Ep. 05 – Understanding Parenting Styles

There are many ways to describe parenting these days. We have helicopter parents, lawnmower parents, tiger moms, and what-not.

But in the field of psychology, there are four known types of parenting styles: Authoritarian parents, Authoritative parents, Permissive parents, and Neglectful parents.

What are they? What do they mean? And which one is best for your children? Find out in this episode.

You'll Learn

  • Who was Diana Baumrind
  • What are the demanding and the responding scales
  • What does each parenting style look like
  • The effects of each parenting style on children

Click here to listen!

Episode Breakdown

  • [03:29] Four Types of Parenting Styles
  • [08:20] The Authoritarian Style
  • [09:21] The Permissive Style
  • [10:53] The Authoritative Style
  • [12:14] The Neglecting Style
  • [14:11] The Effects of Each Parenting Style
  • [25:30] How Can we Move Between Styles

Resources Mentioned in The Episode

parenting styles

Listen to episode #01 which was mentioned in this episode.

Read more about parenting styles in the following post.

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Helicopter! Lawn mower! Tiger! Free range! Monster!

Those are not items on my Amazon shopping list. Those are the titles of different parenting styles that you could read about in the popular media in the last couple of years. But what do they all mean? And what are our parenting styles all about and how can you decipher your own parenting styles? And should you try and change it? Those are really good questions, my friend, and we're going to tackle them after the intro in today's episode, so hop aboard, this ship is about to sail.

Hi, and welcome to episode number five of The Apparently Parent Podcast. My name is Eran Katz, I'm really happy that you joined me today because today we've got a packed one for you. We're going to talk about parenting styles.

So have you ever stopped to think about what kind of parent you are? For example? How do you make parenting decisions? How do you want your children to experience you? How much thought do you actually put into it on a daily basis? Are you intentional in your parenting? Or are you just winging it? The answer to these and other questions are the building blocks of what we call your parenting style.

A parenting style is just a way to describe the combination of your mindsets, your thoughts, feelings, and behavior as a parent, trying to sum them up in some kind of way. And before we dive into this concept of parenting styles, I have a cautionary word: parenting styles are just a schematic way to describe something that is really complex. Okay, reality is complex, parenting is really complex. The human mind, the human mind is complex, but the human mind also seeks patterns, categories and simplicity. This is why we put things into neat little boxes.

However, as you learn about parenting styles, please bear in mind that reality is always more complex, okay? Those are merely archetypes, no one really falls into one bucket 100% of the time. And as we sail our ships in the seas of parenting, we tend to move between one style and another. And by learning about these different parenting styles, you become better suited to direct your own ship, instead of just drifting around aimlessly. You will be more able to connect to your parenting values. So just keep this in mind. Don't be too harsh with yourself if you identify yourself with some kind of parenting style that you don't like.

So parenting styles have really been popularized by the media in recent years because it can be kind of a sexy topic. Think about the famous books like Tiger Mom or helicopter parenting or lawn mower parenting.

But those are kind of popularized media concepts. And here in The Apparently Parent Podcast, my goal is really to combine the art of parenting with the science of psychology, which is where I come from. And in the psychological literature, we deal mainly with four categories of parenting styles, and they stem from the research of one woman called Diana Baumrind.

Baumrind was a clinical and developmental psychologist and she studied parenting for a long time. And she came to a realization that you can describe parenting with two different scales.

One scale is the demandingness scale and the other scale is the responsiveness scale. Always in psychology, when we have scales, we can describe one person as being high or low on either of those scales. So we have two scales like here, okay, the demandingness scale and the responsiveness scale. Those two dimensions, when we combine them, we get a square. If the two scales are perpendicular to each other, we get a square with four quadrants, one for each style. And go to the show notes of this episode, apparentlyparent.com/5, you can do it now unless you're driving or jogging. And when you go there, you will see a drawing describing exactly what I mean right now.

So let's talk about those two scales. And we're going to start with the demandingness scale. In the previous episode, we talked about the demanding parent, so it's kind of similar in a way, but the demandingness scale talks about how we set rules in our family as parents, how you enforce those rules.

