By: Mariela Fernandez
The ways parents discipline and show affection to their children vary greatly. And in spite of vows to the contrary— “When I have my own children, I’m going to be nothing like my parents!”—new parents often repeat the discipline and care styles their parents used. To change this, parents could study the four parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, neglectful, and permissive. Each parenting style will impact a child’s development.
- Authoritative parents display both warmth and discipline for their children. The authoritative parent knows a child needs boundaries and supervision, but also warmth and affection. Adolescents under authoritative parents display fewer problem behaviors, lower stress levels, and higher academic achievement.
- Authoritarian parents are linked with high levels of discipline. An authoritarian parenting style has harsh level of discipline and low levels of warmth toward children. Like drill sergeants, these parents often do not explain the reasons behind their expectations and rules. Although children need direction and structure, these parents seem to push their children in the wrong direction. Children may display risky and antisocial behavior and seek out deviant peer groups.
- Permissive parents show too much warmth toward their children. Because they don’t want to disappoint their children, permissive parents provide an abundance of warmth but limited discipline. Some of these parents even try to be their son’s or daughter’s best friend. Teenagers with this type of parents learn little about boundaries and consequences.
- Neglectful parents may be unable to provide care or discipline. Whether for work, health, or personal reasons or even indifference, neglectful parents can’t be available for their children. They have few boundaries and little warmth. Unfortunately, the children pay a price for this neglect, often in academic or emotional problems. Others turn to delinquency.
- Authoritative parents are linked with positive youth development. Of the four parenting styles, the authoritative parents raise the most competent children and teenagers. These parents ensure their children understand why they are being disciplined, and at the same time are also flexible and understanding of their children’s opinions.
- There are differences between ethnic groups. Although the authoritative parenting style works for many families, other styles might work better in families from different ethnic groups. For instance, authoritarian parenting style is interpreted as an expression of love in many Asian American families. For African American parents, a mix of authoritarian and authoritative styles might be preferred. This may be due to socialization factors, but other family dimensions have not been analyzed.
Implications for Parents
Parenting styles’ impacts on children are too great for parents not become informed. Parents must educate themselves about the four styles, and examine and identify their own parenting style. Sometimes children’s behavior will not allow parents to adopt a certain style. In addition, one parent may strongly identify with one style, while the other parent identifies with another. In such cases, parents need work together to ensure children receive consistent expectations and discipline.
About the Author
Mariela Fernandez is a master’s degree student in the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences.
Download a printer-friendly version of this publication: Parent Fact Sheet: Parenting Styles
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