The Ultimate Guide to Parenting Styles (#4 is Best for Your Kids)

As soon as they came into the world, you were a goner. 

Looking at the precious bundle in your arms, you suddenly understood why children are called “a gift from God.”

But this is one gift that comes with heavy strings.

Your kids’ health and success depends on you, and though you love them to pieces, sometimes the weight of responsibility feels crushing.

Unfortunately, your children didn’t come with a handbook, so what you do as a parent comes from:

  • Parenting styles you’ve absorbed from society,
  • What your parents did with you,
  • And sheer experimentation.

But how do you know you’re doing it right? 

How do you ensure that your kids end up happy, healthy, and thriving, rather than pogoing off into crazy land?

How do you throw off your fears and anxieties to become the amazing parent your kids deserve?

Does somebody have a map for you to follow?

Turns out, yes: the “Parenting Styles Map.” 

There IS a map to the parenting styles! Find it in this parenting styles articles. Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

You see, parenting tends to fall into a handful of major styles. 

Typically, researchers recognize four traditional styles plus a more recent “bonus” style we’ll discuss later in this post.

And there is substantial evidence that one style of parenting out of all the parenting styles tends to produce well-adjusted children more often than the other three.

Do you know what those parenting styles are, which style is best for you and your kids, and which style(s) YOU use most often?

If not, take a look:

In This Article

  • The Creation of Parenting Styles: Baumrind Parenting Styles
  • The Authoritarian Parenting Style
  • The Permissive Parenting Style 
  • The Neglectful Parenting Style 
  • The Authoritative Parenting Style 
  • Bonus: The Helicopter Parenting Style 
  • Cultural Implications of Parenting Styles
  • Quizzes for Each Parenting Style

Who Invented Parenting Styles? The Baumrind Parenting Styles 

In the 1960s, German-American developmental psychologist and researcher Diana Baumrind first came up with the concept of parenting styles.

After conducting research on 100 preschoolers and parents, studying parental discipline strategies, communication styles, levels of warmth and nurture, and behavioral expectations, Baumrind recognized three distinct parenting styles. 

What are the 3 main parenting styles, according to Baumrind? 

  1. Authoritarian parenting
  2. Permissive parenting
  3. Authoritative parenting

You could say that these 3 Baumrind parenting styles correspond to the famous story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. 

Think of it as: Authoritarian parenting is “too hot,” Permissive parenting is “too cold,” while Authoritative parenting is “just right.” 

Hold Your Horses. I Thought There Were More Parenting Styles?

The Baumrind parenting styles only mention three styles. But most people mention a fourth style…what happened to it? What are the 4 types of parenting styles? 

Well, in 1983, psychologists Maccoby and Martin expanded the three original Baumrind parenting styles using a two-dimensional framework:

  1. Parental responsiveness: how well parents respond to their child’s needs.
  2. Parental demandingness: how much parents expect of their children.

Based on this new framework, Maccoby and Martin came up with a fourth parenting style: 

4. Neglectful parenting

And that brings us to the Four Parenting Styles we have today. 

Take a look at this parenting styles chart. We move from less to more responsive as we go from left to right, and less to more demanding as we go from the bottom to the top:

The traditional 4 parenting styles chart. Graphic by Sarah of

In other words:

  • Authoritarian parents are high in “demandingness” and low in “responsiveness”
  • Neglectful parents are low in both “demandingness” and “responsiveness”
  • Permissive parents are low in “demandingness” but high in “responsiveness,” and
  • Authoritative parents are high in both “demandingness” and “responsiveness.”

These parenting styles sometimes go by other names, but the basic concept remains the same. 

So the big question is: which style of parenting do YOU use? 

