Understanding Your Parenting Style and Why It’s Important

Everyone has a unique approach to parenting. There are, however, commonalities in the way parents interact with children which have enabled experts to identify four dominant styles.

Being aware of your style allows you to soften the negative aspects and build on your strengths. The more you know and understand about parenting, the more your child will benefit.

Dominant Parenting Styles 

Clinical psychologist Diane Baumrind defined the four dominant parenting styles in her ground-breaking work in the 1960s. These styles are based on discipline, nurturance, communication and expectations.

         1. Disciplinarian

Disciplinarians ascribe to the view that children should be seen and not heard. Those with this parenting style are strict and use punishment to achieve goals. Negotiation and communication are limited. Children are supposed to obey rules without question and expectations are high.

The lack of nurturance with this style is a problem. Disciplinarian parents want kids to achieve and be respectful, but they need to make sure children know they are acting from love. When rules are not explained properly, kids don’t learn to think for themselves or speak up. They are more likely to rebel as they get older and might be reluctant to turn to parents if they have a problem. Studies have found kids raised with this parenting style score lower for self-esteem and happiness.

         2. Indulgent 

Indulgent parents tend to give children a free reign and may believe their role is to be their child’s friend rather than an authority figure. Kids have few rules to follow and expectations are minimal. Sometimes parents make a deliberate choice to adopt ‘free-range’ parenting. Due to today’s busy lifestyle, many fall into this style without realising it, particularly when a lot of time is spent on devices.

Communication is generally open, and these parents are emotionally nurturing, but kids raised without enough boundaries and rules may grow up with a lack of self-discipline. As they are not used to being told what to do, they may have problems with authority and display a sense of entitlement.

         3. Uninvolved 

Uninvolved parents fall into two categories; those that make a conscious choice not to ‘mollycoddle’ kids to prepare them for life, and those who are distracted by other problems. Like indulgent parents, they let children largely do what they want, but for different reasons. Communication and nurturing are limited and there are few or no expectations.

Children raised with this parenting style might be more independent, but they don’t feel supported and are more likely to make wrong choices. All kids need guidance and nurturance, and this group has the worst outcomes in terms of self-esteem, happiness and self-control.

         4. Authoritative 

Authoritative parenting benefits kids the most because it has the right balance of discipline and expectations. Parents with this style are nurturing and make communication a priority. They have clear rules, but unlike disciplinarians, they explain the reasons for these rules. While they are firm, they don’t expect blind obedience.

By teaching children to respect rules but also think for themselves, authoritative parents raise kids who are self-disciplined, with high self-esteem and good communication skills.

Few parents will fit neatly into a single category. Regardless of your style, all parents stand to benefit from self-reflection.