Four different styles of parenting and their effects on children
Hillsborough Community College
FOUR DIFFERENT STYLES OF PARENTING 2 Four different styles of parenting and their effects on children
The correlation between parenting styles and child development has always interested me and therefore is the reason why I chose to write about it. A parenting style can be defined as a psychological construct representing standard strategies that parents use in their child rearing. During the 1960’s, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study in which she used naturalistic observation, parental interviews, and other research methods to study over 100 preschool-aged children. It was from this study that she determined three different types of parenting based on two aspects of parenting behavior: control and warmth. Parental control can be described as the amount of supervision parents exercise, the decisions parents make about their children’s activities and friends, and the rules parents give to their children (Amato 1990). Amato has also characterized parental warmth as the expression of interest in children’s activities and friends, expression of praise and encouragement for their children’s accomplishments, and the demonstration of love and affection. The three different styles of parenting that Baumrind identified were authoritarian parenting, authoritative parenting, and permissive parenting. Further research also added a fourth type of parenting called uninvolved parenting.
One of the main parenting styles defined by Baumrind was the authoritarian parenting style. In this specific form of parenting, parents are very strict with the rules they give their children and expect these rules to be followed unconditionally. Basically, obedience to the strict rules equates to love. These parents hold high expectations of their kids. They demand obedience and status within their children’s lives and are very FOUR DIFFERENT STYLES OF PARENTING 3
demanding, yet unresponsive. Authoritarian parents tend to want to have complete and total control over their families. It can also sometimes be referred to as military style of parenting. Authoritarian parenting expects kids to accept parent’s judgments, values, and opinions without any questioning. As in, “you do what I say because I said so.” So what are the effects of an authoritarian parenting style on a child? Children raised in an authoritarian style household tend to have lower self-esteem, lower self-discipline, and an unequal regard for other humans. These kids are known to have bad judgment of character, poor social skills, and often this parenting style leads to rebellious acts by the kid. Because of the parent’s rules, children of authoritarian parents often are forced to associate obedience and success with love. Since these types of parents demand absolute obedience, their children are often very good at following rules. However, they tend to not be self-disciplined. These children are not encouraged by their parents to explore and act independently, which in turn results in the kids never really learning how to set their own limits and standards. Consequently, another style of parenting that was identified in the 1960’s was the authoritative style of parenting. Parents following this specific parenting style are all about setting limits, reasoning with their kids, and being responsive to their emotional needs. As you can see, it takes a little from the authoritarian style by setting limits, but in actuality is the complete opposite because it involves the unconditional love and nurturing that kids need. The most successful child outcomes are usually linked to an authoritative style of parenting. When looking at characteristics of kids raised this way, they tend to be more FOUR DIFFERENT STYLES OF PARENTING 4
independent, self-reliant, socially accepted, well behaved, and academically successful. These parents do in fact set high standards for their children, but are also responsive and nurturing. They show respect for their children as independent and rational human beings. Authoritative parenting usually leads to kids being mature and cooperative, with parents offering a lot of emotional support. Whenever these types of parents exhibit good emotional understanding, it allows the child to learn how to manage their own emotions while also learning to understand others as well. Because authoritative parenting encourages children to act more independently, it teaches kids that they are capable of accomplishing things by themselves, which leads to a strong self-esteem and self-confidence.
Moving to a completely different style of parenting then mentioned above, permissive parenting can often be referred to as indulgent parenting. These types of parents make relatively few demands of their children. They have low expectations for self-control and maturity, which in turn is why they rarely discipline their children. Whenever you hear of the parent that is more like a friend than an actual parent, you can associate that behavior with this specific parenting style. These parents are usually very nurturing and loving towards their kids. Since these parents seem to avoid any confrontation with their kids, they often are known to have little rules and discipline, and whenever there are rules set in place, they tend to be inconsistent. Inconsistency when raising children is not a good thing. Kids will see that as a weak point and can easily use it against the parents. To get a child to behave, a permissive parent might do something such as use toys or food as FOUR DIFFERENT STYLES OF PARENTING 5
bribery. Some effects on children raised in a permissive style of parenting include lack of self-discipline, poor social skills, self-involved, demanding, and/or insecure due to the lack of boundaries and guidance. Also, research shows that teens with permissive parents were three times more likely to engage in heavy drinking, drugs, and other risky behavior (Bahr, S. J. & Hoffmann)
The fourth style of parenting that was identified by researches years later after Diana Baumrind was uninvolved parenting. As could be inferred from the title, this type of parenting means that the parents are simply not involved in their child’s lives. Uninvolved parenting can also be referred to as neglectful parenting. This style is characterized by a lack of responsiveness to a child’s needs. These parents make few to perhaps no demands of their kids and are often indifferent, dismissive, or all together just neglectful. Uninvolved parents are emotionally distant from their children, offer little supervision, and show very little love and nurturing. When looking at children who have been raised this way, they often show deficits in cognition, attachment, emotional skills, and social skills. Basically, they perform poorly in every area of life. These kids have to learn how to provide for themselves, they fear becoming dependent on others, are often emotionally withdrawn, and feel fear, anxiety, or stress due to lack of support from their parents. In some cases, parents who were raised by uninvolved parents themselves, often revert to those same ways whenever raising their own children. In some instances, uninvolved parents are often so preoccupied with their own lives that they fail to see just how uninvolved they actually
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are. Being overworked, coping with depression, or struggling with substance abuse are a few reasons why parents would become so involved with other things than providing emotional support for their children.
Parenting styles are important because the way a parent interacts with a child has a direct influence on their development. Parenting sets the stage for a child’s future emotional and social development. A child’s confidence and self-esteem level, their sense of security, their emotional well-being, the way they relate to other humans, how they deal with authority, and their success in school are all factors that can be affected when dealing with different parenting styles. Determining which parenting style is best for a parent and their child is very important. Parents need to be aware of the effects their behavior has on their child, and if necessary, should modify behavior accordingly.
To me, parenting styles are important because it is always something I have thought about while growing up. Whenever I was 4, my parents divorced, and going back and forth between two completely different households and rules is why this interests me. I would describe my mom as more of the permissive type of parent. She will do anything for us and always loves and cares for us, but has little to no discipline whatsoever. I can remember always thinking of ways to get around her punishments. My siblings and I had very little responsibilities around the house. On the other hand, life at my dad’s house was completely the opposite. Whenever my dad remarried is whenever things really started to change. Together, my dad and step-mom could be seen as authoritarian parents, mixed a little with authoritative. We have always been expected to do chores and things around the house, FOUR DIFFERENT STYLES OF PARENTING 7
and if we were to ever complain and whine, we knew that a spanking wouldn’t be too far behind. My dad and step-mom set rules and boundaries for my siblings and I that were expected to be followed. However, what they did do was explain their rules and reasoning for them. They made sure to never leave us wondering why they did the things they did. In the end, being raised between two different households, I feel that I turned out just fine. But parenting styles do have a direct effect on children, and is something that every parent should understand before going into raising a child.
Amato P. Dimensions of the family environment as perceived by children: A multidimensional scaling study. Journal of Marriage and the Family. 1990;52:613–620
Bahr, S. J. & Hoffmann, J. P. (2010). Parenting style, religiosity, peers, and adolescent heavy drinking. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 71, 539-543.