Which Parenting Style is the Best for my Child

This is part 2 in my series about parenting styles. In the last part we talked about the four parenting styles as defined by the work of Diana Baumrind. To recap quickly, the four styles are: Authoritative, Authoritarian, Permissive and Neglectful. In today's post we'll look at what they mean for our children's development.


So. What can we tell about how each parenting style affects children? As I wrote in the spoiler alert at the previous post, the authoritative style is considered the best one for ongoing development. This is based on extensive research that looked into the effects of the 3 parenting styles described by Baumrind.

However, as you read this, please – again – remember that these parenting styles are archetypes and that you shouldn’t make harsh assumptions about the way you may or may not affect your children. The point here is not to blame anyone, but to encourage a mindful, honest approach into your own style. If you feel like you are more present in one of the other styles, there are things to be done, and we will talk about them in later posts.

Parenting. It happens also in outer space!

Effects of the Authoritarian Parenting Style

As you may remember, the authoritarian parent tends to be very demanding, setting strict rules and expectations and harsh on enforcing them. On the other hand, he is low on the responding scale, not paying much attention to creating a supportive closeness with the child.

Children with authoritarian parents are much less likely to engage in exploratory behaviors. That means they feel less secure to tackle the world and find out things for their own.

Children to authoritarian parents tend to be less independent when compared to children of authoritative or permissive parents. That means they grow up to feel more dependent on their parents and in need of their ongoing guidance and support, even in adulthood. In the same note, they don’t really rely on themselves to make important decisions and need authority figures to do that for them.

On the other hand, they have a hard time seeing their parents as genuine authority figures as they grow up. When the parents try to socialize with them, they will be more likely to be rejected by their children.

The authoritarian parenting style may also result in children who have poor emotional adjustment. Growing up with parents who find it hard to relate to their kids’ emotional states and support them emotionally, makes it hard for a child to learn how to adjust his or her own emotional states as time goes by.

As a result of that, children of authoritarian parents tend to have more internalizing and externalizing problems. Internalizing problems are those that manifest as depression, anxiety, and social withdrawal; whereas externalizing problems are those that manifest as aggression, outbursts and delinquency.

Research into suicidal ideation and behavior shows that authoritarian parenting may increase those issues in adolescents.

Effects of the Permissive Parenting Style

As opposed to the authoritarian parents, the permissive parents tend to put a much lower emphasis on rule setting. They have high regard to their children that manifests in high responsiveness and much freedom for the kids. Sounds great, don’it? But how does it play out in the long run?

Research has shown that the permissive parenting style tends to raise self-confident and self-reliant kids but to also result in higher impulsivity in the children. They have lower abilities to self-control their own needs and impulses, which may manifest as increased alcohol or drug use. This is usually not found in children who grew up with less permissive parents.

These kids tend to lack a sense of social responsibility.

They tend to have more problems associated with eating behaviors and weight and are twice as likely to be overweight compared to other children. They are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as sexual risk-taking, experimenting with drugs etc.

And remember that I wrote about higher suicidal ideation in children of authoritarian parents? The same was found in children of permissive parents.

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The Effects of Authoritative Parenting Style

Ok. Now that we saw all the effects that may happen as a result of a rigid authoritarian or permissive parenting style, let’s look at the authoritative style. As you may remember, this style is defined by high responsiveness and demandingness.

Children of authoritative parents tended to have less emotional problems than their peers who grew up in authoritarian or permissive households. This is true for both externalizing and internalizing problems.

They are more confident than other children, feel more independent and have high self-esteem.

Children who grew up in an authoritative parenting style tend to be self-reliant but also have better self-control than those who grew up under the permissive style. This is why they are less impulsive and engage in fewer risky-behaviors such as unprotected sex or drug abuse.

They have better social skills and are usually regarded as sociable and loved by their peers. They have better adaptive skills in different situations.

The Effects of the Neglectful Parenting Style

There isn't much to say about the long term effects of this style. The reason for that is there's not much research into that style of parenting. The neglectful style wasn't one of the original styles in the model and it's considered as a sub-type of the permissive style, but on a totally different scale if you ask me.

The available research shows that children of neglecting parents tend to have really unfavorable outcomes, such as depression, substance abuse and poor academic achievments. They are way more liekly to engage in risky behaviors.

man sitting alone in a room

So, what does it all mean? I think you can see quite clearly that children are better off with parents who are more close to the authoritative style. That means they are parents who set clear expectations from their children, they have clear rules and consequences, but they also keep an open dialogue with the kids and support them emotionally in a warm and close way.

The way I see it, the authoritarian and permissive styles – although very different in their own ways – are a symptom of the same problem. When we parent, we have to process and engage with a lot of information and experiences at the same time. There are many internal and external stressors that we must deal with and sometimes it's easier for us to look at and deal with what's going on right now, and miss the long term view.

For example, if my child is having a small tantrum in the store over some candy I didn't buy her, I can just lash out at her, scare her to submission and have the silence I need to go on with my shopping. But by doing so I'm not looking at the long term, and this is the biggest problem of those less-than-optimal parenting styles.

I use to say that parenting is a long-haul game. We are not only raising our children today. We are raising the adult human beings they are going to be. We must take to heart what we say to them and how we communicate with them. And this is why I think that working on ourselves to get as close as can be to the authoritative style is a great parenting goal.

This is it for now. I will come back again to the issue of parenting styles with some thoughts I have about what the authoritative style is lacking and how we can make it even better. Of course, this is only one way to describe parenting style and there are much more, for example helicopter parenting, tiger-mom etc. I'll touch on those as well in the future.

In the meanwhile, please share with me in the comments – what do YOU think about the four parenting styles? How is this resonating with you? I'd love to hear from you.

four parnenting styles apparently parent PINT

Featured image by Mike Scheid

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2 thoughts on “Which Parenting Style is the Best for my Child”

  1. Hi, Eran. Great series of posts! I’ve been working on adding content about parenting styles to my page as well. It’s nice to see a pyschologists point of view on each style which supports a lot of the research I’ve done. Keep up the good work!

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