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The 4 Main Parenting Styles

Updated on December 9, 2019
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The 4 Parenting Styles

There are 4 main styles of parenting: authoritative, authoritarian (it is different), permissive, and uninvolved. These aren't just general labels, they are actual categorizations created by psychologist Diane Baumrind in the United States. Although every parent has different experiences, the common factors considered (expectations, nurturing, discipline styles, and communication) vary between these different styles.

Expectations - What parents expect from their children's behavior.

Nurturing - How the parents interact with their children and teach them.

Discipline styles - Methods parents use to discipline their children.

Communication - How often parents communicate with the children and how they go about it.

Authoritative Parenting Style

Authoritative parenting combines a perfect amount of warmness and discipline with children. Although the parents don't allow the child to do and get whatever it pleases, they are kind yet firm when disciplining them. This is viewed as the most effective style when parenting children, although some children may need more discipline than others (depending on personality, behavior, etc.)


An example of how an authoritative parent would act is illustrated in the following circumstance:

A child comes home with a failed test grade. When finding out, the parents may not ground the child or react with strong emotion. Instead they may comfort the child, while reminding them that it is important to work hard and improve the grade next time around. The parents might also offer to help studying, or tell the child that they can't do any extra-curricular activities until they spend some time studying/doing homework first.

Authoritarian Parenting Style

Authoritarian parenting is different from authoritative, although they do sound similar. Authoritarian styles focus more on discipline and are often very good at it, but lack in showing warmness and closeness to the child. In other words, they only worry about right and wrong, and fail to invest in any other areas of the child's life. Parents are often viewed as cold and/or distant by the child. There is nothing wrong with good discipline, but sufficient nurturing and warmness are proven to be necessary in order for the child to develop best.


An example of how an authoritarian parent would act is illustrated in the following circumstance:

A child comes home with a failed test grade. When finding out, the parents immediately react, showing emotions of anger, disappointment, or frustration. They utilize these emotions in their discipline, whether it be yelling at the child, grounding it until he/she does better, threatening them to never do it again, or other forms of strong punishment. They force the child to pay for its actions and to make up for them, sometimes forcibly studying with them until they get it.

Permissive Parenting Style

Permissive parenting is mostly focused on warmness toward the child, with little to no focus on discipline. Parents who are extremely permissive rarely punish or discipline the child, and instead constantly support, encourage, and pamper it. There is nothing wrong with having warmness and lenience, but the lack of discipline can lead to poor respectful behavior, both at home and in public. Permissive parenting allows disrespect and negative behavior to slide, and still pampers the child in the meanwhile.


An example of how a permissive parent would act is illustrated in the following circumstance:

A child comes home with a failed test grade. When finding out, the parents immediately act to comfort the child, completely ignoring that the failure is a problem. They may tell the child that it doesn't matter, or that it's no big deal. They will do anything to make the child feel better, without helping or directing the child to do better. They don't acknowledge that there has been a mistake or problem, and ignore it all together. Even if the child fails again, the parents will act the same way: anything to comfort the child without disciplining them.

Uninvolved Parenting Style

Uninvolved parenting involves little to no participation in the child's life. The parent shows no warmness, or discipline towards the child. In fact, the parent is literally uninvolved in the child's life. If they are in the child's life, they show little interest in it, and act as if they are only in it because they have to be.


An example of how an uninvolved parent would act is illustrated in the following circumstances:

A child comes home with a failed test grade. When/if the parent hears about it, they have almost no reaction. They act as if they don't care. They might say the child needs to do better, but not take any action in it. They also don't comfort the child at all. The child may feel no connection to the parent, and the parent may feel the same way. However, they don't act to increase the connection or to show love/care for the child.

Note: This is if the parent is present at all in the child's life.

A Final Note

Circumstances are different for every situation, but these are general categories of parenting. Some children may need different levels of discipline and warmness than others, and some circumstances may force certain parentings styles to be used. Parenting styles can also change.

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