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What is Your Parenting Style?

By Staff
Read Time: 8 Minutes

You have your own fashion style, work style, even play style. And you may not realize it, but you have your own parenting style, too. A parenting style is the way you talk to and act toward your child. It’s what you let him (or her) do and not do. When it comes to the relationship you have with your child, your parenting style matters. It can make a big difference in his development and confidence.

Child psychologists say that a parenting style shapes how a child will act as an adult. That’s why being aware of and maybe even making changes to your parenting style is important. Remember, positive parenting doesn’t mean perfect parenting! It’s about doing your best to meet your child’s needs and making his well-being a priority.

Your parenting style will depend on what works for you and your child.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Different things influence how parents raise their children. Some raise their kids the way they were raised, and others do their own thing. A parent’s age, gender, education, values, and personality can also affect their parenting style. Other things like financial or family problems can affect how parents might act. Whichever parenting style you use, keep in mind your child’s age, needs, and personality.

Good to Know

Not all parents use the same parenting style in every situation. Remember that your parenting style may change depending on the situation and the child.

Four Parenting Styles and Their Differences

Understanding the different parenting styles and which one you use can be helpful. Parents are all different, but most have one thing in common—they want to have a good relationship with their children. Learn about these styles and how you can use positive parenting to build a strong bond.

1. Authoritative Parenting: Supportive, Loving, and Firm

Parents who have an authoritative parenting style show their children affection and respect. These parents praise good behavior and firmly enforce reasonable rules and limits. Authoritative moms and dads make their expectations very clear and set rules their kids can easily understand. They listen to their kids and give them a chance to share their feelings and talk about their needs. Then they decide how to respond.

Authoritative parents nurture and support their kids. They have open and honest talks with them. They believe this teaches their kids how to make good decisions. Most children with authoritative parents grow to be self-disciplined and can think for themselves.

One style of authoritative parenting is called attachment parenting. It focuses on building a strong connection between a parent and the child so the child always feels secure and loved. Attachment parents want to be physically close to their babies as much as possible. As the child grows, parents focus on his emotional needs and helping him become self-confident and independent. Attachment parenting is intended to make children feel loved and secure since they always have their parents’ attention.

Authoritative Parenting Style Pros:

  • Develops a positive parent/child relationship.
  • Creates a safe and supportive home for kids by balancing rules with love and care.
  • Builds a child’s self-confidence and independence.

Authoritative Parenting Style Cons:

  • Parents may neglect their own needs because they are totally focused on their child and put the child’s needs over their own.
An authoritative parenting style develops a strong parent/child bond.

2. Permissive Parenting: Just Say Yes

Permissive parents are long on love and short on rules. They give their kids a lot of freedom. Permissive moms and dads are very open about most things that involve their children. When it comes to bedtime, food, chores, screen time, and other responsibilities they quickly give in and let kids have their own way. Permissive parents are less likely to discipline their children when they misbehave.

Free-range parenting—letting kids have free rein like a chicken let out of a cage—is a type of permissive parenting style. Free-range moms and dads believe the best way to raise children is to let their kids take risks, make their own decisions, and learn from their mistakes. They give their kids a lot of freedom so they can learn how to solve problems on their own. The goal is to help children be confident and able to take care of themselves. But kids who are left alone are also at risk of getting hurt or into trouble when they don’t understand what they should or shouldn’t do.

Permissive Parenting Pros:

  • Creates a close and supportive parent-child relationship.
  • Encourages a child’s creativity and independence.
  • Allows children to learn from their experiences and mistakes.

Permissive Parenting Cons:

  • Possible self-control issues due to lack of rules and structure.
  • Behavior problems due to lack of discipline.
  • Lack of respect for authority or following rules outside of the home.
  • Feel entitled.
A permissive parenting style encourages a child’s creativity.

3. Authoritarian Parenting: Tough Love

Authoritarian parents are big believers in strict rules and discipline. These parents want their kids to do what they say and obey the rules. If the kids don’t, they get punished. If a child wants to know why he is supposed to act a certain way, the authoritarian parent might say “because I said so.” Authoritarian moms and dads believe they know what’s best for their kids and want to control their behavior. As a result, they may not listen to their children’s ideas and are less likely to teach their kids how to solve problems and handle their emotions. They want their kids to do things their way. They may stay extremely involved in their children’s social life or school activities to make sure of it.

