We want to be better parents, so we need know what our current parenting style is in order to help us identify those areas to improve.
What is a Parenting Style?
A parenting style is defined as a systematic pattern of child rearing. Research on parenting styles started at 1930s and so far the most influential research is done by Diana Baumrind. In her research she identified four main parenting styles in child development which are authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and neglectful styles.
Diana Baumrind’s Four Parenting Styles
Baumrind identified a set of characteristics which she believed defined competence for children in North American society, and then she examined parents’ child rearing beliefs and practices to determine the parenting styles that were associated with those outcomes.
Authoritative parents are demanding and responsive. They provide both the discipline and self-esteem needs of their children. They set clear, reasonable standards for responsible behavior that are consistent with children’s developing abilities. They give more positive encouragement at the right places, while they also set firm limits in their enforcement. They are warm, reasonable and responsive to a child’s needs. They are supportive of a child’s individuality and encourage growing independence as well.
Research has shown that children who have authoritative parents are usually competent. These kids are more self-controlled, self-reliant and happy. They usually have high self-esteem, are well-liked by their peers and perform better in school.
Authoritarian parents are demanding but not responsive. These parents place high values on following rules, and tend to overemphasize the discipline side of the equation. They discourage give-and-take between parents and children, and do not take their child’s needs into consideration. They are intimidators requiring obedience.
Research has shown that children who have authoritarian parents tend to be more anxious, withdrawn and discontented. These children usually have poor self-esteem and are not doing well at school.
Permissive parents also called indulgent parents overemphasize the self-esteem side of the equation, and they are responsive but not demanding. These parents are warm, supportive and tolerant of the child’s impulses, while they set few rules or limits on what their children do. They also make few demands on the child for good behavior, do not use much punishment, and avoid exerting their authority. They seem to believe that children should grow up without any anger, tears or frustrations.
Research has shown that children who have permissive parents tend to be more immature, demanding and dependent. They often have unrealistic self-esteem, and blame others for their problems and misfortunes.
Neglecting parents are neither demanding nor responsive, primarily because they are disengaged.
Baumrind’s research indicates that among the four parenting styles, authoritative parenting is the most effective one in leading to healthy, happy and successful children, because of parents’ high expectations and support for mature behavior.
Difference between Authoritative and Authoritarian Parents
Another interesting recent research on parenting styles discusses the difference between authoritative and authoritarian parents. In addition to differing on responsiveness and demandingness, the parenting styles also differ in a third dimension: psychological control, which refers to using parenting practices such as guilt induction, withdrawal of love, or shaming to force the psychological and emotional development of the child inappropriately. One key difference between authoritarian and authoritative parenting is on psychological control. Both authoritarian and authoritative parents place high demands on their children expecting them to behave appropriately and obey parental rules. However, authoritarian parents also expect their children to accept their values, goals, and judgments without questioning. In contrast, authoritative parents are more open to discuss with their children. Therefore, although both authoritative and authoritarian parents have equal extent on behavioral control, authoritative parents tend to have less extent while authoritarian parents tend to have more extent on psychological control.