1. Parenting Styles: Authoritarian — We are Tiger Parents, Hear Us Roar!

In 2011, Yale law professor and author Amy Chua set off a firestorm of debate with the publication of her infamous book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

In the memoir, Chua recounts raising her two over-achieving, straight-A-earning, musical-instrument-playing daughters using controversial parenting techniques such as:

  • Banning TV, computer games, sleepovers and playdates.
  • Insisting on hours of musical practice daily, including on weekends, holidays, and vacations.
  • Threatening to burn her daughters’ stuffed animals if they practiced poorly.

You may be wondering: Is this a legitimate form of parenting, or was Amy Chua a few butcher knives short of a horror movie?

Either way, Chua’s parenting style as described in her book definitely tends toward what the experts would call “Authoritarian Parenting.”

Parenting Styles Chart: Authoritarian

Parenting styles: authoritarian. Graphic by Sarah of

Hallmarks of an Authoritarian Parenting Style

The word “authoritarian” comes from the Latin root “author” which means “master” or “leader.” 

Not surprisingly, authoritarian parenting, also known as “propagative parenting,” believes in the total authority of the parent — the master of the family.

Authoritarian parents have high expectations for their child’s behavior, and low responsiveness to children’s feelings and ideas. 

Authoritarian Parenting is also known as “Disciplinarian,” but the name is deceptive. 

Rather than “discipline,” authoritarian parents offer punishment instead of discipline as a behavior modification strategy, usually with little to no explanation.

Authoritarian parents expect kids to follow their rules, with little room for error or choice. They are low in warmth and nurture and tend to be harsh when correcting their children. 

Authoritarian parents rule using fear and power and tend to be strongly status-oriented. While they offer needed structure and high expectations, their methods create enormous pressure for their kids, which can lead to unfortunate results.

How do the Children of Authoritarian Parents Turn Out? Effects of Parenting Styles on Children’s Behavior

Researchers have found that the children of Authoritarian Parents do tend to be more obedient, overall, but that obedience comes at a price

Many kids from Authoritarian Families suffer from self esteem issues and some even become hostile or aggressive, treating other people the way they are treated at home.

Because children of Authoritarian parents associate obedience and success with love, they tend to conform easily. 

At the same time, once they are grown, such children may struggle with self discipline and setting limits, because they’ve never experienced natural consequences of their decisions, only artificially meted-out punishments. 

Authoritarian parenting can produce children who are overly fearful or shy around others, and have difficulty in social situations. Depression and anxiety are also common ailments for children of authoritarian parents.

The authoritarian parenting style can produce overly fearful children. Photo by JJ Jordan on Unsplash

Parenting Styles Quiz: Are you an Authoritarian Parent?

Was Amy Chua a true Authoritarian Parent? 

Some say yes, pointing to her loss of temper and rigid insistence on rule-following. Others say no, citing her willingness to back off after her second daughter declared war on her parenting style. 

But the real question is: Are you an authoritarian parent? Here’s how you can find out:

  • Do you rarely explain the reason for your rules, putting off your childrens’ questions with some form of “because I said so”?
  • Do you expect great things of your children and frequently compare them to a strict standard that may or may not involve peers’ high-achieving children?
  • Do you resonate with statements such as: “my way or the highway,” “kids should be seen and not heard,” and “tough love is best for my child”?
  • Do you believe there is no difference between punishment and discipline?
  • Do you use shame, criticism, and/or corporal punishment to teach your child to behave?

If you agree with 3 or more of these statements, authoritarian parenting may be one of your major parenting styles.

But change is possible. 

If you’d like to become less of a “tiger parent,” take the time to get to know your child and his or her true strengths and weaknesses, rather than holding him or her up to an impossible standard. 

Learn to discipline rather than punish, allowing children to misbehave and suffer the natural consequences of that misbehavior. Continue to guide your child, but with wisdom rather than harshness. 

Then you will be able to overcome an authoritarian orientation and spare your kids the fate of low self-control and self-discipline as adults.

While Authoritarian parenting may be all about “putting the fear of God” into the hearts of children, the next style of parenting is its mirror opposite. 

