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Parenting Styles

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Parenting Styles

Have you ever thought of your mom or dad as a drill sergeant? It can seem like some parents give constant orders and expect perfection. Maybe you think of your mom or dad as more laidback. They are so "go with the flow" that sometimes you forget that they're your parent and not your peer! These differences are likely due to their parenting style.

  • What is a parenting style?
  • What are the four types of parenting styles?
  • What determines someone's parenting style?
  • How do parenting styles interact with attachment styles?
  • Why are parenting styles important?

Definition of Parenting Styles

Would you believe that there are several different approaches to the way parents raise their kids? Just as there are different styles of music like pop, jazz, and hip-hop, they are also different styles of parenting. The characteristic ways that parents respond to, take care of, and discipline their kids determine their parenting style. What are parenting styles, and which style do your parents or caregivers use?

Parenting styles are determined by how responsive and demanding parents or caregivers are as they raise their children.

Responsiveness is how attuned a parent is to their child's needs and concerns. It includes things like how involved a parent is in their child's emotional life and how much they listen to and respond to their thoughts and feelings. We all have different relationships with our parents. Do you tell your parents when you feel sad or disappointed? Do you feel comfortable sharing your feelings? Do your parents feel comfortable hearing about them?

Demandingness includes expectations, rules, and discipline. It includes the amount of consistent discipline and structure parents provide for their kids. Some parents listen to their kids before deciding whether they can go to a concert or go out with friends. Some parents make a decision one way or another, and that's the end of the discussion. Some kids never have to ask their parents for permission to do things, and their parents may not even know that they went to a concert!

Parenting Styles, a mother sitting on the grass with her three daughters smiling, StudySmarterParent and kids, pixabay.com

Types of Parenting Styles in Psychology

The psychologist Diana Baumrind identified 4 major parenting styles in the 1960s. She called these styles authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritative.

Notice the slight difference in terms between authoritaRIAN and authoritaTIVE. Check these terms carefully as you come across them in exams!

Authoritarian Parenting

The authoritarian parenting style is characterized by high demandingness and low responsiveness. Authoritarian parents impose strict rules and expect unquestioning obedience. These parents can be rigid in their expectations. Breaking rules is punished, sometimes harshly. Communication about rules and routines is discouraged or forbidden. Basically, authoritarian parenting is all about rules, obedience, and high standards.

Meg is 15, and her mom is an authoritarian parent. Meg is only able to hang out with friends that her mom picks out for her, go to birthday parties or events that her mom selects, and send text messages that her mom reads and approves before they are sent. Her mom dictates every aspect of Meg's life. If Meg wants to do something different than usual or make her own decision about something, her mom tells Meg that she's not allowed to do anything without getting her mom's approval first.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parents are the exact opposite of authoritarian parents. They let their kids decide everything for themselves! There are few rules, boundaries, or expectations. Permissive parents can seem more like friends than like parents. They are there for their kids, but maybe not in the way that their kids need in order to develop good boundaries and decision-making skills.

The permissive parenting style is characterized by low demandingness and medium to high responsiveness. These parents are often warm and friendly with their children but give them little guidance or direction. Where authoritarian parents are too demanding, permissive parents are too undemanding of their children. They have an overly relaxed parenting style. They set few limits or expectations for their children and establish little to no punishments for problematic behavior.

Adam is 17 years old. His parents are divorced and he lives with his permissive father. Adam and his dad are like best friends. They do a lot together and they're always texting each other all day long. Adam can talk to his dad about practically anything, and he knows that his dad loves him. When Adam started driving, his dad set a few rules about when he could use the car. However, those didn't last long. His dad would give him the car any time Adam complained. When Adam stays out later than he should, his dad laughs and calls him a rebel.

Uninvolved Parenting

Have you ever met someone whose parent just never seems to be around or care about what their kid does? This is the uninvolved parenting style. Other than meeting basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, etc.), uninvolved parents are completely disconnected and almost entirely absent from a child's life.

The uninvolved parenting style is characterized by low demandingness and low responsiveness. These parents see their responsibilities as ending with providing basic needs. They do not cultivate close relationships with their children, only interacting with them as need demands. Uninvolved parents can be unresponsive to or completely unaware of the greater needs or concerns of their kids. Uninvolved parents do not establish rules or expectations and rarely follow through with punishment. Cases of neglect are sometimes due to uninvolved parenting.

