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What are the different parenting styles?

Reading time: 12 minutes
Written by
| Updated on
February 8, 2024
Reviewed by parenting expert
Mom and Dad have Different Parenting Styles

What you’ll learn

When parents provide a caring and supportive environment, their children tend to thrive in all aspects of their lives. It is important to recognize the parenting practices that lead to these positive outcomes and how different parenting styles can impact a child's well-being and development.

You can recognize a parenting style by paying attention to various factors such as personal childhood experiences, values, and beliefs. It can also be influenced by the culture and society they live in. The cognitive and emotional development of the parent plays significant roles in shaping different parenting styles, which may change as the child grows up.

The 4 common parenting styles according to the scientific approach 

The way parents raise their children can have a big impact on their future. So how many parenting styles are there? 

Psychologist Diana Baumrind identified three different parenting styles – authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative. A fourth style, neglectful or uninvolved, was later added. 

It is crucial to understand the impact of these four parenting styles in order to create nurturing and supportive environments that promote positive outcomes for your children.

1. The Permissive or Indulgent Parent

Permissive parents are those who prioritize their children’s happiness. On the other hand, they provide little structure or rules. They often justify their children’s mistakes with the phrase “kids will be kids” and want to be their child’s friend rather than an educator. 

Although this may seem harmless, it can cause children to feel inadequate as they become more aware of social expectations. Children of permissive parents may struggle with taking responsibility for their actions, blaming others instead, or becoming overly reliant on their parents even as adults.

2. The Authoritative Parent

The balanced or authoritative parenting style is about setting clear boundaries and expectations for children, while using warmth and compassion to discipline them. Parents aim for fairness over control and allow natural consequences to happen. This helps children develop resilience and problem-solving skills.

Such an approach builds trust and creates a supportive environment where children feel heard and understood. Children of authoritative parents tend to grow up to be independent, self-sufficient, goal-oriented adults who are confident, capable, and caring towards others.

3. The Neglectful Or Uninvolved Parent

A neglectful or uninvolved parent is one who has come to master the type of parenting style that can lead to the most negative outcomes for children. Parents who follow these styles show little interest in their children’s needs or education. They may even fail to provide basic necessities like food and healthcare. This extreme form of parenting can result in the child being removed from the family and placed in social care.

Children raised by neglectful parents often have difficulty forming social connections and may experience developmental issues, including low self-esteem, poor academic performance, and mental health problems. These negative effects can continue into adulthood and impact an individual’s ability to form healthy relationships and to function satisfactory in society.

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4. The Authoritarian Parent

The authoritarian parenting style involves strict rules and expectations that children must follow without question. Failing to comply and misbehavior are followed by harsh consequences and punishment. 

This particular parenting style prioritizes obedience over individuality and may discourage children from expressing their thoughts and feelings. Parents often use phrases like “Because I said so!” to justify their rules.

This type of parenting can damage the parent-child relationship by dismissing the child’s opinions and by hindering their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It can also limit the child’s ability to make decisions and advocate for themselves in other areas of life. Moreover, children of authoritarian parents or caregivers who use harsh punishment may develop negative relationships with others.

Of these four types of parenting styles, Authoritative parenting tends to produce children with high self-esteem, good decision-making skills, and positive social relationships. Authoritarian parents may lead to children struggling with self-esteem and decision-making skills, while children of permissive parents may grapple with boundaries and delayed gratification. The most negative outcomes occur as a result of neglectful or uninvolved parenting, leading to children having problems with social connections, low self-esteem, poor academic performance, mental health issues, and forming healthy relationships in adulthood.

9 different parenting styles that are widely recognized 

What are the parenting styles that define today’s families? With a closer look at parenting styles, any of these practices may depend on the situation and context. Cultural and individual differences can also play a role in parenting styles, with variations even within the same family. Besides these 4 most popular parenting styles, there are other 9 different parenting styles that were later expanded and widely recognized.

1. Positive parenting 

A few decades ago, research started focusing on positive human emotions, traits, and behaviors. This shift in focus has helped shape the way we approach education, child behavior and discipline, healthcare, and personal development. Books on parenting and child development now view children as a whole and address important topics such as resilience, self-esteem, learning from failure, optimism, and gratitude.

