Which type of parenting style is best?
To answer that question let’s define the 4 types of parenting styles first. The study of psychologist Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist at the University of California in Berkeley, in the 1960s lays the foundation for today’s parenting styles. In the 1980s, Maccoby and Martin aided in the refinement of the model as did Alfie Kohn in the 21st Century.
This information is to provide a cause-effect correlation between short-term and long-term behaviors in our kids. I share these styles with you as a piece of information. We can operate from one of these or all of these. I would also argue that we, as a civilization, are also evolving beyond these fixed boundaries as well.
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The Different Types of Parenting Styles: Theory of Diana Baumrind
Young kids demonstrate a wide range of behaviors, according to Baumrind. I think that we can all agree on that. Each type of conduct was strongly linked to specific styles of parenting. According to Baumrind’s idea, there is a strong link between parenting style and children’s behavior. These diverse parenting methods can result in different child development and outcomes.
Baumrind first established three parenting styles based on considerable observation, interviews, and analyses: authoritative parenting, authoritarian parenting, and permissive parenting 1.
Although Diana Baumrind is known for her work on categorizing parenting styles in the 1960’s, Maccoby and Martin (1983) were the first to use a two-dimensional framework to develop this three-parenting-styles paradigm.
They divided Baumrind’s permissive parenting style into two types: permissive parenting (also known as indulgent parenting) and negligent parenting (also known as neglectful parenting or the uninvolved parenting style).
In the 20th century research and education has widely accepted these four parenting styles:
- Authoritarian style (or Disciplinarian)
- Permissive (or Indulgent) (or Uninvolved)
Statistics On Parenting Styles
In the US, roughly 46% of parents use authoritative parenting style, 26% authoritarian parenting style, 18% permissive parenting style, and 10% neglectful parenting style.
The distribution is relatively stable within the population, except that European-American parents are about 2% more likely to have an authoritative style, while Asian-American parents are 2% more likely to have an authoritarian style.
4 Types of Parenting Styles
Parenting styles are classified based on two characteristics of parenting behavior and styles:
The degree to which parents manage or demand their child’s behavior is referred to as demands.
The degree to which parents accept and are sensitive to their children’s emotional and developmental needs is referred to as responsiveness.
Here are details of the various parenting styles on child development:
1. Authoritative Parenting
HIGH DEMANDS. HIGH RESPONSIVENESS.
While authoritative parents have high expectations for their children’s achievements and maturity, they are also kind and responsive to their children. These parents establish standards and maintain boundaries by engaging in open dialogues, offering direction, and employing logic and reason.
These parents provide their children with rationales and explanations for their decisions and behaviors. Explanations help kids develop a feeling of self-awareness while also teaching them about values, morality, and objectives.
The disciplinary approaches are those that are based on logic, negotiation, and outcome-oriented outcomes that are focused on managing behavior. There is an emotional connection with an emphasis on the relationship over obedience and control.
Affectionate and supportive parents are the hallmarks of authoritative parenting. It is important to them that their children have autonomy, that they are given a great deal of freedom, and that they are encouraged to be independent.
This style of parenting is sometimes referred to as the democratic parenting style 6 or the democratic parenting approach as two-way communication is used.
The children of authoritative parents are highly regarded and adored. Kids who grow up in this type of environment tend to be socially engaged and do well in school.
According to Baumrind’s studies of parenting styles, children of authoritarian parents are more likely to:
- Tend to be happy
- Are more self-sufficient
- Are more physically active
- Have strong academic performance
- Develop positive self-esteem
- Interact with classmates while demonstrating competent social skills.
- Better mental health – fewer cases of sadness, anxiety, suicide attempts, delinquency, and alcohol and drug abuse.
- Reduced tendency toward violence between the ages of 13 and 15.
- Are firmly secured to one another.
2. Permissive Parenting
LOW DEMANDS. LOW RESPONSIVENESS.