Think of your own parents for a second. Okay? What were their expectations from you as a child? What happened when you didn't follow through or behaved in a way that was unacceptable by your parents? Were there any repercussions? Were there any punishments? If so, what kind of repercussions or what kind of punishments? Think about those. And maybe you can notice that one parent was more demanding than the other one.

And now we can think about the other scale, which is the responsiveness scale, which I prefer the term closeness. This scale describes how close we are with our children, how we respond to our children's needs. So how close do you let yourself be with your child? How do you respond to their emotional needs? To their physical needs? To their questions? How warm are your communications with your child?

So as always, let's have a little example okay? Think about being in the playground with your kids and one kid falls from the merry-go-round. It's not your kid, it's a different kid, okay? And they start crying and the child's mother approaches the child. And now we can have two different kinds of reactions. Okay?

So in scenario number one, the mother scolds the child, she says something like “what the hell were you thinking standing like that on the merry-go-round? I told you not to do this. I told you it's not allowed, you little brat”. And she picks up the child kind of roughly and drags him away.

And the second scenario, here the mother comforts the child. She says something like “Oh, honey, how are you? Are you okay? I told you that you shouldn't stand like that on a merry-go-round. And while it's spinning, this is really dangerous. And this is what happens when we're not careful”. And she's checking the child and sees there are no bruises and lets him continue his play.

So think about those two scenarios, those two different mothers, and think about the demandingness and the responsiveness scale.

In the first option, it was a high demanding parent and a low responsive parent. She was demanding him to comply with her instructions and when he didn't she was really angry with him. And her responsiveness, her warmness or closeness to the child's emotional needs in those moments was kind of low.

And the second option was that the mother was a lot less demanding. She did tell the child not to go on the merry-go-round and stand on it like that. And she wasn't really paying attention. So the demand was lower, much lower, and responsiveness was higher.

I hope this example can put some kind of colors into this concept of the two scales, the demandingness scale and the responsiveness scale. But what I want to do now is to break down the four types of parenting styles.

And, as I've said, we put the demanding scale on the y axis of a graph, and the responsive scale on the horizontal x axis. So we get a square with four quadrants, and each quadrant corresponds to one parenting style. And if the graphic doesn't sit well with you, it doesn't really matter. So what I'm going to do now is describe each and every one of those parenting styles.

And we're going to start with the authoritarian parenting style. So the authoritarian parenting style is the parent who is high on the demanding scale and low on the responsiveness scale. For those parents. The law of the land is the law of the parent. They put very, very strict rules, they expect full compliance, and they tend to enforce those rules with harsh attitudes, such as punishments, negative reinforcements, and being really strict.

They monitor the children's behavior in a very strict kind of way, and they do not accept the idea of a democratic dialogue in the family. So what the parent wants is what's going to happen. And if the child has something that he or she wants, they don't pay a lot of attention to it because they think they know better, usually. And maybe I do caricaturize it a little bit, but I want to stress the point.

Almost the opposite is the permissive parenting style. And the permissive parent is a parent who is low on the demandingness scale and high on the responsiveness scale. Okay, so again, the authoritarian parent was high on demanding and low on responding. And the permissive parent is low and demanding and high on responding.

So the permissive parent, he or she does not put a lot of rules and when they do give some rules to their children, they don't do a lot. They don't put a lot of effort into enforcing those rules. So the children of permissive parents are more free to their own. And in those families, they are more prone to a democratic kind of dialogue where everyone can say their part, and sometimes even make decisions on behalf or instead of the parent. Some families impose some kind of a democratic way of taking votes, and everyone has an equal vote. And those parents tend to see the parent-child relationship as non hierarchical. It's not like the parent is a little bit above the child, but they are all equal. Those are the kind of parents that may say that they are their children's best friends.

What we have seen for now was the authoritarian and the permissive parenting styles, which are kind of opposite because on one side we had the high demanding and the low responding, and on the other side, we had the high responding and the low demanding.