2. Parenting Styles: Permissive — The Dangers of Chocolate Bon Bons & Being Your Kids’ BFF

In the novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, main character Charlie inherits a magical chocolate factory after his competitors (who’ve been spoiled by their parents) are eliminated when they ignore chocolatier Willy Wonka’s warnings about staying away from the candy:

  • One boy is sucked away via glass pipe
  • Another girl is tossed by squirrels down a trash chute
  • Another boy is shrunk by TV rays
  • And the last girl turns into a giant blueberry 

Although the writer of this book certainly had a “wonk-y” imagination, this particular novel rings of truth: 

In many ways, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory can be read as a cautionary tale against permissive parenting.

Parenting Styles Chart: Permissive

Parenting styles: Permissive. Graphic by Sarah of

What Defines a Permissive Parent?

Permissive parenting is also known as “indulgent parenting.” 

Permissive parents are warm and accepting, and believe in open communication. But they refuse to have high expectations, preferring to let their kids “figure it out on their own.” 

(Some) Permissive parents do have house rules…but they just don’t enforce them. There are no consequences for misbehavior, because parents are afraid of thwarting their child’s sense of self. 

Some permissive parents may be too busy to keep a close eye on their children, others may be attempting to compensate for what they perceived as their own overly-strict upbringing. 

As a result, permissive parents have few behavioral expectations of their kids, and try to act more as a friend than a parent. They tend to give their children anything they want, and hesitate to refuse them anything.

How do Children of Permissive Parents Turn Out? Effects of Parenting Styles on Children’s Behavior

Jusst like the ill-behaved children got in trouble when they visited Wonka’s factory, so too do real-life children of permissive parents often end up suffering more when they grow up. 

Children of Permissive Parents are more likely to struggle academically, suffer from behavioral problems, resent authority and rules, have low self esteem, and have issues with obesity, dental health, and sadness. 

They tend to be more impulsive and less self-disciplined, are more at risk for dangerous behaviors like drug addiction and alcoholism, and display low achievement in multiple areas of life.

In other words: Without healthy structure and discipline early in life, children of permissive parents are poised to fail when they become adults.

The permissive parenting style teaches children to become impulsive low achievers. Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Parenting Styles Quiz: Are You a Permissive Parent?

How do you know if you a permissive parent? Test yourself against these quiz descriptions:

  • Do you set rules for your kids, but rarely enforce them?
  • Would you rather be your child’s friend than their parent?
  • Do you frequently use bribes and rewards to get your kid to behave?
  • Do you provide little to no structure or schedule for your kids at home?
  • Do you resonate with statements such as: “kids will be kids,” “love is all that matters” and “they know what they want, let them do it”?

If you agree with 3 or more of these statements, permissive parenting is likely one of your major parenting styles.

To counter the negativie effects of permissive parenting, set up a few basic, reasonable rules for your children to follow, and enforce them. 

Remember that kids don’t just need loving care, they also need healthy discipline. Because without it, they won’t learn to discipline themselves in the future. 

So take a deep breath, and resist the temptation to give in when your children cry or complain. Remember: You’re doing this for their good.

Similar to Permissive parenting, but perhaps one level worse, this next parenting style also involves granting kids a great deal of freedom, but for a very different reason…

3. Parenting Styles: Neglectful — Bunny Rabbits Make Bad Parents?

They may look cuddly, but they DON’T make good parents — at least not by human standards. 

Bunny rabbits are known for having lots of babies…and then abandoning them as soon as they are born. 

Rabbit mothers only visit their offspring once in a while for up to 25 days, at which point the kids are on their own.

Obviously, most human parents are not quite this bad. But one of the major parenting styles follows Mama Rabbit’s philosophy of “live and let live” more than the other three:

The Neglectful Parenting Style.

Parenting Styles Chart: Neglectful

Parenting Styles: Neglectful. Graphic by Sarah of

What is Neglectful Parenting?