Kelly is 16 and has uninvolved parents. Her parents never hug her or tell her that they love her. Her family doesn't do a lot of the things that her friends' families do. They don't go out to the movies or go to events together. They barely even go out to eat together. Kelly is deeply involved with her school's theatre club, but she always has to take the bus to rehearsal or get a ride from another student's family. Kelly's parents never come to her plays. They never even know which play she's working on, and they never ask. They don't really talk to each other much or have conversations about their lives or interests. Kelly's parents don't know who her friends are and they don't ask about them.

Authoritative Parenting

Notice the different term here: authoritative instead of authoritarian. Authoritative parents engage in meaningful relationships with their children and are appropriately involved in decision-making. They provide just enough structure and rules to keep their kids safe and healthy while allowing them to grow, learn, and begin making their own decisions. Kids feel like they have more of a voice because of the give-and-take nature of authoritative parenting.

The authoritative parenting style is characterized by medium demandingness and high responsiveness. These parents establish clear, consistent rules for their children but are open to discussion or nuance within these rules, especially as their children get older. Authoritative parents are appropriately demanding but are also responsive to their children's reactions and needs. They are involved in their children's lives and encourage them to develop their interests and independence.

Brian is 15 and has authoritative parents. They expect him to get good grades and keep up with his primary hobbies, like soccer and Spanish. Brain's parents explain why it is important to be responsible, and they reward him for doing his best and following through on obligations. They give him rides to lessons and practices, and they enjoy having conversations with him whenever possible. They understand that it's important for Brian to go out and have fun with his friends, too. They trust him to pick friends and make good decisions when he's out, but Brian knows he can call his parents if he finds himself in an uncomfortable situation. Whenever he is unsure, they can help him determine the best course of action. They will be there for him and listen to his feelings.

Are you having trouble remembering the difference between authoritative and authoritarian? Notice how the word authoritarian is similar to totalitarian. These words signify intense control.

Parenting Styles, an infographic displaying the four parenting styles on a demanding-responsive axis, StudySmarterParenting Styles, StudySmarter Original

Parenting Styles and Attachment Styles

Attachment refers to the emotional bond between a child and their parent or guardian. The way a child relates to their parent or caregiver in early life often influences the way they behave in future relationships. Children benefit immensely from having at least one secure attachment with an adult figure as they are growing up. There are four different attachment styles:

  • Secure Attachment: trust and confidence that their parents will be there for them.

  • Ambivalent Attachment: uncertain or insecure toward their parents.

  • Avoidant Attachment: distrustful and uncomfortable towards their parents.

  • Disorganized Attachment: unsafe with their parents, uncertain, insecure, distrustful, and uncomfortable towards them.

A certain parenting style is not guaranteed to lead to a secure attachment style. Many factors influence the development of an attachment style. However, certain parenting styles are more likely to produce a secure or insecure attachment. The authoritative parenting style is the most likely to lead to a secure attachment style in children. Kids with authoritative parents are often more trusting and confident in their relationships. They have a stronger sense of self and independence.

Ambivalent, avoidant, and disorganized are all insecure attachment styles. Authoritarian and uninvolved parenting styles are associated with insecure attachments. Inconsistency or harshness from parental figures can result in children who struggle with self-esteem, trust, or dependency. Children of permissive parents can go on to form secure or insecure attachments. These parents are highly responsive to their children, and this fosters a more secure attachment. However, the inconsistency and lack of restraint associated with this parenting style can also result in an insecure attachment.

Parenting Styles, a mother holding her young daughter and giving her a kiss on the cheek, StudySmarterParenting, pixabay.com

The Importance of Parenting Styles

Parenting styles can influence important outcomes in a child's life. Children of authoritarian parents may develop low self-esteem and become socially withdrawn. Their brains and nervous systems may be prone to overreact when they make small mistakes. They often have poorer social skills than other children, tending to be unfriendly or harsh. Permissive parents can produce children who struggle with self-control. They can be moody, immature, or aggressive.

Uninvolved parenting can have the most severe lasting effects on a child's development. Children of uninvolved parents can seem indifferent or emotionally detached. These children may develop poor social skills and low self-esteem. They may also feel unloved and are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. These children tend to perform worse in school and struggle with self-control.

Children of authoritative parents are perhaps best off when it comes to parenting styles. These children tend to be likable and independent, with good social skills and a strong sense of self. Children of authoritative parents tend to be the most socially responsible and have the highest self-esteem. The authoritative parenting style is considered the most ideal style in American society. This style balances expectations for academic and personal achievement with the love and nurturing children need to grow up and become confident and emotionally balanced.

