Parentalk: What are children's parenting styles?
How do you like to treat your children? Do you think their wishes and opinions matter or do you think they are too young to decide anything? Would you rather give them the toy they have been insisting on or let them earn it?
It is astounding how all of us have varying views with respect to raising children. The diversity in parenting stems from the difference in cultural backgrounds, socio-economic status, and beliefs. Parenting approaches also evolve based on exposure to modern methods, access to information, and change in family structure.
Parenting approaches differ based on how parents interact with their children and guide them. The inner voice that a child develops, their morals, beliefs, and principles, are affected directly by the parenting style that their parents adopt.
According to experts, there are four major parenting styles and the others are subsets of these major styles. These are authoritarian, permissive, authoritative, and uninvolved parenting styles.
Parents may also follow hybrid parenting styles that are a mix of styles from 2 or more of these major styles. Sometimes parents pick up practices from different styles based on the situation.
Here are the styles and how they affect children:
The style: The parents that follow this parenting style have the primary say and upper hand in the relationship. Communication is one-way, and the parents set rules for children to abide by. These rules are normally non-negotiable and the children cannot question the reasoning behind them. When children cannot abide by the rules, they are usually subjected to punishment. The levels of punishment vary based on family and can range from losing privileges to physical punishment. Authoritarian parents rarely believe in comforting the children when they are hurt or scared but have high expectations of them. They are critical when the child doesn’t act according to their expectations.
How it impacts the children: The children raised by authoritarian parents are well-behaved and disciplined. This stems from the fear of consequences. They perform better at tasks that involve following instructions. However, such a parenting style may lead to low self-esteem, aggression, social awkwardness, and other negative personality traits in the child. Poor anger management, anxiety, and depression are some of the serious repercussions of such a style. Because of strict rules and the inability to express themselves, the children may grow up to be rebels.
The style: The authoritative parenting style is quite the opposite of the authoritarian style. The parents following this approach believe in nurturing their children by forming close bonds with them and giving them equal rights and say in the relationship. This, however, doesn’t mean that they do not set boundaries. Authoritative parents set boundaries but also explain the reason for the rules and actions to the children. They are open to communication and negotiation and consider the child’s emotional response to a certain rule. Their approach to discipline doesn’t involve punishment and one-way expectations. Authoritative parents encourage the child to be independent with daily chores as well as general decision-making. With consistency in efforts, this parenting style can ensure the healthiest outcomes. Gentle parenting also falls into this category.
How it impacts the children: Children of parents who follow the authoritative parenting approach are confident and develop self-control as they grow up. They take responsibility for their actions and effectively manage their emotions. The style is associated with better emotional health and good social connections. High self-esteem, better academic performance, calmer relationships, and an optimistic approach are some outcomes of an authoritative parenting style.
The style: Permissive parenting style is sometimes confused with authoritative parenting. However, it is different when it comes to boundaries. Permissive parents hardly impose any rules or set any boundaries. They let the children be free with respect to decision making and also tend to all their demands. They have minimum expectations with children and are open to communicating. In this approach, there is minimal focus on discipline and parents try to be friends with their children.
How it impacts the children: Most children whose parents follow the permissive parenting style are confident and abound with self-esteem. They are also able to foster decent social connections. However, the absence of rules can make them lack self-control. The lack of moderation or word of caution from parents may mean unhealthy snacking habits, not enough sleep, out-of-control screen times, lack of regard for others and their boundaries, etc. Giving in to all demands may also lead to selfish and demanding individuals.
The style: Uninvolved parents offer the most freedom to their children and let them figure out their lives themselves. They facilitate the necessities but do not have any attachment to the child’s life. Communication is limited and so is nurturing. There are no discipline approaches followed too. This approach stems from the belief that children are better off by themselves or they’d be dependent on their parents forever. Also, parents who resent parenthood for any reason resort to this approach. It is also called the neglectful parenting style.
How it impacts the children: Research shows that children of uninvolved parents fare poorly on many aspects, such as self-regulation, social responsibility, feeling loved, etc. They may exhibit resilience and self-sufficiency, but the circumstances under which they develop these skills have a poor impact on their mental health. They also find it difficult to cope with situations because of the lack of guidance regarding the same. Their social relationships suffer and they may also fall prey to bullying and injustice.
Parenting styles not only determine the overall personality and mental health of children, but also their physical health. The impact of upbringing on the child’s personality can be seen clearly in their interactions, self-esteem, approach, behavior, and actions. Parents need to know that the healthy growth and development of their child depends on the way they parent. Being conscious of their actions helps parents to be receptive to the child’s needs and ensures healthier outcomes.
While research has shown authoritative parenting style to be the best, do not be harsh with yourself if you do not identify with being an authoritative parent. Know how your behavior affects your child and make changes accordingly.
Smriti is a freelance content writer and an avid reader. She quit her 6 year-long IT career to embrace her love for writing. She writes content across genres and takes pride in her ability to research and carve magic with words. She passionately writes about parenting and is currently working on her book. When not writing or reading, she can be seen running behind any of her 2 kids or learning Deutsch.