Neglectful parenting is sometimes known as “Uninvolved” parenting.

In Neglectful homes, there are few rules, little structure, and not much nurture or guidance. Neglectful parents fully expect children to raise themselves, like baby bunnies in the wild.

Neglectful parents are generally detached, preoccupied, and absorbed in anything but their children’s needs. 

Children of Neglectful parents receive little warmth and care. After fulfilling basic physical needs, Neglectful parents demand nothing of their kids, and expect to be left alone in return.

Communication is minimal to nonexistent in Neglectful homes, and so is emotional connection and supervision. 

Often, parents become neglectful because they lack parenting knowledge or are overwhelmed with other tasks. Single parents tend to be more at risk of becoming neglectful parents, due to exhaustion and overwhelm.

On the other hand, some Neglectful parents intentionally avoid their children, seeing them as a nuisance or burden. Often, these types of parents were themselves neglected as children.

How do Children of Neglectful Parents Turn Out? Effects of Parenting Styles on Children’s Behavior

Unsurprisingly, children of Neglectful Parents do the worst across the board in all life domains, compared to children raised with the other three parenting styles.

Neglectfully parented children tend to do badly in school, exhibit frequent behavior problems, and end up low on the happiness scale. 

These children tend to be independent, emotionally withdrawn, and even fearful of becoming dependent on other people. 

They lack self control and self esteem, and struggle to integrate into society later in life. 

Sadly, many of them grow up to find themselves repeating the same patterns that their parents used on them.

Parenting Styles Quiz: Are you a Neglectful Parent?

If you’ve taken the time to read this article to this point, it’s unlikely that you are a neglectful parent. So feel free to take this quiz on behalf of that other parent that you know…

  • You provide basic physical necessities like food and shelter but generally ignore your kids’ need for time, attention, affection, and guidance.
  • You don’t usually know where your kids are, what they’re up to, or how they’re doing with school.
  • You rarely spend time with your kids, preferring to let them do whatever they wish as long as they’re not bothering you.
  • You barely think of yourself as a parent. Other roles are far more important to you. 
  • When you feel overwhelmed by the demands of life and parenthood, you shut down and don’t try to get back in the game. 

If you agree with 3 or more of these statements, permissive parenting is likely one of your major parenting styles.

The neglectful parenting style means leaving kids to fend for themselves. Photo by Fabian Mardi on Unsplash

Baby bunnies are designed to survive on their own not long after birth, but human children are different. 

That’s why it’s perfectly fine for a mother bunny to give birth and then hop off to do her own thing, but for a human parent to do the same can mean lifelong injury to a child.

Of the three styles, permissive parenting is potentially the most harmful, and children of permissive parents have a tough task to overcome the severe social-emotional handicaps their parents leave them with, if they want to become good parents and adults later in life.

So if you have any permissive parenting tendencies, take the time to care for your examine yourself and pay more attention to your children so that they will not suffer the consequences of early neglect.

Our fourth parenting style is the polar opposite of Neglectful Parenting, and, is known as thee healtheist of all the parenting styles we’ve gone through so far:

4. Parenting Style: Authoritative — The Super Parenting Style! 

John and Melora Wischmeyer were at the end of their rope. Their four-year-old twins, Alaia and Ashlyn, drove them nuts every day — screaming, fighting, and refusing to go to bed at night.

After years of stress, the Wischmeyer’s were finished. They needed help. So they decided to call in an experienced nanny — no, not Mary Poppins, but her real-life counterpart — Super Nanny!

Jo Frost, known as Super Nanny, teaches frazzled parents how to handle their out-of-control children. Her reality TV show, “Super Nanny” follows her as she works with families to teach them healthy discipline strategies that provide security and healthy expectations for children.

Using a blend of discipline and love, Super Nanny always leaves families far better than she found them.

