How Parenting Styles Affect Children

Although parenting is greatly influenced by time, culture, past experiences and other important factors, the correct method of parenting continues to be a hot-topic debate among many. A child’s first impressions of how to behave in society are largely based on what their parents did or didn’t do as far as how the parents went through the motions of parenting.

Parents who have endured poor parenting from their own parents do not have to follow the same pattern when they become parents. It is possible to largely succeed in raising healthy and well-adjusted children.

Children are very vulnerable and tend to develop their sense of self and confidence if they have parents who manage to show them love without turning them into brats. Child psychologists and parenting experts explain that there is more than one way to parent.

Read on to discover exactly how parenting styles affect children.

So How Many Styles of Parenting Are There Anyway?

There are many types of parenting terms, but a trailblazing developmental psychologist by the name of Diana Baumrind began a research study of over 100 children of preschool ages in the early years of the 1960s. She essentially narrowed parenting styles into 3 common ones.

The 3 main parenting style categories include:

  • 1. Authoritarian
  • 2. Permissive
  • 3. Authoritative

Today, psychologists still use her work when determining which parenting style a parent or couple has. Later, other researchers, by the names of John Martin and Eleanor Maccoby, added a fourth parenting style category.

This fourth parenting style is called:

  • 4. Neglectful or Uninvolved

Why Developmental Psychologists Began Studying Parental Styles

Developmental psychologists seek to understand how people are impacted by various factors. These professionals are more interested in the relationships that impact behavior and other life processes.

As every person is unique and tend to have specific character traits and personalities, it is only fair to assume that when these individuals become parents they may differ in their parental approaches as well.

The researchers and psychologists sought to categorize parenting approaches or styles, and then they looked at how each different parenting style in turn causes negative or positive influences on their children.

Continue on for an in-depth breakdown of each parenting category and how each one influences the kids that they are parenting. Both positive and negative influences and changes will also be addressed.


Most people will recognize an authoritarian parenting style by its tendency for strict rules and compliant children even if they do not know the name itself. In generations past, this was by far the most common style of parenting. In this parenting type, children are usually taught to be seen but not heard.

Rather harsh and frequent discipline is a major factor of this parenting style. This style can be labeled on the lines of it is always the parent’s way and not the child’s. There is usually a rule for everything in the most intense cases.

Another common element in a true authoritarian parenting style is that children are expected to obey their parent’s, teacher’s or other authority in their life without question or hesitation. Parents that fall into this parenting style typically do not believe that the child has to understand why they are to obey, as the kids are taught that authority figures are to be respected and obeyed at all times.


  • Kids learn to respect authority.
  • Overall child behavior is compliant or “good.”
  • The child knows what to expect.
  • Rules and structure support overall development.


  • Kids of authoritarian parents often suffer from anxiety.
  • The child isn’t given opportunities to learn from their mistakes.
  • These children tend to associate love and caring with blind obedience.
  • It’s common for kids to have low self-esteem.
  • These children are usually unhappy much of the time.


At the other far end of the parenting spectrum, a permissive parenting style may seem like a dream come true for kids at least in the beginning. In this parenting category, the parents often act more like a “friend” than the parent and authority figure.

Most of these parents feel that by limiting rules and blurring the lines regarding acceptable behavior allows their child to become independent and happier than kids whose parents take a stricter and more authoritarian approach.

Permissive parents in general do not enforce certain boundaries of behavior and will rarely take disciplinary action even if the child is behaving in an unacceptable manner. Unlike authoritarian parents, permissive parents would rather see their kids happy and free from disciplinary shackles of any sort. Some parenting experts may call this “indulgent” parenting.


  • This parenting method promotes a child’s freedom, free-thought and unhindered happiness.
  • Permissive parents enjoy communicating and connecting with their kids.
  • Parents are often seen as warm and loving by others.


  • These kids have difficulty self-regulating & rarely learn actions have bad consequences.
  • Many children raised too permissively will have strong issues with authority.
  • Most of the kids are insecure and have issues with inner self-confidence.
  • Some children will turn to crime and delinquent behavior.


Parents who use an authoritative approach to parenting tend to create structure for their kids. However, this style of parenting is not as harsh and demanding as parents who practice an authoritarian parenting style.

Another big difference is that authoritative parents will encourage their children to engage in open and respectful conversations about house or behavioral rules and regulations. Some parenting experts will call this parenting type a more democratic and/or nurturing approach to parenting overall.

These parents are very responsive to their kids, and there is room for changing a rule or giving extra rewards or privileges if a child shows growth in an area. The authoritative style of parenting helps promote self-regulation, encourages independence and fosters greater responsibility. In this style of parenting, children have a voice, but the parents are still in charge. These kids tend to turn out well-adjusted, happy and confident overall.


  • Parents explain the rules and disciplinary actions when required.
  • Kids are usually less likely to buck the rules when they are seen as fair and loving.
  • There is usually a stronger and deeper child-parent connection and relationship.
  • Kids get a sense of right and wrong.
  • The child learns from their mistakes.
  • Parents use more positive parenting approaches than negative ones.
  • Children tend to develop positive traits and skills such as independence, self-regulation and greater responsibility over time.
  • Parents lead by example & kids develop important social and relationship skills.


  • No two kids are exactly the same – even when they are siblings.
  • Parents may face challenges with this parental approach if their child has behavioral issues or special needs.

Neglectful or Uninvolved

This fourth parenting style tends to be the exact opposite of a strict authoritarian parenting type. Unlike parents who practice permissive parenting and/or authoritative parenting, a parent that is mostly uninvolved with any meaningful parenting and/or falls into gross neglectful parenting really lacks insight into their children’s life other than surface information.

These parents tend to ignore behaviors or characteristic traits, and these parents do not understand the emotional, mental and physical needs of each kid. Unlike full-blown abusive parents, the neglectful or uninvolved parent does meet the children’s most basic living and survival needs. These include food, shelter, clothing, medical care and so forth. However, these parents rarely take the time to connect with their kids in their daily life activities.

The uninvolved parent will fall on one or the other end of the variation spectrum. This means that one parent may just be distracted by work, mental illness or some other factor while another parent may have a tendency to purposely avoid their kids on a regular basis.


  • It’s hard to find any true benefit from neglectful or uninvolved parenting approaches.
  • Some parents may change with positive intervention & professional parenting education.


  • The child has no real meaningful relationship with this type of parent.
  • Usually reports low self-esteem & deep unhappiness.
  • Most kids will have challenges relating to others & problems with communication and relationships.
  • These kids often lack self-regulatory skills, motivation or independence development.

Conclusion & Final Thoughts

Parents need to understand that there aren’t any perfect parents, and most parents will find that their parenting styles overlap in some areas. Most developmental psychologists agree that parents should strive to become authoritative in their parenting approach when possible. Parenting is one of the most important and challenging jobs you will ever do.

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