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How To Recognize The Four Parenting Styles And Why They Matter

Your parenting style is crucial when it comes to your children’s development. The strategies you are implementing in their upbringing affect your relationship with them – either positively or negatively. Depending on the type of discipline you employ, you can permanently damage your children’s temperaments and moods as they become grown-ups.

According to researchers, there are four types of parenting styles. These styles are classified based on what a parent demands from his children and what the parent gives them in return. The parenting approaches between these styles have significant differences. They are: permissive, authoritarian, authoritative and uninvolved. The parental values and practices vary, as well as the level of parental demand and child response.

1) PERMISSIVE PARENTS (ALSO KNOWN AS ‘INDULGENT’)

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prefer to be responsive instead of demanding. They don’t have any expectations from their children, allowing them to self-regulate. In terms of discipline, instead of pointing out children’s mistakes, they rather avoid the confrontation in its entirely. Unless there is a serious issue at hand, like the children breaking the law, they won’t interfere and the consequences for misbehavior are almost non-existent. Such parents, rather than being mentors, act as friends who will encourage the positive behaviors, but won’t do anything to stop bad ones from happening, because they think that “kids will be kids”. This style can be further split into two types: democratic parents and nondirective parents. While democratic parents are more willing to engage in conversations with their children, nondirective parents have no involvement in their upbringing. Kids coming from such families will have a hard time complying with rules, since in their household there weren’t any. They will most likely struggle academically and refuse any disciplinary action by people who have more authority than them. Often, they have low self-esteem and incapacity of finding their place in the society.

2) AUTHORITARIAN PARENTS

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want a lot, without giving anything in return. They are highly demanding, but most of the time, they don’t justify their demands. They expect their orders to be obeyed just because they are the parents, refusing to be questioned for the reasoning behind them. The household rules are very clear and the environments are flawlessly structured, because they want to constantly be in control of the situation. They too can be divided into two types: authoritarian-directive and non-authoritarian-directive. Authoritarian-directive parents impose their rules by force, being dominating figures, while non-authoritarian-directive parents leave more room to breathe and don’t force their rules upon the children in such an aggressive manner. For children belonging to such parents, problem-solving skills are not taught, since they are not allowed to overcome obstacles or take challenges by themselves. Whatever action they are performing, they need to follow the rules to a tee. There is no room for negotiation and most of the time, authoritarian parents use harsh punishments instead of disciplining their children. In case the children doubt their parents’ decisions, they will be just told they have to do it “Because I said so!”. While these children will grow up knowing how to play by the rules, they will also have deep self-esteem issues. If they have been repeatedly punished, they might also display a violent behavior, since they were never allowed to solve their problems themselves; every attempt at becoming independent has been punished.

3) AUTHORITATIVE PARENTS

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give and receive. They are involved in their children’s lives, without being too intrusive or restrictive. While they have rules in place, they allow exceptions and don’t punish drastically if the children don’t fully respect them. When disciplining children, they will tell them exactly what they did wrong and they are taking into account the children’s feelings. They are supportive of their children and work together with them, to help them develop problem-solving skills and be socially responsible. Instead of punishing, they use consequences – for instance, the children forgot their lunch at home, so they were hungry at school. These parents are also fond of positive consequences, making sure that they praise/reward children every time they do something good, no matter how insignificant it might look. Children having such parents usually do well in life, being both happy and successful. They are responsible and know how to evaluate situations and decide themselves what’s worth the effort and what’s not.

4) UNINVOLVED PARENTS

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are exactly that: distant, neglectful, uninvolved, with barely any responsiveness or demandingness. They are absent from their children’s lives, not being able even to even comply with their basic needs. Instead, they expect children to develop on their own, without their involvement. Sometimes, the parents’ behavior is due to a deeper health issue or simply because they weren’t ready to have children and don’t know how to deal with the situation. They barely have any idea of what their children are doing and because of that, they will grow up with self-esteem issues, low grades and a lack of understanding the meaning of happiness, since it would be something they didn’t experience at home. Major behavioral problems might also be present, because they didn’t learn to distinguish between good and bad.

THE PSYCHOLOGICAL CONTROL IN THE PARENTING STYLES

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While these four parenting styles seem to be about responsiveness and demandingness, in reality, there is also the psychological factor involved. It can manifest itself through control attempts like threatening to stop loving your children, guilt induction or shaming. This psychological control attempts to emotionally and psychologically weaken children, so that parents can bend them any way they want. The psychological control is what differentiates authoritarian parents from authoritative parents. While both types of parents are demanding of their children, authoritative parents are more willing to explain their decisions and behaviors to their children, also making them understand what they did wrong and how it can be solved. Authoritarian parents, on the other hand, act as if they are the supreme authority, making children accept their judgments by force. This is why, despite the fact that both styles aim for behavioral control, authoritative parents don’t inflict any psychological control, while the authoritarian ones can’t get enough of it.

THE INFLUENCE OF PARENTING STYLES ON CHILDREN

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Research shows time and time again how each parenting style will always have the same impact on children, in terms of academic performance, social interactions and behaviors.

  • Children having authoritative parents are more emotionally and academically stable than those who have non-authoritative parents. Their self-esteem is also higher, because they have better developed problem-solving skills.
  • Children with uninvolved parents mostly perform poorly regardless of the domain. They lack a basic set of values and skills which would help them succeed in life.
  • Children having authoritarian parents have good academic results and play mostly by the rules, but because of the lack of conversation with their parents, they have limited social skills, low self-esteem and are more likely to fall into depression.
  • Children with permissive parents are mostly the exact opposite of those coming from authoritarian parents. They might not have such great academic results, but they are better in terms of self-esteem, social interactions and are less likely to become depressed.

Looking at the parenting styles, it’s hard not to notice how the authoritative one is the clear winner, with children having the best of both worlds – notable academic performances and great social skills. Time and time again, this style showed the best results and they were evident as early as the preschool years, all the way to adulthood. These parents manage to find the balance between their demands and the respect and love they need to show their children and by doing so, they teach their children to do the same. And while authoritarian and permissive are opposites, but they are tangent with the authoritative style, there is also a clear loser in the group. Uninvolved parenting has devastating effects and the children who had to face this parenting style found it difficult to integrate in the society.

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The parenting styles are extremely accurate when it comes to predicting the children’s well-being later on in life. Every parenting style has two main components: responsiveness and demandingness – good parents need to learn how to balance these two out, making the demand proportional to the response. A good parent is a nurturing one, who is always there for his/her children and who is involved in their lives. While children are resilient, they need to count on their parents to learn what’s right and what’s wrong and for that, you need to explain and justify your decisions in front of them. Justifying yourself as a parent is too often wrongly seen as losing authority, when in fact, it’s a learning opportunity for the children.

How involved are you in your children’s lives?

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