Positive parenting involves creating a supportive environment that fosters children’s well-being and sets them up for success in life. This includes engaging intentionally in family activities, such as reading, playing games, and doing sports. These activities promote physical, emotional, and cognitive development

Furthermore, positive parenting encourages loving and kind interactions between parents and children, including meaningful conversations about thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Research shows that positive parenting practices promote emotional intelligence in children and foster a positive outlook on life.

👉Gain a scientific perspective on how parents affect their child’s growth, cognition, and social skills. Our eye-opening article, “The Science Behind How Parents Affect Child Development,” is a must-read for all parents seeking to put to great use the impact of different parenting styles on child development.

However, positive parenting can be misinterpreted. Some parents may view it as being permissive, while others might try to force positivity in family interactions. 

This can lead to negative consequences such as an unrealistic sense of reality and inadequate coping skills. Parents should recognize and validate the full range of emotions their children experience, teach them effective coping mechanisms, and model healthy emotional expression. The goal of positive parenting should be to promote emotional intelligence and resilience, rather than simply aiming for a constant state of positivity.

2 Attachment parenting

different parenting styles - mother hugging his little girl

Attachment parenting focuses on building a secure and loving bond between parent and child. These parents adopt practices like skin-to-skin contact, on-demand breastfeeding, and immediate responses to a child’s needs. This approach promotes emotional health and resilience in children and can reduce the risk of behavior problems. 

However, this parenting style requires parents to be highly attentive and responsive to their child’s needs, which can be demanding and lead to social isolation. It is important for parents to balance their child’s needs with their own self-care and adult social connections. 

Attachment parenting can provide a strong foundation for a parent-child bond and effective discipline. On the other hand, it is important to approach it with realistic expectations and to strike a balance between parenting and self-care.

3 Affectionless control 

Controlling parents exhibit behaviors like constant criticism. They tend to ignore their children’s right to privacy and they pressure them into making certain decisions. 

They may also discount their children’s opinions and infantilize them. This can negatively affect their ability to attain independence and self-worth. Controlling parents often use guilt and manipulation, leading to anxiety, fear, and low self-esteem in their children. Their control may not fade away even when kids become of age, causing ongoing distress and conflict. 

It is important to recognize when a parent’s behavior is harmful and to seek help or limit contact if necessary. Children may benefit from therapy to help develop a positive sense of self-worth. Seeking help and support, setting healthy boundaries, and developing independence can help break free from this harmful cycle.

4 Tigers

In recent times, parenting experts have coined new names for different parenting styles, drawing inspiration from the animal kingdom. The examples of animal-inspired parenting styles are tiger, dolphin, and jellyfish

While the terms “tiger mom” and “tiger parenting” are widely recognized, the terms “dolphin parenting” and “jellyfish parenting” are less commonly used. These animal-inspired parenting styles have gained attention in the parenting community for their unique approaches to child-rearing.

Tiger parenting is a strict parenting style that comes with high demands on academic and extracurricular activities, such as music or sports. Failure is not an option, and parents believe that academic achievement reflects successful parenting. 
This rigorous parenting style has garnered attention in recent years due to the belief that it can lead to positive outcomes such as increased competitiveness in the job market. However, it has also been criticized for potentially causing emotional distress, anxiety, and decreased self-esteem in children.

5 Dolphins

Dolphin parenting is a parenting style that closely resembles the authoritative or balanced parenting style. It is named after dolphins, as they are known for a peculiar eccentricity. These intelligent creatures refuse to learn any new tricks unless they create a bond with their trainers. 

Dolphin parents take a collaborative approach, aiming to guide and support their children while also promoting independent choices and creativity. They set achievable and realistic expectations, while encouraging their child to work hard to achieve their goals. This parenting style emphasizes mutual respect, open communication, and positive reinforcement, creating a supportive environment for children to thrive.

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6 Jellyfish

Jellyfish parenting is a style where parents prioritize their children’s desires over their own, with fewer rules and expectations. However, this lack of structure can result in children struggling to fit in with the world around them. They may face difficulties in coping with delayed gratification and making decisions by themselves. 

Despite good intentions, children may feel insecure without clear guidance from their parents. It’s important to note that while jellyfish parenting may seem appealing to children, it can be detrimental to their development and may result in challenges with discipline and enforcing boundaries.

7 Helicopter parenting 

Helicopter parenting is a modern parenting style in which parents constantly monitor their child and solve all their problems. Although parents may have good intentions, their behavior can have unintended negative consequences.