Parenting Styles - Key takeaways

  • Parenting styles are determined by how responsive and demanding parents or caregivers are as they raise their children.
  • The 4 major parenting styles are authoritaRIAN, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritaTIVE.
  • The 4 major attachment styles are secure, ambivalent, avoidant, and disorganized.
  • Children of authoritative parents tend to be the most socially responsible and have the highest self-esteem.
  • The uninvolved parenting style tends to cause the most harmful outcome in children.

Frequently Asked Questions about Parenting Styles

All the parenting styles are authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritative. 

Parenting styles can affect the development of a child by impacting how a child relates to the parent. 

The uninvolved parenting style is providing for basic needs but negligence in other areas. 

Parenting styles are determined by a parent's personality, how the parent was raised, and the kind of relationship the parent has with the child. 

The parenting style considered the ideal style is authoritative parenting.

Final Parenting Styles Quiz

Question

What are the 4 major parenting styles?

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Answer

Authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritative parenting style. 

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Question

What are the 4 major attachment styles?

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Answer

Secure, ambivalent, avoidant, and disorganized attachment style.

Show question

Question

True or False: Parenting style has no effect on a child's emotional development. 

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Answer

False

Show question

Question

Parents using this parenting style set strict, rigid rules for their children.

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Answer

Authoritarian parenting style

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Question

Parents using this parenting style are often warm and friendly but offer their children little guidance or direction. 

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Answer

Permissive parenting style

Show question

Question

Parents using this parenting style often know little about their child's emotional, social, or academic life. 

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Answer

Uninvolved parenting style 

Show question

Question

Parents using this parenting style are demanding but also responsive to their children's reactions and needs.  

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Answer

Authoritative parenting style 

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Question

A child who excitedly greets their parents after an absence is said to have which type of attachment style? 

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Answer

Secure

Show question

Question

A child who greets their parents with hostility or aggression after an absence is said to have which type of attachment style? 

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Answer

Ambivalent

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Question

A child who avoids their parents after an absence is said to have which type of attachment style? 

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Answer

Avoidant

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Question

A child who responds with a different emotional reaction each time their parents return from an absence is said to have which type of attachment style? 

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Answer

Disorganized

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Question

Which is the most harmful parenting style? 

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Answer

Uninvolved parenting style 

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Question

Which parenting style is most popular among American families? 

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Answer

Authoritative parenting style

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Question

This parenting style produces the most well-adjusted children. 

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Answer

Authoritative parenting style 

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Question

An inborn behavioral style and manner of responding refers to one's __________.

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Answer

Temperament 

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Question

What two factors determine parenting style?

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Answer

Responsiveness and demandingness

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Question

____________ is how attuned a parent is to their child's needs and concerns.

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Answer

Responsiveness

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Question

_______________ includes expectations, rules, and discipline.

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Answer

Demandingness

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Question

Who identified the four major parenting styles in the 1960s?

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Answer

Diana Baumrind

Show question

Question

True or False? AuthoritaRIAN and authoritaTIVE are interchangeable terms when describing parenting styles. 

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Answer

False. Be careful to note the difference between these two terms when describing parenting styles.

Show question

Question

In the classic movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, most of the children have parents who let them do whatever they want, except for (of course) Charlie. What type of parenting style do these parents use? 


Show answer

Answer

Permissive

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Question

Attachment refers to the _________ between a child and their parent or guardian.

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Answer

emotional bond

Show question

Question

True or False? Children whose parents have an authoritative parenting style are guaranteed to have a secure attachment style. 

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Answer

False. A certain parenting style is not guaranteed to lead to a secure attachment style.

Show question

Question

Lexi's mom has very strict rules and expectations about what she wears. Lexi's self-esteem is usually pretty low and is really hard on herself when any part of her appearance is out of place. Which parenting style does Lexi's mom likely use?

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Answer

Authoritarian

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Question

Children of parents with this parenting style are at greater risk for anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

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Answer

Uninvolved

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True or False? How a child relates to their parent or caregiver in early life has no effect on how they will behave in future relationships. 

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Answer

False

Show question

Question

When Isaac was younger, he didn't see his mom or dad very often. They usually worked late hours, traveled often, and were often too tired to really talk to Isaac when they were home. Now, as an adult, Isaac has had a hard time feeling emotionally attached in relationships and has never been with anyone for more than 3 months. Which type of parenting style did Isaac's parents most likely use?

Show answer

Answer

Uninvolved

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