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Parenting: What is your parenting style

Updated on March 10, 2013

The ways in which we monitor, and supervise our kids usually depends on our parenting style. Some of us are very strict, whereas others of us allow our teens to have quite a bit of independence. Our parenting style depends on many things, such as: our life circumstances, family culture, religious beliefs and values.

Parenting Quiz

Take a moment to determine your own parenting style. Take this quick quiz to define what your parenting style is.


  1. Read the four statements under each heading, and select the one that most closely resembles how you interact with your teen.
  2. Do not take a long time to think about your answer; go with your first instinct.
  3. A good way to gauge if you are being honest with yourself is to ask, “Would my child/ren agree with my answer?”

The Results

Tolerant Parents

Tolerant Parents have a tendency to be very responsive to their children’s needs, and make very few demands on their children. They lead a very democratic household, and will endevour to include their children in the decision making at home. If they, as parents, have had to make a decision without consulting their children, they will spend a lot of time explaining their decision to their children.

Children in ‘tolerant’ homes will mostly be allowed to decide on their own behaviours. Even though these parents are very loving, and close to their children, they will not insist on their kids conforming to societal norms, behaving in an orderly fashion, or getting involved in household chores. These are the parents who will not insist that their teen picks up after themselves, they will allow their teen to leave the house without knowing where they are going, or who they are with.

Tolerant Parents will have a tendency to look the other way if their teens come home tipsy or drunk, and could also not have issues with their teens engaging in sexual relationships.

They will be the parents that say things like: “Kids will be kids” and “Oh well, that’s just the way teens behave.”

While teens in Tolerant households are generally happy and well looked after, they do lack the boundaries, and discipline structures that all teens need. Tolerant Parents should be commended for raising their children with dignity, and tolerance but must ensure that they tighten the reigns a bit, in order to protect their children and keep them safe.

Strict Parents

Strict Parents are the complete opposite of the Tolerant Parent. They have a tendency to be very demanding of their children and are less responsive to their children’s needs.

These are the parents that run a household with very well defined rules and boundaries. Their teens will be expected to adhere to an absolute standard of conduct. Strict Parents do tend to be harsher in their discipline strategies.

These are the parents who will insist that chores are carried out at a specific time, regardless of circumstances, and their teens will be expected to keep their rooms spotless, at all times.

They will believe that decision making is the responsibility of the parent and will not feel like they owe their teen an explanation for decisions made – even if it directly affects the teen, for example, they will set their teen’s curfew without engaging them in the decision making process, and the punishment will be severe if or when curfews are not met.

Strict Parents will make sure that their teens will be aware of the fact that if they are caught drinking, smoking, or having sex they will have to face dire consequences.

You will find strict parents saying: “The answer is no. No discussion.” “Just do as I say,” and “Because I say so—that’s why.”

While your Strict Parent should be commended for bringing their teens up in a safe home where clear boundaries have been set, they must make an effort to relax their parenting style a bit, when their children become teens. Teens that rebel tend to come from Strict Parent homes. Teens have to have a little, extra leeway so that they are able to learn how to live effectively in this world. Strict Parents should attempt to help guide their teens through this stage, rather than preventing them from establishing an independent world of their own.

Empathetic Parents

Empathetic Parents work hard at affirming all that is wonderful about their child. They differ from the Tolerant and Strict Parent, as they are equally demanding, and responsive of their children. They see the establishing of strong self-worth in their child, as an important part of parenting. They ensure that their teens understand that not only are they important in this life but that the greater world outside of them holds great importance too.

Empathetic Parents run their households with a nurturing yet firm hand. Their families are a “limited democracy”; meaning that while their children, have a say in the decision-making process and rule setting, the final decision lies with them, the parent.

While they love their children excessively, and shower them with mountains of affection, they make sure their children know that they are in charge.

Empathetic Parents set clear and precise boundaries but are open to listening to their children’s needs when setting the household rules, for example, they will jointly agree upon a time for the curfew and what the consequences will be if the curfew is missed. Rather than solely relying on consequences as a form of discipline, the Empathetic Parent will also use a lot of positive reinforcement, in order to affirm their child’s good qualities.

They will be actively involved in their teens’ lives but will give their teen the appropriate independence, so that they are able to explore their world within safe parameters. They will share with their teen what their values about drinking and sex are, and will tell them to phone them if they need a ride home should they and/or their friends be inebriated, and explain to their teens the importance of using birth control and condoms should they choose to engage in sexual intercourse.

Their children will have a set of chores that they are expected to carry out, but the chores will have an element of flexibility.

Empathetic Parents work at giving their children the ability to develop their own thoughts and feelings and the skills to express them.

Indifferent Parents

It is probably irrelevant to include this description in the book, as not many Indifferent Parents are likely to take the time out to read a book on parenting. These parents show little response or demand to their children’s needs.

While they cannot be accused of gross neglect or abuse of their children, they tend to live in a parallel universe to their children. Indifferent Parents will only become involved when they have to, or when a crisis has arisen.

Their children will not be expected to help out around the home and will have no family responsibilities to carry out. Their teens will not have to check in much with their parents, and will be pretty much left to their own devices. Indifferent Parents will seldom know where their teens are, what they are getting up to and whom they are with.

Indifferent Parents need to make sure that they become more actively involved in their teen’s life, or they could make their teen feel insecure and unwanted. When a teen feels like they have no specific place in this world, or no specific role to play, they will feel lost and they will become ‘easy prey’ to gangs and cults, who will promise them the security that they crave.

In Conclusion

Regardless of your parenting style, it is a good idea to avoid the extremes. Healthy, balanced parenting, breeds healthy, balance children. If you rely on the ‘It is my way or the highway’ type of parenting, or if you are too overprotective, you will find yourself in a constant uphill battle with your teen, and they will have a high inclination to rebel. On the other hand, if your teen is given too much freedom, they may feel like you do not love them and act out negatively in order to get your attention.


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    • Marina Goetze profile image

      Marina 4 years ago from Cape Town

      I absolutely agree with you. Establishing a strong relationship before your child hits the teen years, makes all the difference in the world. My daughter and I have always been incredibly close, and we have literally sailed through the teens years. She turns 17 this year and apart from a few arguments here and there (which is obviously very normal) she hasn't given me an ounce of trouble. I have actually loved being on this journey with her, watching her evolve from a child to an adult, it has been fascinating. I really wish this for all parents, which is why I am so passionate about this topic.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 4 years ago from Victoria BC

      I think it is important to be a little of all of the above and as you say balance is the key. Building a relationship with children, especially during the pre-teen years, and listening as well as establishing boundaries and values will make the teen years a lot less stressful in most cases.