Which Parenting Style is Best?

parenting Mar 29, 2021
Which Parenting Style is Best

Parenthood is a wild roller coaster ride of joy and excitement, sprinkled with worry and stress. One moment you’re cradling a newborn, and the next, you’re trying to keep pace with the infinite energy of a toddler and their newfound love for the word “no.”

There’s a considerable shift in the parental landscape as you transition from caring for a newborn to teaching and guiding your toddler to be a good, well-mannered person. The parenting style you use will play a significant role in shaping your child’s personality, outlook in life, and entire childhood experience in general.

Today, we’ll be taking a look at four major parenting styles and the effects they can have on children. This information will hopefully help you decide on which approach to take with your own kid.

What Exactly Are Parenting Styles?

Parenting style refers to a set of beliefs and behaviors that parents use to raise their children. Individual parenting styles are often developed based on your parents’ own approach with you, cultural norms, personal experiences, and societal expectations.

Renowned clinical and behavioral psychologist Diana Baumrind introduced the concept of parenting styles in the 1960s. In her cornerstone “Pillar Theory,” she identified three main components — warmth, control, and structure — as the pillars that support effective parenting. Some parents may rely on one pillar more than others or use a combination of all three to shape their child’s upbringing.

The Four Major Parenting Styles

Baumrind identified three parenting styles based on these three components or pillars. Meanwhile, the fourth — the neglectful parenting style — was identified in the 1980s by psychologists Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin.

Today, the four major parenting styles are:

  • Authoritarian
  • Permissive
  • Authoritative
  • Uninvolved or neglectful

Each style has its own combination of warmth, control, and structure. Below is a deeper dive into each one.

Uninvolved or Neglectful Parenting Style

Let’s start with the newest one, which is objectively also the worst one in the list — the uninvolved or neglectful parenting style. As the name suggests, this approach involves a lack of parental involvement in a child’s life. It scores a zero on all three pillars — lacking warmth, structure, and control.

Uninvolved parents do not offer affection, do not set rules or boundaries, and do not involve themselves in their child’s activities or life in general. The parents basically detached themselves from their child’s development, leaving them to fend for themselves.

At most, they’ll provide maybe their kid’s basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing. However, they neglect the rest of their children’s physical, emotional, or psychological needs. As a result, children who grow up exposed to this type of parenting find it difficult to trust others, deal with other children, or form healthy or meaningful relationships. 

Authoritarian Parenting

Parents who adopt an authoritarian parenting style are highly demanding and controlling, but not particularly warm. They see themselves as the ultimate authority in their child’s life and set high expectations. They enforce strict rules and expect their children to follow them without question.

Here’s the catch, though; they don’t necessarily discuss or explain the rules. Their children are “just supposed” to know and understand these rules. You’d often hear the phrases “Because I said so,” or “Because I’m the parent,” used by authoritarian parents.

The pros of this parenting style is that you may get an obedient, well-behaved, and rule-abiding kid. The cons is that they will most likely grow up less happier than their peers, have lower self-esteem, and lower social competence.

This type of parenting style is common among a lot of dads, who often believe in strictness and discipline or feel the need to be in control of any situation.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parents can be summed up in one word: indulgent. Parents who use this lenient parenting style are loving but generally lack the ability to enforce rules or boundaries.

They often want to be seen as their children’s best friends rather than a strict parental figure. As a result, they avoid confrontation and often do not monitor or guide their kids. They also tend to use gifts or bribes as rewards.

As a result, children of permissive parents tend to grow up in a warm, fun, and friendly environment. However, since their parents didn’t regulate their behavior, they find self-regulation or self-discipline difficult when they become adults. They often develop problems with authority, perform poorly in school, and become more susceptible to substance abuse problems.

Ironically, these children who grew up in such loving and fun environments tend to report low levels of happiness.

Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting is often considered the most balanced and effective parenting style. It basically checks all three of Baumrind’s three pillars — displaying equal measures of warmth, control, and structure.

It involves setting high expectations for children while also being responsive and open to communication. Think of it as a mix of authoritarian and permissive. As an authoritative parent, you set high standards, set limits, and enforce boundaries, while also ensuring a loving environment and healthy, empathetic parent-child relationship.

This means you listen to your child, take their feelings and emotions into consideration, and promote cooperation. As a result, children grow up happier, more capable, more independent, and well-rounded. They tend to do well in school, develop good social skills, and are less likely to suffer anxiety or depression.

Positive discipline techniques and the teachings of Dad University fall under this style of parenting.

Finding a Parenting Style That Works for You

Essentially, the four major parenting styles are kind of like Goldilocks and the three bears’ beds — at least, if you take out the obvious bad option that is neglectful parenting. One is too hard, the next is too soft, but the last one is just right.

Every parent has a different approach to parenting their child. Finding a style that resonates with you and your values and fosters your child’s growth is crucial.

Just take note that nothing is absolute or guaranteed, even if you do use the recommended authoritative parenting style. Other factors such as your child’s temperament, your culture, or surrounding social influences will all affect how your child grows up to be.

Watch the "Which Parenting Style is Best?" video here:

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