Monday, November 21, 2011


There are four basic styles of parenting:  Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive, and Uninvolved. Of these four styles, the best outcomes, in terms of creating healthy development in children, occur when the Authoritative approach is used. The other three styles of parenting tend to cultivate negative and unhealthy characteristics in children that may seriously affect them as adults and possibly for the extent of their lives. Indeed, the other three styles of parenting also put children at risk for various clinical disorders.

Developmental psychologists have researched and identified four basic styles of parenting. Each style has advantages and disadvantages. Identifying these styles and the characteristics that define them can be helpful in determining what works and what does not in parent-child relationships. Determining the efficacy of parenting styles is invaluable when attempting to modify and correct developmental issues in children.


Of the four basic parenting styles, it has been determined that the Authoritative style is most conducive to healthy developmental growth in children. The characteristics of this style include being relatively strict and setting firm limits with children.

Tempering Authoritative parenting with emotionally warm, supportive, and explanatory communication style promotes optimum results in children’s mental health. Parents try to give appropriate consequences when children misbehave, but in doing so, they also try to facilitate children’s understanding about why they are being punished. Following through on these actions reinforces the message that parents do not enjoy punishing, but rather they care about the welfare of the child.

Research on parenting styles indicates the efficacy of Authoritativeness in parenting. For example, in studies involving the authoritative style of parenting, combined with Vygotsky’s concept of scaffolding, it appears that this style was more effective in producing positive results with relationship to parenting than either of the other three styles of parenting.

Another style of parenting is the Authoritarian style. This style incorporates some aspects of the authoritative style of parenting, e.g. strictness, firm boundaries; however, their approach is more controlling and absolute with a low tolerance for disagreement from their children. It is also much more punitive and often incorporates elements of abuse: mental, emotional, and physical abuse. Another negative difference between the Authoritative style and the Authoritarian style is that, while the first style is warm, the second is cold and rigid.

At the other end of the parenting spectrum is the Uninvolved style of parenting. Parents in this case show almost no caring for their children. The parental approach is rejecting, instead of warm. Though parents using this style will take care of most physical needs of their children, this style of parenting contains the element of neglect, which is considered by many professionals to be the most harmful form of abuse in child rearing.

The final parenting style is Permissiveness. Permissive parents also contrast strongly with the Authoritarian style of parenting. They have very few limits, rules, or boundaries with their children and they allow them to do almost anything they want. Feedback from these parents is sporadic and inconsistent, fostering feelings of insecurity and doubt within their children. The message children usually receive is that the parents do not really care very much about them because they do not act as if they really have much responsibility for their children.
Often permissive parents do not hold their children responsible in areas where they need to take accountability, setting them up to become irresponsible adults.

In addition, permissiveness cultivates a feeling of emotional detachment with children, as with the uninvolved style of parenting. Uninvolvement or neglect appears to have the most destructive influence on children resulting in children feeling unloved, unwanted, negatively affecting all aspects of child development.

The current trend of mothers employed outside the home while children are very young causes concern for psychologists, sociologists, and general society. These entities fear that the resultant time limitations of parents may contribute to lack of involvement with their children resulting in detrimental effects to children’s emotional well-being.

However, research on this phenomenon is inconclusive. There are some small differences between the mothering of working mothers vs. non-working mothers, but these are insignificant. Research indicates that other factors, such as fathers’ ability to parent, attitude of the mother, reasons for working, and general socio-economic status play an important role in determining whether the effects of working mothers create a negative and permissive or uninvolved parenting style.


Some characteristics that put children at risk for various clinical disorders are:  emotional distancing; mental, verbal, emotional, and physical abuse; rigidity and too much reserve; lack of boundaries; poor communication skills resulting in harsh, inconsistent and/or lack of feedback from parents; poor listening style; and excessive control. Authoritarian and Permissive parenting styles most often contain the foregoing negative aspects of parenting.

One clinical disorder that often results from abuse suffered as a child is Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Usually, the person with BPD has experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse while young. Even though the ongoing debate of nature vs. nurture continues in this area, studies support findings that people with BPD suffered some kind of abuse early in their lives.

Other parenting style characteristics considered protective factors for clinical disorders are:  tolerance; flexibility; good verbal/listening skills; emotional support, connectedness, and appropriateness. The Authoritative style of parenting most often contains these positive attributes. Any opposing actions of parenting characteristics found in the other three styles, in conjunction with the careful promotion of Authoritative parenting can help protect children from certain clinical disorders and provide greater possibilities for a happy, healthy life.

According to The Four Styles of Parenting by Kendra Cherry, the following are impacts of the various parenting styles:

"What effect do these parenting styles have on child development outcomes? In addition to Baumrind's initial study of 100 preschool children, researchers have conducted numerous other studies than have led to a number of conclusions about the impact of parenting styles on children.
Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.
Authoritative parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable and successful (Maccoby, 1992).
Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers."


        Pushhyarag2000 said...

        This is an interesting article. A very good detailing of the different parenting styles. Seems quite scientific. Except that I am left a little confused about relating it to my own case. I can only consider my parents uninvolved at best. They had their reasons, perfectly justified in hindsight. But I don't see correlation with the impact of that on me in line with the findings cited in the article.

        I'm reflecting on it still. All the same, I have scooped it here:

        PSACHNO said...

        I appreciate your comments. Yes, your perspective is interesting. It might help to ask yourself:

        a. Did you have primary caretakers (grandparents, older siblings, etc.) who were involved with you?

        b. Even though your parents were "uninvolved", did you feel that you were loved?

        c. Are there a few aspects that ring true in your case of uninvolved parenting?

        Psychology is not exact as most of us know. There are always exceptions. So far, I haven't noticed any signs of your being negatively affected by whatever type of parenting you had.

        Thanks for the "scoop", PR!

        Yun Yi said...

        This is interesting. I always think parenting is the most important procedure of life growth. All of these analysis makes total sense to me. However, I think the true love is above all strategies.

        PSACHNO said...

        I agree, Yun Yi. And I think we spend the rest of our lives struggling to overcome the mistakes of our fallible parents.

        Because we are all so unique, I believe that there are some different paths we each much walk; or, in other words, different modalities work with different people. Most of them seem to have pertinent and redeeming aspects to their philosophies.

        So, as you, I also think that so many analyses, so many modalities make sense; they just need to be applied at the right time to the right person.

        No doubt, however: NOTHING CAN SURPASS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AS BEING THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECT OF OUR LIVES, and thereby will have a great impact on the lives of others, especially those whose lives lack that precious gift.

        PSACHNO said...

        If you don't mind sharing, what kind of parenting do you think you had?

        Mine was quite authoritarian...

        Ironically, it seems that, no matter how much our parents try, we still spend most of our lives trying to heal from the mistakes they've made.

        I think all parents make mistakes--no one is perfect...

        In this way, humankind has something in common.

        Yun Yi said...

        mine was both "authoritarian" and "uninvolved", and absence of love on my father side, invisible love on my mother's side. what a mess!

        i think mistakes on "techniques" of parenting is easier for us to overcome than absence of love. one never received "unconditional love" from parents would take so much more to learn self-esteem. i had this post before about my thought over "self-esteem":

        yes, we might spend most of our life to deal with trauma, but also at the same time, we are studying our nature - human nature. what other fields can be so interesting? not a bad deal:-)

        Mindvalley said...

        Keep it Sir and I am waiting for your next post on your site blog.