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The Five Styles of Parenting: Understanding Their Impact

Exploring Authoritarian, Permissive, Authoritative, Neglectful, and Over-Involved Approaches

By COSPublished 7 days ago 3 min read

In theory, there are only four recognized styles of parenting: Authoritarian, Permissive, Authoritative, and Neglectful. However, a fifth style has been proposed more recently. These styles span a range of control and responsiveness, from demanding and unresponsive to loving and receptive. Each style has a place in the spectrum of parenting, and understanding their implications can offer valuable insights into child development.

Authoritarian Parenting is characterized by controlling behavior and demands for obedience without considering the child's perspective. Authoritarian parents believe that strict rules are essential for raising well-behaved children who fit into society. For example, Sara's parents love her but enforce rigid rules. If Sara cries, she's told to stop. If she talks back, she's sent to the corner for a timeout. Forgetting chores results in her being denied playtime. Consequently, Sara learns to suppress her emotions and comply with her duties to gain her parents' approval and avoid their displeasure. As an adult, Sara may struggle with making her own decisions and following her intrinsic interests, leading to a life that pleases her parents and society but leaves her feeling unfulfilled.

Permissive Parenting is marked by a loving but lax approach, where parents fulfill their child's every wish and never say "no." Peter's parents, for instance, give him full control and whatever he wants. He is carried if he doesn't want to walk, gets ice cream on demand, and plays games all night. Peter grows up without boundaries, doing whatever he thinks is right. He never learns to handle conflict or control his emotions, becoming a bad loser and acting inconsiderate as he grows older. Lacking limits, Peter struggles with self-discipline and often oversteps boundaries.

Authoritative Parenting strikes a balance between firmness and love, encouraging independence within limits. For example, Arthur's parents respect his needs and allow him freedom within structured boundaries. He can play freely but must help tidy up afterward. Ice cream is a Sunday treat, and screen time is limited. Conflicts are addressed through listening and rule-setting without giving in or using rewards and punishments. Arthur learns resilience and self-regulation, expressing his opinions appropriately and adhering to rules he understands. As an adult, Arthur confidently negotiates and follows rules after understanding them.

Neglectful Parenting is defined by a lack of involvement and interest in the child's life. For example, Nora, raised by neglectful parents, feels alone and receives no feedback, affection, or attention. She enjoys full freedom and imaginative play but realizes that her actions don't matter because no one cares. This neglect fosters a lack of self-trust and insecurity, making it difficult for Nora to form healthy relationships. To cope with her feelings of unworthiness, she detaches emotionally and becomes indifferent to her surroundings.

Over-Involved Parenting, the fifth style, involves parents who are deeply involved in every aspect of their child's life. Often referred to as "snowplow" or "helicopter" parents, they remove obstacles from their child's path and micromanage their activities. These children, unable to face challenges alone, fail to develop problem-solving skills, perseverance, and a strong work ethic. Research suggests that these children tend to procrastinate and avoid tasks requiring significant effort.

Most research on parenting styles is based on self-reports from the US and Europe, leaving some uncertainty about the applicability of these findings in other cultural contexts. The four original parenting styles were introduced by psychologist Diana Baumrind, who emphasized the importance of balancing demandingness and responsiveness. Adding the wisdom of Maria Montessori, who advised against helping children with tasks they can succeed in on their own, offers further guidance.

So, what do you think? Should parents adhere strictly to a specific style, or should they adapt their approach based on the situation, ensuring they neither neglect nor abuse their child? The answer likely lies in finding a balance that fosters both structure and independence, allowing children to grow into well-rounded, resilient individuals.

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