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5 Parenting Styles: What Works, What Doesn't [FIND YOURS!]

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Parenting is an amazing responsibility, but being an amazing parent is not easy. Let that sink in…

Parenting styles can be a touchy topic, but every parent needs to decide what's important to them and find the parenting style best suited to helping their children grow.

In the words of 32nd U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt: “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”

To do that, parents have to ask questions like:

  • How do I measure parental success?
  • Am I living vicariously through my child?
  • Am I responsible to my child or for them?
  • Do I have my child’s best interest in mind?
  • Do I speak to my child in the most appropriate way?
  • Do I practice what I preach and live out the lessons I’ve taught my child?
  • What do I place emphasis on: who my child is becoming or what my child does?

Tough questions, no doubt. And rightly so. Growing your awareness of parenting styles can help you become a better mom or dad.

Ultimately, that’s the goal of this blog post. To inform parents like you about research-backed types of parenting styles, and empower you to put them into action in ways that set your children up for success in life.

Baumrind parenting styles definition: the dimensions

Diana Baumrind, an American clinical and developmental psychologist, is largely responsible for the parenting styles psychology that exists today.

When people talk about parenting styles, they’re referring to how parenting is done. Baumrind spent much of her academic life researching how and why parenting styles shape child development.

Baumrind identified two main parenting dimensions: responsiveness and demandingness.


Parental responsiveness is how much a parent responds -- in an accepting and supportive way -- to their child’s needs. In Baumrind’s words:

Source: Brookings


In contrast, parental demandingness refers to the rules, expectations and consequences a parent has set in place for their child. Or, as Baumrind wrote:

If we took a poll, would you say responsiveness or demandingness is more desirable?

It’s a bit of a trick question because both are desirable qualities for parents to possess. What matters is how you balance the two in your parenting styles -- and that’s what’s next!

4 Types of parenting styles [+ 1 special style]

Source: Mom Makes Joy

We’ve expressed the fact that every child is different, many times. The same goes for every parent; being a successful parent is no small feat. Perfecting your parenting style is -- and always will be -- a work in progress.

While there are other factors (e.g., genetics, environment, friends, culture, etc.) that can shape your child, your parenting style can leave a lasting, and positive, mark on their character.

Ready? Here’s the parenting styles breakdown.

1. Authoritarian parenting style

Low levels of warmth, high levels of control

Not to be mistaken for authoritative parenting (more on that below), authoritarian parenting insists children be obedient. Think “my way or the highway.”

An authoritarian parent expects their child to follow the strict rules they’ve established -- no questions asked -- without explaining why.

They don’t hesitate to enforce the rules and punish (or threaten to punish) their child when they fail to follow them. Unfortunately, some moms or dads withdraw parental affection as part of the punishment.

Effects of authoritarian parenting on children

Based on research from Baumrind and other psychologists, authoritarian parenting can lead to:

  • Hostility
  • Delinquency
  • Rebelliousness
  • Lack of autonomy
  • Antisocial aggression
  • Anxiety and depression

2. Permissive parenting style

High levels of warmth, low levels of control

Parents with a permissive parenting style are generally nurturing and set rules. But, they’re lax when it comes to enforcing them. If a child does break a rule, the parents will be lenient and not give out consequences (unless it’s extremely serious).

They don’t have high expectations for their child’s maturity level and self-control. They adopt a “kids will be kids” attitude. This is why permissive parents will end consequences early at the first sign of their child’s dissatisfaction or if the child promises to “stop” or “not do it again.”

Permissive parents usually act like a friend more than, well, a parent to their child. For example, a mom will encourage her daughter to open up about personal issues. But where a permissive parenting style falls short is when they don’t follow up with healthy solutions or sound advice.

Effects of permissive parenting on children

Research has found that permissive parenting can lead to:

  • Bossiness
  • Dependence
  • Low levels of self-control
  • Poor academic achievement
  • Decreased social competence
  • Failure to learn persistence and emotional control

3. Uninvolved parenting style

Low levels of warmth, low levels of control

Did you know? Psychologists Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin actually proposed this fourth parenting style in addition to Baumrind’s original three.

As you might imagine, uninvolved moms or dads have little to no involvement in their child’s life. For example, they may not be aware of their child’s whereabouts, school progress, or friend group.

When it comes to basic needs, uninvolved parents put in minimal effort, effectively leaving the child to their own devices and with excessive freedom. So you can imagine they don’t receive much affection, attention, guidance, or nurturing.

That said, not all uninvolved parents are intentionally neglectful.A parent could lack knowledge about child development, have health issues, struggle with substance abuse problems, or be overwhelmed with work, bills, etc.

Effects of uninvolved parenting on children

Over two decades of research has associated uninvolved parenting with:

  • Hostility
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Delinquency
  • Attention problems
  • Behavioral problems
  • Ineffective coping mechanisms

4. Authoritative parenting style

High levels of warmth, high levels of control

Like authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish and enforce family rules and guidelines. The major difference is that they do so kindly and lovingly.

Authoritative parents set high standards and have high expectations of their children. While children may feel pressured to succeed, parents keep open lines of communication and actively listen and respond to their questions or concerns.

Most importantly, when their children disobey or don’t meet expectations, their parents respond with warmth, support, and forgiveness instead of anger and punishment.

Effects of authoritative parenting on children

Baumrind’s and other psychologists’ research has shown that authoritative parenting can contribute to:

  • Self-control
  • Independence
  • Self-regulation
  • Happiness and success
  • Developed sense of autonomy
  • High levels of moral reasoning

Note: As you can see from the first three parenting styles, authoritative parenting appears to produce the most positive outcomes for children. In fact, decades of research shows the authoritative parenting style to be most effective. Keep in mind, though, this style can be quite demanding because of the time and energy involved.

5. Your parenting style

Arguably, there’s no one-size-fits-all parenting style. Anyone who has children of their own knows just how nuanced parenting is.

Some days you’ll feel uninvolved, other days you’ll feel more permissive. And we all have those days where it seems like the only way your child listens is when you get more authoritarian.

In parenthood, you’ll find yourself straddling a couple of parenting styles. That special combination is your personal parenting style.

It’s something you’ve created, something you’re improving upon and something that’s helping shape another human life. Own that responsibility and be proud.

(If you read this far, be proud of that, too! Now on to the questionnaire.)

Parenting styles questionnaire

Download the free questionnaire below and discover your personal parenting style!

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Conclusion: different parenting styles

Each of these parenting styles (and combinations of them) will contribute to different child outcomes. As a parent, you’ll desire some outcomes over others.

Wherever you see yourself on the parenting styles spectrum, know this: not every day will feel like a success. But, have heart! If you truly love and nurture your children, your unique parenting style will benefit your child as they grow into a unique human being of their own.

What parenting styles have worked best for your parenting journey? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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