How Parenting Styles Can Shape Your Child

Medically reviewed by Katrice Hollins, LCSW, LICSW
Updated May 6, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

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

Many parents have never heard of the four parenting styles yet still use one without realizing it, affecting child behavior and development. While it may not be necessary to plan out every aspect of your child's life, considering an authoritative style or other parenting styles as they grow up could lead to positive outcomes.

Why do parenting styles matter?

How you raise your child may impact their development and determine how they react to discipline. Many researchers emphasize the importance of disciplining a child. However, finding the best parenting style and the right ways to discipline a child effectively can be challenging for many parents. Studies show that your parenting style can either negatively or positively impact your child's socialization skills and children's behavior later in life. How you parent may also affect your child's attachment style, which is related to their child's temperament and 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.

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An effective parenting style can transform your family dynamics

The types of parenting styles

Parenting is not easy and many parents find tips to know what makes a good parent. 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 main 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 one of the four parenting styles that's characterized by the most parental control. Authoritarian types of parents may practice tough love and follow the philosophy that being listened to is a right reserved for adults (i.e., the mantra that “Children are seen and not heard”). This parenting style can involve strict rules, hesitance to discuss issues, using "no" frequently, or stern discipline.

Understanding Chinese parenting can help shed light on the authoritarian parent. Traditional Chinese parents have a culture of strict rules that are designed to keep children disciplined and on track.  This is in contrast to the Western parenting style, which focuses more on personal growth and exploration. Chinese parents expect their children to be obedient, do well in school, and respect family members unconditionally. It's common for these parents to be very demanding of their children and show little tolerance for misbehavior or rebellion.

A benefit of authoritarian parenting may be helping children to accept and set boundaries during early childhood. However, there are some concerns with this style, such as low self-esteem and delinquent behavior. 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, struggle with problem-solving, 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, such as children of authoritative parents. 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, in the field of parenting styles psychology, often refer to authoritative parenting as the optimum parenting style. While authoritative parenting styles are similar to authoritarian parenting practices, authoritative parents are often more nurturing.

Unlike parents who are traditionally authoritarian, authoritative parents often respond to their children’s needs and offer grace when they make mistakes. For this reason, the child of an authoritative parent 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 neglectful parents or uninvolved parents tend to be.

There are many positive outcomes 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, one of the major parenting styles, refers to easy-going parents raising their children in a permissive and open-minded home. In stark contrast to a household under parents that are authoritarian, permissive households often revolve around love and few rules or expectations. Although these permissive parents tend to 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 child outcomes 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 due to potential mental health issues. Hence, children frequently encounter the best outcomes with parenting that is authoritative; permissive parenting and authoritarian parenting both have substantial drawbacks. 

Getty / courtneyk

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. 

If you or a loved one is experiencing abuse, contact the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Support is available 24/7.

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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.

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. 


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, know more about the most effective parenting style, or learn new tips and tricks for raising your child healthily. You don't have to do it alone. 

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