Parenting may seem more difficult than rocket science at times. New studies are constantly being introduced with new recommendations on how to parent. Parenting gets even harder when you take into account that each child’s personality is different, and what works for one child is not guaranteed to work for another. Psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study during the late 1960s where she differentiated three distinct parenting styles based on responsiveness and demands. While it may seem convenient to label yourself as one specific type of parent, most parents use a mixture of the permissive, authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles. A fourth style was later added but was not a part of the original study.
Permissive parenting is also known as indulgent parenting. If you are a permissive parent, you place low expectations on your child, with a focus on being responsive instead of demanding. Discipline is gentle and, in some cases, doesn’t exist at all to avoid confrontation. Bribery using toys and gifts is a common way for permissive parents to encourage their children to behave. These children tend to lack self-discipline, are quite demanding in all areas of life, have difficulty sharing and may exhibit insecure behavior due to the absence of distinct boundaries.
Authoritarian parents want to control many aspects of their child’s life. They stress obedience and place many demands on their children that may be unrealistic for their personality or age. They place low on responsiveness due to excessive demands. Punishments often lack a reasonable explanation and parents often deny their children choices or opportunities to participate in decision-making about activities, rules or anything that directly impacts their lifestyle. The effects on children are negative since they associate obedience with love and have lower self-esteem than their peers. It may be difficult for children of authoritarian parents to socialize with others and they have higher chances of being aggressive as they grow up.
Authoritative parents are similar to authoritarian parents because they also like to have a say in their children’s activities. However, they tend to be more rational than authoritarian parents and are willing to listen to their children’s viewpoints. This helps to encourage independence while establishing clear expectations, limits and consequences on actions and behavior. Parents in this category rank high for both demands and responsiveness, which creates the most positive environment for raising a child. These children are happier, have control over their emotions, socialize well with their peers, and are confident in their skills and abilities.
A fourth parenting style that was later added but is not an original determination with Baumrind’s research is the unresponsive or neglectful parent. These parents rank low on the responsiveness and demands scale. They don’t place demands on their children and typically have little to no interest in parenting. While they may provide the basic needs of food and shelter, they take a very hands-off approach. Their children have to learn to provide for themselves, are afraid to depend on others for anything, are emotionally withdrawn from others, and have excessive amounts of anxiety, fear and stress. It’s also more common for children of uninvolved parents to have problems with substance abuse.