What happens when a parent is high on the demanding scale, but also high on the responding scale? This is the parent that we call the authoritative parenting style.

And it's confusing and it's breaking my teeth, but we have to be careful not to confuse the authoritarian and the authoritative parents. The authoritarians are those with the high demanding and low responding types. And the authoritatives are those who are high on both scales, both on demanding and both on responding.

And those parents tend to find a good balance between setting rules and enforcing them, and setting high expectations for the children with also maintaining a good and healthy level of warmth and respect towards those children.

And in those families, they do tend to have a democratic dialogue, okay, so they do allow their children to say their piece and say their needs and what they want. But they also have leaders who are of course the parents and the parents have the veto right whenever they need to. So eventually the final word goes to the parent.

And actually, Diana Baumrind talked about those three types, the authoritarian, the permissive, and the authoritative. But of course we have four quadrants. So what happens when the parent is low on both the demanding and the responding scale. Different researchers who worked after Diana Baumrin defined it as the neglecting parent. Those parents treat parenting in a haphazard way. There are no strict rules, the rules are not really enforced, or sometimes they are, it's really not consistent and especially they do not try to have a warm response to their children. Those are kind of parents who are not really present. Hence, it's called a neglecting parenting style. It's not like we're talking about parents who really neglect their children in a physical way. They do feed them, they give them shelter, etc. But on the emotional level, the parents are not really there either because they're engrossed in their work or psychopathology or whatever.

Now, I have described those four types and I want you again to remember those are archetypes. Reality is always more complex. So if you listen to this and you identify yourself in one of those styles, that's okay. Okay, don't be too harsh on yourself. It may be you started to think of your parents as being authoritarian or too permissive or something like that, or maybe even neglecting. Try to remember that reality is always more complex. And this is just a way to explain and define things and usually you don't fall into one bucket and stay with it all the time.

And you can move around those mentioned. And this is why you're listening to a parenting podcast, right? Because you want to know yourself as I'm saying at the beginning of each episode. I'm here to help you learn more about yourself and your children. So this is what we want to do.

So now we're gonna move into talking about the effects. How these different parenting styles affect our children, and we're going to do it in the same order. So let's start with the authoritarian parents. So grossly speaking children of authoritarian parents, they tend to be less likely to engage in exploration, they tend to be less able to explore the outer world, feeling confident that they can do things in the world, to explore their own emotions.

So sometimes they neglect or kind of repress their emotions. They feel less secure to tackle the world and discover things for their own. They are much less confident and a lot more dependent than other children. And this is true also when they grow up. They tend to need more guidance, and more close support even as adults, and they need the help of other people, usually their parents, to clear the way for them.

This really reminds me of the concept of the helicopter parenting style, which is not exactly the same because helicopter parents tend to be also kind of responsive, trying to be there a lot for the children. And it goes well with the concept that we talked about in the previous episode, episode number five, about the protecting parent. And surprisingly, the children of authoritarian parents grow up to see their parents as not really authority figures. They need their help, they depend on them sometimes, but they do not regard them when they are adults. They do not regard their parents as genuine authority figures and they also, some of them, tend to reject the parents as socially as adults. So they move away to a different state, cut the ties, seeing them only on the holidays, as little communication as possible etc.

And when it comes to their own lives, their own emotional lives, their own relationships with other people, those children tend to have poor emotional adjustments, they tend to manifest what we call externalizing and internalizing psychological problems. So internalizing problems are depressions, social withdrawal, anxiety, etc. and externalizing psychological problems are issues with anger, aggression, sometimes delinquency. So, those are all related to a kind of poor emotional regulation and poor emotional adjustment that those children show when they grow up.

And one final thing that has been shown in different studies is that the children of authoritarian parents tend to have more suicidal ideations than other children. Again, that doesn't mean they commit suicide more often. But they do have more of these kinds of thoughts.

