How Parenting Styles Can Shape Your Child

Updated November 18, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Some parents conduct research or take parenting classes to learn as much as possible before their child enters the world. Other parents may choose to "wing" it and not have as much of a plan for how they'd like to raise their child.

Many parents have never heard of parenting styles yet still use one without realizing it. While it may not be necessary to plan out every aspect of your child's life and behavioral development, it could be helpful to think about what type of parenting style you'd like to utilize as they grow up.  

Why Do Parenting Styles Matter?

How you raise your child may impact them psychologically and determine how they react to discipline. Studies show that your parenting style can either negatively or positively impact your child's socialization skills later in life. How you parent may also affect your child's attachment style, which is how they may connect with future intimate partners and friends as adults. 

Learning how your parenting style can impact your child may be beneficial in ensuring their mental and physical health in the long run.

Children walking to school

An effective parenting style can transform your family dynamics.

The Types Of Parenting Styles

There are four different parenting styles known as the Baumrind parenting styles. These parenting styles stemmed from adolescent research and were coined by clinical and developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind.

They are as follows:

  • Authoritarian parenting style

  • Authoritative parenting style

  • Permissive parenting style

  • Uninvolved parenting style

These four types are based on two factors:

  • The expectations the parent has regarding getting their child to behave

  • The responsiveness to the child's needs

These types may affect children in different ways, both positively and negatively.

Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parenting is the style that's sometimes characterized by the most parental control. Authoritarian parents may practice tough love and follow the mantra, "children should be seen and not heard." This parenting style can involve strict rules, hesitance to discuss issues, using "no" frequently, or stern discipline.

A benefit of authoritarian parenting may be helping children to accept and set boundaries. However, there are some concerns with this style. With authoritarian parenting, there is often little freedom. When kids raised under this style grow up, they might realize they haven't learned self-discipline or control or cannot think for themselves. Or they may lash out at their parents by breaking the rules or taking unnecessary risks. 

According to a study from the University of New Hampshire, authoritarian parents are more likely to raise children with disrespectful or delinquent tendencies than those who earn their child's trust and respect. These children may see their parents as legitimate authority figures instead of parents or support figures. As a result, they may rebel and not feel obligated to follow the rules. 

Authoritative Parenting

Many psychologists often refer to authoritative parenting as the most effective parenting style. While authoritative parenting styles are similar to authoritarian parenting, authoritative parents are often more nurturing. 

An authoritative parent often responds to their child's needs and offers grace when they make mistakes. For this reason, their child may be empowered to do the right thing rather than be coerced into it because of fear. Parents who practice authoritative parenting may also be more engaged than other types.

There are many positive effects associated with authoritative parenting. Children from authoritative parents may follow through with exceptional academic performance and low delinquency. 

In an authoritative family, the kids may feel happy, the adolescents' self-esteem may be high, and children may feel confident in their abilities. They might also have a stable relationship with their parents and get along well with others.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parenting refers to easy-going parents raising their children in a permissive and open-minded home. Home life may revolve around love and few rules or expectations. Although these parents may be responsive to their child's needs, they may hardly make demands. The permissive parent may be warm and accepting, rarely punishes their kids, sets very few limits, and doesn't exert much control.

There may be several positive aspects of permissive parenting. For example, kids tend to feel more comfortable communicating with their parents. They might have high self-esteem because they know their parents love them unconditionally. These children may also be highly creative and positive people.

However, permissive parenting can have downsides. Since the kids in these households grow up without many rules, they may struggle with healthy boundaries, show disrespect, or participate in risky behaviors when they get older. They may struggle to hear the word "no" if they didn't hear it often as a child. Being told what to do may feel foreign or offensive.

Children of permissive parents often don't have much pressure on them, so they grow up somewhat unprepared for the real world. While they are often positive and happy people, they may struggle with a lack of social skills, feel moody, or depend a lot on others. 

Parent helping kid cook lunch

Uninvolved Parenting

Uninvolved and permissive parenting may be confused due to their stand-back approach and lack of rules. However, while permissive parents often try to be a positive and loving force in their child's life, uninvolved parents may hardly be involved in their child's life. 

An uninvolved parent often provides the basics like food, water, and shelter but otherwise may leave their children to fend for themselves. Often, the child's emotional needs go primarily unmet, and they don't receive nurturing, quality time, guidance, or attention. In extreme cases, this can look like child neglect or emotional abuse. 

These parents may be more involved in their work, relationships, or personal life than their children. They might not realize that they're impacting their child's mental health and might be stressed about work, bills, or marriage. However, children raised by uninvolved parents often struggle with poor self-esteem, cognitive issues, and behavioral problems. They may do poorly in school or struggle with substance use in early adolescence. 

Children with uninvolved parents often have issues forming relationships because of a fear of abandonment. These negative consequences may follow a child throughout the rest of their life unless they seek help.

Parent and child playing
An effective parenting style can transform your family dynamics.

Parents Of All Types Need Support

Parenting can be a huge responsibility since you are responsible for a child 24/7. If you are a single parent, it may seem impossible to figure out how to raise a child independently. Having a support system can take some of the weight off you. Whether it's your family, friends, or a counselor, it often "takes a village" to raise a child. You do not have to parent alone. 

If you feel like you're not the type of parent you want to be, there may be a chance to change. You might feel burnt out, are a new parent, or want to switch parenting styles and be a more influential figure in your child's life. In this case, therapy may be a practical choice. Because of their busy schedules, online therapy is often a valuable option for parents. 

Studies suggest that online therapy can be just as effective as in-person counseling. Speaking to a licensed professional from home can allow you to get support where and when needed. Counseling platforms such as BetterHelp allow you to browse to an extensive database of parenting experts and mental health professionals. 

Takeaway

How you parent your child may affect how they make decisions in life, how successful they are, and even how they understand the world around them. Parents are often the first and most influential teachers. 

Consider reaching out for support if you want to understand your parenting style better or learn new tips and tricks for raising your child healthily. You don't have to do it alone. 

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