Permissive parents establish few rules and boundaries, and they are hesitant to enforce those rules when they do exist. These overindulgent parents perceive themselves as being kind and generous, but they are reluctant to say no or disappoint their children because they do not want to hurt their feelings or create conflict. In this style, parents tend to be uninvolved and they struggle with being present, physically or emotionally. Children are expected to “raise themselves”. Parents have a hard time setting boundaries and the stress of parenting is often overwhelming, so they don’t want to rock the boat. They fear of rejection from their kids, so that fear of conflict keeps them passive and permissive.
Children of lenient and permissive parents are more likely to suffer negative outcomes:
- Can’t seem to follow the rules.
- Have less self-control than usual.
- Possess egocentric characteristics in their behavior.
- Have more difficulties in relationships and social interactions
- Have no boundaries or understanding how to work within boundaries. Even boundaries for themselves, like going to bed when they are tired or doing homework, studying for a test, or taking care of themselves.
3. Authoritarian Parenting
HIGH DEMANDS. LOW RESPONSIVENESS.
There are two things that make the authoritarian style different from other parenting styles: high levels of parental control and low levels of parental response.
Even though the names of authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles sound similar, they have a lot of crucial differences in how they think about parenting, what they want, and how they do it.
“Because I said so”, and “it’s my way or the highway”, authoritarian parents demand that their children do what they say. Only one voice matters and communication is through strict rules and standards. This is also the parenting style where the expectation is that the child is to “be seen and not heard”.
Authoritarian parents don’t pay attention to their child’s needs. The philosophy is that harsh treatment is how to make their kids stronger and tougher.
These parents are very strict and often use harsh punishment, like corporal punishment, to get their kids to behave. Fear is often used as a tool for control. These kids tend to do well in school, but suffer from low self-esteem, depression and have poor social skills. Children who grow up in this type of environment tend to see love as conditional as long as they “fall in line”.
Children of Authoritarian Parents tend to:
- Feel bad about themselves.
- Possess a low sense of worth.
- Show more behavioral problems or conduct problems
- Have more temper-tantrums.
- Perform less well in school.
- Have a lower level of social skills.
- Are more likely to have mental health problems
- Frequently drink alcohol or take drugs at an early age and develop substance abuse problems over time.
- Have a hard time self-regulating
4. Neglectful or Uninvolved Parenting
LOW DEMANDS. LOW RESPONSIVENESS.
Like permissive parents, neglectful parents do not establish clear limits or strong expectations for their children. They often see parenting as a burden that needs to be escaped from.
This group of uninvolved parents may have had mental health concerns themselves as children, including depression or physical abuse at the hands of their parents.
Children of neglectful or uninvolved parents often have trouble in school and often problems with behavior, as well since they have not had appropriate role modeling.
Children of parents who are neglectful:
- Are more impulsive in their actions.
- Emotional self-regulation is not possible.
- Exhibit more delinquent behavior and problems with addiction.
- Have higher mental health problems – including the potential for suicide.
But there is something called…
5. Connection Parenting
AGE-APPROPRIATE DEMANDS. HIGH RESPONSIVENESS.
Connected parents are curious and attentive to their child’s needs. There is an understanding of what can be expected from their children because they are aware of brain science and know the stages of brain development based on the age of their child. An example of where this information is helpful is when the part of the child’s brain that is in charge of self-regulation and reasoning isn’t capable of meeting the expectations of many parents until the kids are 11 or 12. Not to mention that the brain isn’t at full and optimal formation and function until we are in our mid-20’s.
Boundaries are set and consistently enforced in a way that uses both logical and natural consequences. Values are taken into consideration as boundaries are set and communicated to the children so that the children understand why the boundary is in place.
Expectations are set and the effort is recognized as much, if not more than the achievement as the growth mindset directly correlates to greater success than a fixed mindset based upon achievement as the sole indicator of success.
Connection Parenting leads to more cohesive relationships within the family by having strong communication.
Children of parents who are connected:
- Are more socially engaged with others as they have learned at home how to connect and communicate with others.
- They are able to self-regulate more quickly as different techniques have been explored at home with their parents.
- These kids have strong boundaries and self-confidence and are less likely to be swayed by peer pressure.
- Kids raised in homes that adopt the style of Connection Parenting tend to do better in school because they are more self-confident and have lower stress levels.
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Which parenting style is the most effective?
