What Is Your Parenting Style & How Does It Impact Your Children?


Growing up, did you ever think, “If I ever have kids, I’m not going to be like my parents!”? Or have you thought you should be just like your parents because you turned out “alright?” Maybe you are the parent that isn’t worried about how you were raised, and instead, you read ALL the parenting books and take EVERY parenting class. You may even be the type of parent that is “just winging it” and taking it day by day.

All of these thoughts and preparations (or lack thereof) are totally normal. But did you know your parenting style or the type of parent you are can have long term effects on your child?

There are four main parenting styles. Each one seems to have an impact on an individual’s behavior later in life. Let’s dig into this a little bit more.

Topic Of Discussion

1. Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parents expect their children to follow strict rules. When their children fail to follow the rules, it usually results in some kind of punishment. This seems normal… However, authoritarian parents usually fail to explain the reasoning behind the rules or behind the punishment. They also tend to not reward positive behavior and typically only provide feedback in the form of punishment for misbehavior.

This type of parent can be pretty demanding of their children. The parents often have a lot of rules and want to micromanage their children’s lives and behaviors. They also have many unwritten rules their kids are expected to follow – often these rules are not explained and children are just supposed to know they exist.

People observing these parents may think these parents are harsh, cold, or aloof. Authoritarian parents are more likely to nag or yell at their children rather than offer them encouragement. They often feel that children should be seen and not heard. These parents often value discipline over fun.

Authoritarian parents typically do not rely on positive reinforcement to improve behaviors. They typically lean more towards corporal punishments, such as spanking. When their rules are broken, they react swiftly, and they react harshly.

Authoritarian parents are usually the Because-I-said-so or It’s-my-way-or-the-highway type of parents. There is often little room for negotiation with their children, and they rarely allow children to make their own choices. There are no gray areas with authoritarian parents. They typically view things as black and white. Their children often do not get a say or a vote on rules or making decisions.

While maybe not intentional, authoritarian parents usually use shame to get their children to follow rules. This might sound like: “Why do you always do that?”, “How many times do I have to tell you the same thing?”, or “You can’t do anything right!”. More shaming takes place than self-esteem building.

Authoritarian parents usually don’t mean to be this type of parent. There are different factors that contribute to the use of this style. These factors include: they had an authoritarian upbringing of their own, they tend to be less agreeable, or they tend to show more neuroticism.

Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to individuals who are obedient and accomplished. However, individuals with this style of upbringing are often lower in happiness, social competence, and self-esteem. There are ways to avoid authoritarian parenting. This may look like:

  • Listening to your child.
  • Using logical consequences.
  • Taking parenting classes
  • Establishing household rules that everyone is aware of and everyone understands.

2. Authoritative Parenting

Like authoritarian parents, those with authoritative parenting styles establish rules and guidelines their children are expected to follow. The difference is that the authoritative parenting style is much more democratic. Authoritative parents are responsive to their children, and they are willing to listen to questions children may have. When their children fail to meet expectations, authoritative parents are usually more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing.

Authoritative parenting has been identified as the most effective and helpful to children. Research suggests parents should flexibly utilize parenting techniques based on their personal goals and unique behaviors of each child. Traits of authoritative parenting may look like:

  • Administering fair and consistent discipline when rules are broken.
  • Allowing children/youth to express opinions.
  • Encouraging children to discuss options.
  • Fostering independence and reasoning.
  • Listening to their children.
  • Placing healthy limits, consequences, and expectations on their children’s behavior.

Authoritative parents may have high expectations of their children; however, they also tend to be flexible. If there are extenuating circumstances, this parenting style typically allows for parents to adjust their responses accordingly.

Parents using this style are able to adjust and adapt their approach according to the situation, the child’s needs, and other presenting factors. When employing authoritative parenting style, discipline takes into account all variables (child’s behavior, situation, etc.).

Authoritative parenting style generally results in individuals who are happy, capable, and successful.

3. Permissive Parenting

Permissive parents have very few demands on their children. Parents using the permissive style rarely discipline their children and are generally nurturing and communicative with their children. This often leads the parent taking on the role of a friend more than that of a parent.

We’ve all heard of “helicopter parents” that hover of their child’s every move. Permissive parents are the opposite. Permissive parenting typically takes on the motto “kids will be kids.” Permissive parents are usually very lax and rarely enforce rules and structure. Because there is little enforcement of rules or structure with the permissive parenting style, children usually struggle with self-control and self-regulation.

The permissive parenting style may look like:

  • Being very nurturing and loving towards their children.
  • Emphasizing their children’s freedom over the child’s responsibility.
  • Using bribery with toys, gifts, and food in order to get children to behave.
  • Having few rules or standards for a child’s behavior; any rules they do have are inconsistent.
  • Seeming more like a friend than a parent.
  • Rarely enforcing consequences.

Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. Children brought up with the permissive parenting style usually experiences problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.

4. Uninvolved Parenting

Uninvolved parenting style is characterized by having few demands, low responsiveness, and little communication. Although these parents fulfill basic needs, they are generally detached from their children’s lives.

Uninvolved parents do not respond well to the needs of their children. They typically provide their children very little affection, support, or love. Uninvolved parents usually have very few demands on their children. They also hardly set rules or expectations and rarely provide guidance for their children’s behavior.

The uninvolved parenting style may look like:

  • Acting emotionally distant from their child.
  • Limiting interactions with their children because of being overwhelmed with their own problems.
  • Providing little to no supervision.
  • Setting few expectations or demands on their children.
  • Showing little warmth, love, or affection towards their children.
  • Missing school events, sporting events, and parent-teacher conferences.

Those who have experienced uninvolved parenting styles rank the lowest across all life domains. They tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem, and are less competent than their peers.

Have you experienced authoritarian, permissive, or uninvolved parenting styles? Do you need some help processing the tough experiences from your childhood? Book an appointment with Tri-Star Counseling by visiting our website or calling 423-430-9687. We would consider it a privilege to help you heal from a childhood that may have been neglectful or traumatizing.

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