Now if we move to the permissive parenting style, what are the effects of this parenting style? Because you can actually think that children of the permissive parents are having a ball, right? Because they have a warm relationship with the parent, the parent really cares for their emotional markup, and they don't have a lot of rules. They're not demanding. They're not punishing.

Those children tend to grow up and be more self reliant and more confident than children of authoritarian parents, which is awesome, right? However, generally speaking, those children grow up to be more impulsive, and they have a lower rate of self control. They can be prone to more substance abuse and uncontrolled eating behaviors than other children or teenagers.

Studies show they have higher rates of over of being overweight. And on the social scale, they have lower rates of social responsibility because they never really had to learn how to compromise and how to consider other people's needs. So they tend to have problematic relationships and sometimes find themselves isolated.

And remember when we talked about suicidal ideations in the children of authoritarian parents? You can actually easily think about why it happens. But the same situation happens for the children of the permissive parents, they do also tend to have more suicidal ideations than children of authoritative parents.

So you can see that those kind of extremes, the authoritarian and the permissive, are not really helpful for your children. This leaves us now with the authoritative parenting style which again, they tend to be both high on the demanding scale and also the responsive scale. And the children of authoritative parents, they tend to have less emotional problems when compared to the two previous groups. And this is true both for externalizing problems and internalizing problems. So less aggression, less anger management problems, less depression, less anxiety, less social withdrawal. Good, right?

They tend to be also more confident. They are more independent/ They have higher self esteem. They are self reliant, but they're also in a better state of self control, versus the children of the permissive parenting style. So we see less abuse of drugs and other substances and less engagement in risky behavior, etc.

And you may think to yourself, what are the effects of the neglecting parenting style, which again, those are the parents who are low on the demanding and responsive scale. And to tell you the truth, there is a lot less research on this area. But the research that we do have show unfavorable outcomes for those children, higher rates of depression, substance abuse, poor academic achievements, they are much more likely to engage in risky behaviors. They have it bad, those guys really have it bad.

So you can clearly see that the winner is the authoritative parent. Those parents who set clear expectations for their children. They set clear rules and consequences, but they also keep an open dialogue. They listen to the children, they care about what the children have to say. They do their best to accommodate those wishes of the children. But they have the final word and they support the kids emotionally by being warm by being close by being caring. Those are the hallmarks of being an authoritative parent.

And when you come to think of it, authoritarian parents and permissive parents are kind of the two sides of the same coin. As a parent you have to process and deal with a lot of information and stresses all the time, right? And sometimes it's easier to deal with what is burning right now. Okay? And without really thinking about the future. For example, if you're in a grocery store and your child is having a tantrum, because they really want some candy, so maybe you have two options, maybe you have the authoritarian or the permissive option.

So the authoritarian parent will force his opinion on the child, maybe scare the child to submission, shouting at him and telling him to shut up and just go. And he doesn't really care what other people will say about him and the child will be scared into shutting up and not have a candy.

And a permissive parent maybe will give the child that candy, will feel bad for him not wanting to give the candy or hurting the child. So the permissive parent will let the child have the candy even though he may think that it's not the right thing to do for the benefit of the child health wise. In that example, the child would have won.

In both those situations the parent looks at the present situation. The fight that is going right in front of him, at this moment, the tantrum my child is having at this moment. And if I'm one of those parents, I'm not really looking ahead into the future into the adult that my child might become in the future.

And this is where things are really, really important because parenting is a long haul game. As parents, we are not only raising our children today, day by day, day by day, we are raising the adult humans they're going to be in the future. We're raising the friends, they’re going to be for their friends, as adults. We are raising the wives and husbands that they're going to be to each other. We're raising employers and employees and of course, and maybe most importantly, we're raising the moms and that they're going to be.

So we must take to heart whatever we say to them in how we communicate with them. This is why I believe that working on ourselves to get as close as possible to be authoritative parents is a great parenting goal. It's like a beacon in the ocean, leading us to calmer waters. Leading us to where we want to be as a family.

