Author: Lea Zweig, Psy.D. and Alexa Rabin, Psy.D.

Parenting Styles San DiegoA child’s development is significantly shaped by the way in which parents choose to parent. Parenting styles are often influenced by a variety of factors including culture, parental values, and parents’ own childhood and upbringing. Different parenting styles utilize differing types of warmth and nurturance, communication styles, discipline, and expectations of control. Based on these dimensions, psychologist Diana Baumrind (1967) identified that most parents fall into one of four basic types of parenting styles.

Authoritarian Parenting Style

An authoritarian parent is very structured and demanding of their child. These types of parents tend to set strict rules, and failure to follow the rules results in specific punishment. The parent typically does not offer explanation or reasoning for rules, but might simply reply, “Because I said so.” Such parents prioritize teaching the child discipline and obedience. This parent may come off as cold and distant from the child, as they have high demands but they are not particularly warm or responsive to their child. Children of authoritarian parents may be highly obedient, quiet, or lack social skills. They may also demonstrate depressive symptoms or low self-esteem. Such children may also be at risk for rebellious behaviors or escape behaviors such as substance abuse and/or suicide.

Uninvolved or Disengaged Parenting Style

A parent who is disengaged does not engage in the parenting role. The parent is not particularly involved in the child’s life and is low in responsiveness. These parents will provide basic needs for their children, but they are not demanding of their child, they do not set boundaries or communicate clear expectations, and often do not offer a great deal of emotional support for their child. Such parents might reason, “The child will eventually figure it out,” or “The child should automatically just know right from wrong.” Children of disengaged or neglectful parents often feel more independent and more mature than others their age. They struggle to make and maintain healthy relationships and they may lack the ability to express love. Such children may also demonstrate behavioral problems and lack self-control.

Permissive Parenting Style

A permissive parent is sometimes referred to as the indulgent parent. Such parents are supportive and attentive to their child, but do not provide any type of structure or discipline. These parents provide warmth and nurturance to their child, but they have very few demands and expectations. These parents often feel more like a friend than a parent. Children of permissive parents are often creative. They may be more likely to lack self-control and may demonstrate more impulsive behaviors than other children. Such children may also demonstrate a sense of entitlement, struggle to respect authority, or act out in an attempt to determine where the boundaries are.

Authoritative Parenting Style

An authoritative parent provides warmth, care, and acceptance as well as clear and consistent boundaries. Such parents establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow, but they are responsive to their children and willing to listen to them. As such, they can be much more democratic and flexible. When children fail to meet expectations, these parents are more willing to use the mistake as an opportunity to learn rather than punishing. In this way, disciplinary strategies are supportive rather than punitive. This parenting style often helps the child learn how to regulate their feelings, function independently, and set boundaries for themselves. Such parents tend to value cooperation, self-regulation, social responsibility, and assertiveness.

If you are interested in working on or changing your parenting style, you may reach out to a child psychologist or family therapist in the San Diego area for some pointers and guidance.