Research has shown that helicopter parenting can have positive effects on a child’s academic achievement and financial stability in adulthood. Adults who practice helicopter parenting are often heavily involved in their child’s education, providing extra academic support and helping with homework, leading to better academic results for their children.

However, the over-involvement of parents can make children feel as though their parents do not trust them to act independently, leading to a lack of self-esteem and confidence. Children of helicopter parents may experience depression and anxiety, as they rely too heavily on their parents for guidance and struggle to make decisions on their own. It is important for parents to find a balance between being involved and allowing their children to make their own choices and learn from their mistakes.

8 Narcissistic parenting 

Narcissistic parenting is a damaging style of parenting that can have lasting effects on a child’s emotional and mental health. Parents who exhibit narcissistic behavior often lack empathy and view their children as extensions of themselves, seeking validation and admiration through their children’s achievements. They may play favorites and pit siblings against each other, causing a sense of disloyalty and difficulty forming healthy relationships. 

While some may argue that they are helping their children develop a sense of motivation, the negative consequences outweigh any perceived benefits. Children of narcissistic parents often feel insecure and inadequate, never feeling good enough and fearing criticism or dismissal when expressing themselves. This can lead to low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

9 Extended community parenting

Alloparenting is raising children with the help of a community

In the past, children were raised with the help of extended family and neighbors. This practice, called alloparenting, played an important role in human evolution. 

Today, modern lifestyles can make it difficult for parents to find the support they need. Developed societies have moved away from communal living, with families now typically living in separate households. This can lead to feelings of isolation and mental strain, particularly for parents who feel overworked and unsupported. 

Connecting with other families through schools and neighborhoods can help build a supportive community around the nuclear family. Seeking help from extended family members such as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins can provide a sense of community and connection for both parents and children. 

Children can benefit from the unique experiences and perspectives of different caregivers. Alloparenting can also promote children’s well-being and help parents manage the demands of modern life more easily.

Why is knowing parenting styles important?

Studies of parenting styles and parent–adolescent relationships show that parents’ interactions with their children can greatly impact  their children’s development and overall health. Being aware of your parenting style can lead to more thoughtful and conscious parenting practices. 

Understanding how different parenting styles manifest, can help parents make more informed decisions about how they interact with their children, set boundaries, and discipline them. We saw that extreme styles, like being too permissive or overly strict, can have the most significant impact. It is also true that finding a balance between the two can be challenging, especially for busy parents with packed schedules. 

However, by recognizing the potential impact of different parenting styles on child development and well-being, parents can strive to create a positive and nurturing environment for their children. Ultimately, being mindful of one’s parenting style can lead to healthier, more positive relationships between parents and children.

Conclusion 

The impact of parenting styles on child development is, without a doubt, major. Parenting styles wield a significant influence on child development. Adopting a mindful parenting approach can contribute to cultivating stronger bonds with your children, fostering positive relationships, and enhancing communication. This encompasses establishing attainable expectations, providing guidance and support, and creating avenues for learning and growth.

Moreover, we extend a warm invitation to our complimentary online parenting masterclass, How to Get Kids to Listen? 5 Steps to Get What You Want from Your Child Without Getting Angry or Giving in. Through our online classes, you’ll delve deeper into the art of infusing mindfulness into your parenting practices. You’ll uncover a treasure trove of techniques aimed at nurturing your patience and focus, ready to gracefully navigate any parenting challenge that comes your way.

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Patrick Ney
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Patrick Ney

Patrick Ney is a Neurodevelopmental Specialist who has been working with parents at All About Parenting for 5 years. He is husband to Maja and father to 2 beautiful daughters, Zofia and Mia. Patrick joined All About Parenting, determined to become a better parent before becoming a Certified Trainer. To date, he has run over 1000 workshops, events, and masterclasses for more than 100,000 parents.

Patrick is certified in a range of other methodologies, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Solution Focused Brief Therapy, and the HANDLE Methodology for neurodiverse children. He is a Certified DIR Floortime Practitioner and has been described as a ‘natural born play therapist.’ Patrick bases his work with parents on neuroscience, studying Applied Neuroscience at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London. Patrick has appeared as a TEDx speaker, and his first book, ‘The Storm: How To Stop Shouting At Your Kids’ will be published in Autumn 2022.

But more than anything else, Patrick is a father. His love for his daughters has led him on a journey to being a better dad for his girls and sharing that story with other parents. His work inspires thousands of parents to start learning parenting, and he shares both his successes and his many failures.

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