According to research spanning decades, authoritative parenting is consistently associated with the best outcomes in children, particularly in boys.
Psychologists and psychiatrists up until now, generally agree, that the authoritative parenting style is the most effective parenting style in western culture. It has been examined in several nations for more than 25 years. However, there are still contradictions and outliers in certain regions. I will argue that Connection parenting is the most effective style. Brain science, two-way communication of values and boundaries, as well as, age appropriate discipline as a teaching method are all very successful and evidence based techniques that are the most effective for all members of the family.
I will point out a couple of noteworthy challenges in Baumrind’s actual data and reports. Alfie Kohn, in Unconditional Parenting 3, does point out that Baumrind cited in favor or spanking, declares that parents who don’t use power to compel obedience will be seen as indecisive and that extrinsic motivators and “contingent reinforcement” should be used. The real kicker for me was her notation that she thinks unconditional love will make children “selfish and demanding.”
When it comes to academic outcomes in the Chinese American population, some research have found that using authoritarian parenting is connected with the best academic outcomes 24, while others have discovered that using authoritative parenting is the best predictor of school success 25.
So far, no study has definitively proven the benefits of authoritative parenting, despite the fact that numerous previous studies have repeatedly demonstrated these benefits. While Authoritative parenting is still the most encouraged parenting style in modern the Western cultures, we encourage peaceful parenting with non-violent communication based on mutual respect. Science does not dispute this approach.
Thankfully, research is ongoing, and we are learning much more about brain science as it relates to connecting with children and the direct correlation to their performance and behaviors. We must remember that our children are perfect and whole just as they are. We don’t need to worry about fitting into a “box” or give ourselves a label of how we parent. The bottom line is that we parent from a place of unconditional love and connection.
Either way, we encourage you to learn more about different parenting styles and their impact on children’s lives! We’ve explored this topic in one of our previous articles – be sure to read it!
Parenting styles as compared to the parenting activities
It is also important to distinguish between parenting style and parenting practice because this distinction can have an impact on the outcome.
Parenting style refers to the emotional climate and level of control that parents maintain over their children.
Parenting practices are the behaviors and steps that parents take daily in their parenting responsibilities.
Even when parents have the same parenting style, they may opt to apply specific parenting techniques in different ways. Consistencies and boundaries often vary in households but are the key to a cohesive family unit and best results for the kids.
Parenting studies have many limitations and are criticized for them
The fact that many parenting studies only discover associations between parenting styles and outcomes should be kept in mind while evaluating the findings of the research. In other words, the findings are just correlative and not predictive in nature. For example, parents who are kind and sensitive to their children tend to have children who are less prone to behavioral issues. One could be led to conclude that warm and sympathetic parents result in better behaved children.
However, it is simple to flip this back and assert that children who behave well cause their parents to be more loving and responsive. Different kids have different temperaments, we can see this even in the same household, and their actions might have an impact on their parents’ actions. The results of this parenting research do not tell us which of the two causes and effects relationships is correct.
So why do the vast majority of psychologists and parenting professionals continue to endorse an authoritative parenting style?
One explanation for this is that there is an overwhelming amount of research that consistently demonstrates these correlations. Also, as you look at the other styles, this is the most palatable for the majority of the population. Another explanation is that there has been no evidence to prove that an authoritative parenting style is harmful to children’s development.
The idea that being frigid and strict (authoritarian), cold and disinterested (neglectful), or warm and indulgent (permissive) will help me achieve all of my objectives is difficult to contemplate.
As a parent, if I had to choose one of the 5 types of parenting styles I would adopt the Connection Parenting style. My ultimate parenting goal is to raise a healthy, happy, kind, and responsible child who will grow up to love themself and our family AND I want to enjoy the process of being a parent. Connection Parenting checks those boxes.
If you want to find out more about Connection Parenting, check out our guide for free. We also have a supportive community of parents who are living the Connection Parenting lifestyle.
Quiz on Parenting Styles
Try this PsychCentral quiz to determine your parenting style.
With all the techniques and strategies you learn in the Connection Parenting Guide, you will be able to connect with your kids, your message will be heard, and you will know to set boundaries in ways that actually make sense to them without encountering resistance.
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