used by authoritarian parents, “because I said so,” is a succinct example of having high demands and no responsiveness.

The “because I said so,” mentality is not a problem solving approach, but rather a strict focus on obedience. This removes a child from learning how to problem-solve life’s challenges and instead teaches them to conform to rules regardless of their opinions.

A symptoms of authoritarian parenting in both parents and children are:


  • Spanking
  • Shouting
  • Believing kids should only be seen and not heard
  • Having a “my way or the highway” mind set
  • Not considering your children’s thoughts and feelings


  • Conformist
  • Quit
  • Very obedient
  • Not happy

Advocates of this style feel they are well intentioned and believe that if a child can learn to handle spankings and shouting from parents then they will have learned to deal with the harsh realities of life.

Consequences of Authoritarian Parenting

Less Social Competence: Children who grow up with this parenting style tend to be less socially competent as parental supervision declines into their late teens to young adulthood years. This is the price that is paid for having conforming-obedient children in their formative years. Children then lack the ability to problem-solve when faced with hard challenges later on in life.

Low Self-Esteem: A child who is taught to conform for obediences’s sake is a child who feels like their opinions do not matter. A child’s snuffed out opinions teaches them that their voice is not important and that they should not even try to share what they think.

Depression: The lack of self-esteem and feeling socially incompetent can lead to mental health issue.

Rebellion: A child who can develop self-confidence despite being raised by an authoritarian parent may become angry or resentful of their authoritarian up bringing. As a result they could rebel against their parent’s values in adolescence or as a young adult.

Escapist Behaviors: Examples of this are substance abuse and suicide. These behaviors are correlated with wanting to escape from anger and resentment because of the inability to problem-solve and achieve goals.

Authoritative Parenting

A parent with an authoritative style is demanding, but also is responsive.

Demanding: parents that have high expectations and set rules to guide their children’s decision making.

Responsive: parents that have a high degree of warmth and nurturing where children’s thoughts, opinions, and feelings are taken into consideration.

An example of an authoritative parenting is someone who says, “let’s talk about it,” when their child may be disobedient or may have a challenge they are dealing with.

The “let’s talk about it” mentality is a responsive mentality. Being responsive is the difference between the authoritarian and authoritative styles. This responsive mentality is a mind set that considers a child’s opinions and feelings. Then teaches them to regulate those feelings if needed.

A common element for authoritative parents is to allow children to make their own decisions while coaching them about the consequences. Often times parents who use this style don’t just dole out punishments, but explore with their children the consequences of their actions. This allows children to see the behavior as it is and how it is connected to natural consequences as opposed to made up consequences (punishments).

Characteristics of authoritative parenting in both parents and children are:


  • High expectations (Demanding)
  • Warm and Nurturing (Responsive)
  • Gives explanations for punishments and consequences
  • Gives children a level autonomy to make choices


  • Happy
  • Successful
  • Well liked by peers
  • Self-determined
  • More likely to make good decision later on in life

Why Authoritative Parenting Works

Authoritative parenting takes a lot of effort, but research shows that it pays off in terms of children growing up become happy and well-adjusted adults. Here are some of the benefits for kids who are raised with this style of parenting:

  • They are more likely to resist peer pressure.
  • They are more likely to get along with peers and teachers (fewer social problems).
  • They tend to have secure attachments and strong relationships with their parents.
  • They show characteristics of being more empathetic, kind and warm.
  • They tend to be respectful towards, adults, other people, and rules.
  • They are more likely to become responsible adults.
  • They are able to regulate themselves.
  • They learn to make decisions on their own.


Permissive Parenting

A permissive parent is not demanding, but is responsive

Responsive: Parents are so responsive that the parent uses indulgence in order to make their children happy.

Not Demanding: Parents who do not have expectations of their children to regulate emotions or to behave appropriately.

A common attitude of permissive parents is “kids will be kids,” or for the parent to take on a friendship role rather than a parenting role with their children. this is a “let’s be friends” mind set.

This kind of mentality is an indulgent mentality that lacks the balance of expectations and rules (demands). This loss of balance is more likely to create behaviors in children and adolescence that puts indulgence (pleasure and fun) above being disciplined.

A child with a permissive parent may struggle with obesity since this style of parenting has a hard time limiting junk food consumption. Cavities may also be an issues because permissive parents do not enforce good health habits such as brushing your teeth.

Characteristics of permissive parenting in both parents and children:


  • Over indulgent.
  • Little to no expectations regarding behavior.
  • A friend-first approach over a parenting-first approach.
  • “Kids will be kids” mentality.


  • Academic problems.
  • A disrespect for authority and rules.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Health issues (obesity, cavities).

The Results of Permissive Parenting

Research suggests that children of permissive parents are three times more likely to participate in underage drinking as teens. These children also struggle to regulate their emotions and feel that they should always get their way.

In addition to this, children raised with this parenting style:

  • Show low achievement in many areas.
  • Make poor decisions.
  • Display aggressive behavior along with less emotional understanding.
  • Are prone to delinquency and substance abuse.
  • Not capable to managing their time or habits.


Related blog post: Are You an Over-Indulgent Parent?

Uninvolved Parenting

Uninvolved Parenting is neither demanding nor responsive.

Not Responsive: Parents who are neglectful of their children’s needs.

Not Demanding: Parents who have little to no expectations for their children’s behavior.

A common mind set for this parenting style is to think or say to your children, “your on your own.”

This means that parents expect children to raise themselves. They don’t give much time or energy to meeting the basic needs of their children.

This type of parenting style is not always intentional. A parent who has mental health struggles or substance abuse problems may not be able to care for their children’s physical and emotional needs.

Sometime uninvolved parents lack the knowledge about child development. In other cases, some parents may just be overwhelmed with other problems, such as managing a household and paying the bills.

Common characteristics of uninvolved parents in both parents and children:


  • Poverty
  • Overwhelmed
  • Substance abuse
  • Mental health issues


  • Self-esteem issues.
  • Poor academic performance.
  • Frequent behavior problems.
  • Unhappy

The Effects of Uninvolved Parenting on Children

Due to the lack of responsiveness from parents, children raised in an uninvolved household are more likely to find it difficult to form attachments latter in life. Additional outcomes for children of uninvolved parents are:

  • Increased risk of substance abuse.
  • More delinquency during adolescence.
  • Feelings of fear, anxiety, or stress because of the lack of parent support.
  • Emotionally withdrawn.
  • Fear of becoming dependent on other people.
  • Learn to provide for themselves.

Thoughts from Parenting At Home

As a parent it is impossible to fit exactly into one of these parenting styles and that’s okay. At times you may be more of an authoritarian parent and at other times you may may mirror an authoritative style. Your overall parenting may also overlap parenting styles and not necessarily into a specific style and that’s okay too.

What’s important is to recognize what type of parenting style you employee and to know how that style effects your children. Knowing this gives you the power to make the needed changes to become a better parent for your children. This in turn will effect what types of people your children will grow up to be and that’s what parenting is all about.

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