Helicopter parenting is a form of the authoritarian parenting style. Moms and dads who are very involved with and overprotective of their kids are often called helicopter parents because, like a helicopter, they hover over everything their child does. They may pick their child’s friends or do their homework so that it’s done right. Authoritarian parents jump in to solve whatever issue their child may be having, which means he may have a hard time becoming independent. Kids may feel their parents are protecting them but may end up lacking confidence as they get older.

Authoritarian Parenting Pros:

  • Provides kids structure and discipline.
  • Sets boundaries and clear expectations.
  • Less likely to engage in risky behavior to avoid being punished.

Authoritarian Parenting Cons:

  • Kids may feel fearful and misunderstood.
  • Can lead to low self-esteem since the child may not learn how to solve problems and make decisions on his own.
  • Can cause kids to push back on authority.
  • If they feel bullied, kids may become bullies themselves.
An authoritarian parent likes to solve a child’s problems.

4. Uninvolved/Neglectful Parenting: Missing in Action

Uninvolved parents don’t show interest in their child’s emotional or physical needs. They don’t care for or supervise the child. Uninvolved parents don’t engage with their kids or show them any attention or affection. Often kids who have this type of parent don’t have basics such as food, education, safe housing, and health care. Children with uninvolved parents must take care of themselves. Being neglected and ignored makes kids more likely to suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and other mental health issues. Since they don’t have clear rules or a parent guiding them, these kids struggle with self-control and may have trouble following rules at school. Having an uninvolved parent can make a child have trust issues and unable to have healthy relationships as an adult.

If you feel you might be an uninvolved parent and need help, call the Texas Parent Helpline. We are here to listen and not judge. It is never too late to get help and find ways to make parenting a little easier. You can call, chat, or text the Texas Parent Helpline to ask questions, talk about problems, and get resources. The Texas Parent Helpline is free and here for you 24/7.

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Which Parenting Style Is Best?

Many child psychologists believe that the authoritative parenting style is best because of its positive parenting approach. This parenting style nurtures the child and the parent-child relationship. It teaches the power and importance of respect and love. Positive parenting can go a long way in raising confident, healthy, and happy children. A positive parent-child relationship starts as early as birth and can continue through adulthood.

Many psychologists believe  the authoritative parenting style is the best.

Parenting Styles in Action

Sara: Pushing Limits at Bedtime.

Sara is 5 years old. Her bedtime is 8 p.m. but she wants to stay up way past her bedtime.

  • An authoritative parent reminds Sara how important sleep is to be healthy and feel good the next day. Mom asks Sara to pick out her favorite book to read before bed.
  • A permissive parent lets Sara stay up later.
  • An authoritarian parent strictly enforces the 8 p.m. bedtime and threatens to punish Sara if she doesn’t get in bed and stay there.
  • An uninvolved parent won’t have a regular bedtime routine. Sara goes to bed whenever she wants.

Jacob: Picks Puppy Time Over Homework.

Ten-year-old Jacob is in the 4th grade. He is supposed to do his homework when he gets home from school, but he would rather play with his new puppy, Max.

  • An authoritative parent knows how much fun a new puppy and gives Jacob an extra 15 or 20 minutes to play with Max before he gets started on his homework. She follows up to make sure Jacob is doing his homework as agreed. Jacob gets a high five for working on his homework after puppy time.
  • A permissive parent lets Jacob play with Max as long as he wants. Jacob has to figure out how to get his homework done before he goes to bed.
  • An authoritarian parent warns Jacob if he doesn’t start doing his homework right after school he’ll be grounded, or he won’t be able to play with Max for the rest of the day.
  • An uninvolved parent doesn’t pay any attention to what Jacob does after school. His parents won’t know if he does his homework or not.

Oliver: Wants More Video Game Time.

Oliver is 12 and loves to play video games. He gets to play one hour each day but wants more screen time.

  • An authoritative parent talks to Oliver about why he wants more screen time and why he thinks he should get it. Dad tells Oliver he will give him an extra 15 minutes a day if he continues to do well in school. Oliver and Dad agree to a trial period for the next two weeks.
  • A permissive parent lets Oliver decide how much screen time he can handle and still keep up with his schoolwork. 
  • An authoritarian parent won’t listen to why Oliver thinks he should have more screen time. If Oliver argues about it, he won’t get to play any games that day.
  • An uninvolved parent doesn’t notice or care how much time Oliver spends playing video games.

Positive Parenting

Each of the four parenting styles is different and knowing how they vary will help you understand their pros and cons. Remember that your parenting style may change depending on the situation. During really stressful times, you may be an authoritarian parent. On other days you may use the authoritative parenting style. The goal is to be as consistent and positive as possible so your kids can grow up confident, happy, and healthy!

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This article was written by staff.

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