What are 4 Main Parenting Styles (And Which One is Best?)
By Dr Becky Spelman
When it comes to raising your child, your parenting style is everything. The way you interact with your child and the boundaries you set will have a huge bearing on how they approach life. It’s something you need to get right. There are no second chances. Once you’re so far down the line, it can be quite hard to undo what you’ve already set in place. It’s much harder to unlearn a set of negative traits than it is to work from a blank slate. Your parenting style will dictate your child’s self-esteem, coping skills, and how far they’re able to take their talents.
Here are the four main styles:
This style is the most rigid. If you’re this type of parent, you may have a certain amount of disdain for children. The thinking here is that they should be seen and not heard. You believe that kids should show absolute obedience to their parents without fail. It’s non-negotiable. But it can often lead to refusal to admit being wrong, causing unnecessary resentment. If you’ve ever found yourself saying, ‘because I said so,’ on more than one occasion, this is a hallmark an authoritarian approach. It creates a fractious relationship. There is no middle-ground, or no attempt to problem-solve. The first resort you take will usually be to punish. It may work in the short-term, but later life that child may have self-esteem issues or develop a rebellious streak.
The authoritative approach is not to be confused with the authoritarian, although it does share some similar qualities. The authoritative approach is what the authoritarian should be. The key difference in this style is the parent enforces rules, but also explains why they’re in place. It teaches respect and helps create a value system. If this is your style, you’ll likely go out of your way not to belittle your child when they’ve done something wrong. You’ll display a great of empathy and emotional intelligence when you’re dealing with them, and acknowledge that they’re a living breathing person. Preventative measures will also be a big part of your approach as well as positive reinforcements and rewards to incentivise good behaviour.
If you’re a permissive parent, you’re typically very liberal. The maxim that kids will be kids is something that would accurately depict your style. You’re willing to let a lot of things slide, and let your child make their own mistakes. But when it comes to serious business, you’ll step and enforce the rules. The more authoritative parent will stick to their guns. But it can be case that you can only stand so much begging from your child before you relent. The problem with permissive parents is that they’re more of a friend than a mentor. This makes creating boundaries hard and can lead to a child struggling with authority later in life and displaying poor self-control.
This is the most detached style. This style allows the child to essentially raise themselves. The uninvolved parent will take little to no interest in their child, and as a result, there will be few rules. In fact, you could think of this parenting style as a form of neglect. There is virtually no time of attention given to the raising of the child in an uninvolved dynamic. However, it isn’t always the fault of the parent. Their style could be circumstantial rather than a deliberate method. If a single parent is working unsociable hours, it could mean there is no time for meaningful interactions. But then there might be other factors involved. Substance abuse issues, and mental health issues and an inability to cope might be the root of parent presenteeism. Children who have this kind of upbringing are prone to low self-esteem and may perform poorly in school.
Which Approach Is Best?
There is no one size fits all approach to parenting. You need to be adaptive. People change, and you need to acknowledge the maturity of your child as they grow up. You need to tailor your approach for each situation. The two styles that are the lest helpful are the authoritarian and the uninvolved style. They’re on the two far ends of the extremes.
The best all-round approach would be a blend between the authoritative and permissive styles. You need to strike a balance of letting your child be themselves and go on a journey of self-discovery. But you also need to strong enough to pull them back and help them make better decisions for themselves. The most important aspect of your parenting style is not to recreate the same dramas you experienced growing up.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.
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Webmd. (2018) When Parenting Styles Differ. Retrieved on 11th December, 2019 from,
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