And for me, it means also accepting that sometimes I'm maybe more prone to be authoritarian or permissive in little moments, but I'm always striving to be more authoritative with my children, because this is what I believe is the best for them now and in the future.

So to recap this episode, we talked about parenting styles, and we talked about parenting styles in the psychological aspect, according to Diana Baumbrind, who was a researcher and a psychologist, and she developed the concept of the two parenting dimensions.

One is the demandingness scale and one is the responsiveness scale which I also like to call the closeness scale. And your position on each dimension puts you in one of broadly four categories. The authoritarian who are high on demanding and low and responsive; permissive parents who are high on responding in low and demanding; the authoritative, who are high on both; and neglecting or neglectful, who are low and both.

And we tend to move between states and places, and we are not always stuck in one place, but we, I believe, should strive to be as much as authoritative as possible. Usually we have some kind of dominant style that we are drawn into. And it's up to us to try to be aware of that and not judge ourselves and move towards the better one, which has been shown to be helpful for children today and in the future, which is the authoritative style.

That's because the children of authoritative children tend to be more confident, less dependent on the parents as they grow up, less impulsive, which means they have better emotional regulation skills, which can lead to better academic outcomes and a lot less psychological problems, a lot less relationship problems, etc.

So eventually, how can we move from one place to another, we feel we're not where we want to be. This is why we have The Parenting Map. And to remind you, if you didn't listen to the first episode of this podcast, please do so I will put the link in the show notes. But we talked about the parenting map, which is an acronym for mindfulness, attachment and purpose. So by being more mindful by learning about parenting by knowing ourselves and being more mindful, which also means being non judgmental with ourselves, we can work on ourselves and move ourselves closer and closer to the authoritative place which is where we are striving for.

That was I think, a long one and a little more, a little bit more dense. I hope you were okay with it. And for those of you listened this far, kudos for you. And listen to it again if you want to. And go to the show notes on https://www.apparentlyparent.com/5, you will see the drawing of the four quadrants and I will put some more resources for you to read about parenting styles if you want to, and I bet that maybe the wheels are spinning in your mind thinking about where you are on those dimensions or where your parents have been when you grow up, etc.

And that's great. Let your thoughts go wherever they want to go. Hang in there, play with your thoughts and just see where it takes you. And if you want to share something with me, please do so you can go to https://www.apparentlyparent.com. And you can write to me over there or go to Instagram, I'm at apparentlyparent. I’d love for you to DM over there. I will get back to you. I promise. Let me know what you think. Okay, so thank you. Thank you so much for listening to this episode and this show. I love that you do it. I love that you do it for yourself and I'm happy to have these conversations with you, if you haven't done so already, please subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts on, so you'll never miss another episode. New episodes come every Thursday, so you can get them by subscribing on your podcast applications or by subscribing to my mailing list which will notify you whenever a new one goes up. You can find it on https://www.apparentlyparent.com as well.

If you found this interesting or helpful, please share with whomever you think will find it helpful or interesting as well. And if you'd be so kind, please go to Apple Podcasts and leave a rating and review. Whatever you want to write that's fine. I read everything and it really helps me get in front of more people and also learn what you like and dislike and how I can make this show better for you. Okay, see, I'm trying to be as high on the responsive scale with you guys as well. So that's it for today. I will see you again next week. Bye bye.

About The Apparently Parent Podcast

On this show, I share with you my perspectives and experience of parenting and psychology.

Enhance your understanding of the relationship with your child and yourself by learning about attachment, mindful and playful parenting mindset and techniques.

Listen to me sharing my knowledge and experience both as a parent and a therapist, as well as interviews with parenting experts from around the world. 

Eran Katz - Clinical Psychologist and Parenting Counselor

Your Host

Eran Katz

First, I’m a father of two kiddos. But I’m also a Clinical Psychologist and Parenting Counselor specializing in Attachment Theory and Experiential, Emotional Focused Psychotherapy. I believe that parenting is one of the most important things we ever do in our lives. This is why I love talking about it and helping parenting just like you and I find their best-parenting-selves.

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