In other words, Super Nanny’s approach is the living embodiment of Authoritative Parenting. 

Parenting Styles Chart: Authoritative

Parenting Styles: Authoritarian. Graphic by Sarah of

Hallmarks of an Authoritative Parent

Authoritative parents are “demanding” of their children, yet responsive to their needs and ideas as well. 

They are highly nurturing, and offer both structure and clear, reasonable expectations for their children.

Like permissive parents, authoritative parents are warm and loving toward their children and encourage two-way communication. 

UNlike permissive parents, however, authoritative parents have high expectations for their children, and allow them to suffer the natural consequences of their misbehavior if they break the rules.

Authoritative parents don’t let their kids get away with everything, but unlike authoritarian parents, who use punishment to change their kids’ behavior, authoritative parents view discipline as a way to teach children to grow into self-controlled adults. 

Beacuse of this mindset, authoritative parents take the time to explain the reasoning behind their rules, wanting their children to do what is right because it is right, and not because they will be punished for doing wrong.

How do Children of Authoritative Parents Turn Out? Effects of Parenting Styles on Children’s Behavior

Authoritative Parenting is the parenting style most likely to produce happy, accomplished, and well-adjusted children.

Children of Authoritative Parents are far more likely to grow into responsible adults who are comfortable listening to others and being heard. They tend to be more successful and able to make their own healthy decisions.

Thanks to their warm, reasoned upbringing, adults who grew up in Authoritative homes learn to control and think for themselves and navigate society and life with aplomb. 

In other words, Authoritative parents’ children tend to grow into confident, independent, and competent adults. 

The authoritative parenting style teaches children to become self-disciplined, responsible, healthy adults. Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash

Parenting Styles Quiz: Are you an Authoritative Parent?

What does it take to be an authoritative parent? See how well you match the following descriptions:

  • Do you offer both high expectations and structure along with warmth and open communication to your children?
  • Do you take the time to explain the reasoning behind family rules?
  • Do you discipline your children rather than punish them? 
  • You believe that children need both structure and freedom, high expectations and a safe person to confide in, and you strive to offer your kids both.
  • Do your kids respect you yet also feel comfortable coming to you with whatever is on their hearts and minds?

If you answered yes to 3 or more of the points above, Authoritative parenting is likely one of your dominant parenting styles. 

And if you didn’t answer in the affirmative to many of the points above, now is the time to begin incorporating some of these perspectives into your own parenting!

Listen to your children. Spend time with them and explain why you discipline them when they go wrong. Offer your kids structure and rules when they’re young so that they will learn how to self-regulate and work well with others. 

Be a thoughtful, reasonable adult, and model the best behaviors for your kids. Then you will increase the likelihood that your children will grow into happy, healthy adults.

That brings us to the end of the traditional Four Parenting Styles. But there is a “bonus” 5th style that we need to address… 

5. Parenting Styles: Helicopter — A 5th Parenting Style?

You may have already heard of the term “helicopter parenting,” which child development researchers Foster Cline and Jim Fay coined in 1990 to refer to parents who hover over their children to a damaging degree. 

But the term really rose up in the ranks when the Millennials began to reach college age. 

In order to help their offspring succeed, Boomer Helicopter Parents have been known to help their offspring ask for better grades from teachers, follow their children to camps and colleges, and even write college admissions essays in their children’s names.

Like Permissive parents, Helicopter parents tend to be high in responsiveness and low in demandingness, but what makes them different is their level of involvement (one might say interference) in their children’s lives.

Helicopter parents are overly involved in their children’s lives, trying to take care of every detail for them even when they are old enough to handle it on their own.

They try to guarantee their kids’ success by doing everything for them, and hovering over them constantly.

Parenting Styles Chart: Helicopter

Parenting styles: Helicopter. Graphic by Sarah of

How do Children of Helicopter Parents Turn Out? Effects of Parenting Styles on Children’s Behavior

Needless to say, helicopter parenting can be extremely harmful for children who never learn to grow up.

