The 3 Types of Parenting Styles

Parental actions affect children’s behavior and growth. Isolated behaviors have less impact than each parent’s general pattern of certain traits. Though every individual parenting method is slightly different, several major general styles can be identified. Find which parenting style -- or combination of styles -- you use at home 2.


Permissive parents typically exercise little control of their children’s behavior. More responsive than demanding, they tend to be lenient and give in to children’s wishes and demands. Also known as indulgent parents, permissive parents often avoid confrontation with children by ignoring bad behavior instead of giving punishments. This style sometimes begins in an attempt to earn children’s esteem or a belief that discipline will have no effect on already rowdy children. Children of permissive parents, given freedom and much attention at home, can become unsuccessful students and demanding people. They often lack a sense of responsibility and may have difficulty in relationships.


Children of authoritarian parents receive little to no freedom, and live in ordered environments with clear, non-negotiable rules. Authoritarian parents, demanding and unresponsive, are more concerned with obedience than with children’s opinions or feelings, and any questioning of rules will more likely be met with an answer such as “Because I said so” than with an explanation or discussion. Authoritarian parents focus on control and power, sometimes to the point of intrusion. They use punishments or verbal abuse readily and focus repeatedly on what children do wrong. Though this may yield well-behaved children -- often out of fear -- children may alternately rebel against such strict control.


An authoritative or democratic parenting style is based largely on the ideas of respect and balance among parents and children. Authoritative parents are simultaneously demanding and responsive, assertive but not intrusive. They set high expectations and clear rules for children while providing affection and emotional support. Their children are able to make choices within reasonable limits; this allows children freedom while teaching them responsibility for their choices. Authoritative parents will listen to children’s opinions, especially regarding decisions of well-being, but they will explain their own stances and stand by them when necessary. This parenting style tends to yield confident and self-motivated children who are good students and leaders.


Some experts believe there to be a fourth parenting style: “uninvolved” or “passive,” which is more of a lack of parenting method than a method itself. Uninvolved parenting is close to complete neglect; these parents are neither demanding nor responsive, and they can even be rejecting in the most extreme situations, according to psychology professor Nancy Darling. Uninvolved parents don’t set rules for children, offer emotional support or otherwise get involved in their children’s lives. Such parenting involves sometimes a complete surrender of discipline, in which case children have extreme freedom to govern themselves. Children raised by this method are likely to be poor students, followers, troublemakers, impetuous or clingy.