Comparison of Permissive and Authoritative Parenting Styles

Parents have different parenting styles. Kids don't come with a handbook, unfortunately, and there's no perfect parenting style. However, some methods do work better than others. Parenting styles usually end up being a blend of mom's style and dad's style. If both parents have two entirely different styles of parenting, they might end up disagreeing on which style is better. Which type are you -- do you always enforce the rules or give in at the first sight of a quivery lip and the sound of "Pleeeease?"

Authoritative Style

In an authoritative parenting style, parents discipline in a firm and consistent, but fair manner. They set rules and explain them to their child so that the youngster knows what is expected. Authoritative parents know children need love, but they are also aware that they need rules and limits. Authoritative parents don't give in to the "sad, puppy dog face" but they do respond to their child's needs. They exercise the right amount of control and have a good relationship with their kids. Authoritative style parents have fair expectations of their child and they reward their children when they meet those expectations. Authoritative parents enforce discipline when their little ones misbehave, but they do so with care and concern. An authoritative parent that places her child in time out will make sure the toddler knows why she is there. Authoritative style parents communicate clearly with their child, setting rules and explaining why they are necessary.

Permissive Style

Permissive style parents give kids lots of love, but little structure. These parents are often loving and great fun, but not so great parents. They act more like a friend to their child than a parent. Being a friend isn't necessarily a bad thing, but permissive style parents have difficulty exerting any control with their child. They often have no control at all. They have a hard time accepting their role as a disciplinarian. Permissive parents may not set limits and if they do make rules, they usually don't follow through with discipline. Permissive parents often let the child do what she wants to do as long as it doesn't jeopardize her safety. They also tend to use bribery when they want their child to do something. You may recognize permissive parents by their general lack of control. The mom with the screaming toddler who is kicking her in the leg says, "If you stop kicking Mommy, I'll buy you some candy." Permissive parents may complain that their child walks all over them, but they don't do anything to change the child's behavior.

Children of Authoritative Parents

According to the University of Idaho, the authoritative parenting style teaches kids good attributes such as honesty, responsibility, compassion and problem-solving skills. Children that are raised by authoritative parents are generally happy and healthy with a good dose of self esteem. Their parents are usually positive role models that instill in their kids a strong sense of right and wrong. They teach their children self control and how to be independent. Authoritative parents teach their kids to be responsible and to think about the consequences of their actions. Authoritative parenting promotes a supportive environment with a mutual understanding between parents and children.

Children of Permissive Parents

Children that are raised by permissive parents may have difficulty adjusting to the world outside of their family and home life, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. These children know no boundaries to their behavior. Children of permissive parents have difficulty learning cooperation and may feel insecure. If you are a permissive parent, you may have a child that says, "I said we're going to the park today," or "I want ice cream and I want it now." If you're permissive in your parenting style, you'll probably give in and take your tot to the park or buy the ice cream. Children raised in a permissive style are often demanding and disrespectful. These children may also be impulsive and display anti-social behavior.

No Perfect Parent or Child

Don't worry -- you're not a bad parent if your child has an occasional temper tantrum or tries to get her way once in a while. That's just a typical day in the life of any parent. There's no perfect parent or child. Parenting is a learning experience. Find what works for you and stick with it. It's fine to give your child choices and a certain level of freedom, as long as it doesn't compromise her health or safety. However, too much freedom and the ability to make her own choices all the time only sets you and your child up for failure. Good parenting is a happy medium that is balanced with love and boundaries.