When children of helicopter parents grow up, they are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and academic difficulties, particularly when they face difficult life situations they’ve never had to handle alone before.

Children of helicopter parents tend to be less self-reliant. They may struggle to cope when they leave home for the first time, because they never learned to be independent. 

They also are more likely to suffer from anxiety, a sense of entitlement, and decreased self-esteem.

Over time, helicopter parenting can erode a child’s ability to succeed or think on their own, and can even hurt your child’s physical health.

Parenting Styles Quiz: Are you a Helicopter Parent?

What does it take to be an authoritative parent? See how well you match the following descriptions:

  • Are you unable to bear seeing your child cry or be in pain, even temporarily?
  • Do you believe that teachers and authority figures owe your children approval and good grades?
  • Do you frequently “save” your children by rushing forgotten homework to school, calling their teacher to argue with grades, etc?
  • Do your kids often forget homework or call home to ask you to bring them things or take care of issues they probably could resolve on their own?
  • Do your kids seem less independent than other children their age?

If you answered yes to 3 or more of the points above, you might be a Helicopter parent.

To overcome theses tendencies, spend more time developing your own interests and hobbies and less time managing your child’s activities. 

Resist the temptation to help your child escape the natural consequences of negative behavior, and don’t expect your child to get different treatment than other children.

Give your children space to make their own decisions and mistakes, and offer advice orassistance only when they need it and ask for it.

It can be hard at first, or feel unnatural if you’ve been over-protecting your child for a long time. But for your child’s sake, you must learn to let go and let them grow.

The helicopter parenting style can stunt children’s maturity, making it hard for them to grow up. Photo by Stanislav Kondratiev on Unsplash

How Do You Determine Parenting Styles? Parenting Styles Psychology and Culture

Parenting practices are highly influenced by culture and society. In other words, what other parents do with their kids influences how you raise your kids.

What about parents in different cultures? Some may wonder. Does cultural background have any effect on the effects of different parenting styles?

To some degree, yes.

Most theories on parenting and parenting styles come from the US and other Western countries, but parenting can look dramatically different in other countries and cultures. 

In parts of Asia, for instance, authoritarian parenting tends to be one of the most popular parenting styles. 

Many Asian parents continue to use corporal punishment to discipline their children — a big no-no for most Western parents. Yet evidence suggests that corporal punishment tends to be more frequent and less harmful in cultures where it is the norm. 

So while the evidence suggests that authoritative parenting is the healthiest parenting style for families, the application can look different in different cultures.

What seems “authoritarian” from one culture’s perspective may seem “authoritative” in another culture. Or what is condemned as “overly permissive” may be seen as “just right” in yet another culture.

In the end, each family must learn how to apply the concept for themselves. It will take experimentation, patience, and love, but it is worth the effort to find out what works best for your family and your children.

Different parenting styles are used and perceived differently in various cultures. Photo by Vladislav Klapin on Unsplash

Yes, It’s True: You CAN be a Great Parent

Every parent wants the best for their children, and you are no exception.

You know you’re not perfect, and you’re still learning life lessons while doing your very best to guide your children. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t be a great parent.

By learning about the above parenting styles, you’ve discovered that of the 5 parenting styles, authoritative parenting is considered the best for children.

And your awareness of the other parenting styles can also help you avoid potential parenting pitfalls.

Your new knowledge of parenting styles, combined with your sincere desire to do right by your kids is all you need to get started.

When you implement your new parenting styles know-how with love and wisdom, you can help your children grow up to be happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults, who

  • Know how to self-regulate and accomplish much in life,
  • Have the ability to face challenges with grace and tenacity,
  • Appreciate your love and sacrifices,
  • And make you proud.

So keep learning, keep growing, and keep your eye on the real goal: 

Raising children who will one day grow up to be fantastic adults and great parents…just like you!

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