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The 3 Main Parenting Styles

We all have our own weaknesses and defects and just as every child is unique so too is every parent. What works well for some families may prove terrible for others, therefore we need to understand that there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ ways to bring up children.

Babies are not programmed ‘good’, ‘bad’ or ‘workable’. It is up to you, as a parent, to teach your child right from wrong, good from bad and install in them values and respect. How you do this will  depend on your personal parenting style. You may be an intimate kind of person with very few rules, and the rules you do have may be flexible; or you may be a very strict parent with reserved rules that you expect your child to adhere to at all times. On the other hand, and this is without doubt the best kind of parenting style to adopt, you may be somewhere between the two; sure of how you expect your children to act but making allowances along the way for the basics that, no one is perfect and we all make mistakes some time.

These three styles of parenting are generally known as:




Permissive parenting

This kind of parenting is now more and more popular as a consequence of modern attitudes to children. The common view is that children should have a voice in the way they lead their lives and, to some extent, this is advantageous.

However, it is when the permissive parenting style follows a ‘couldn’t care less’ or ‘let them get on with it’ attitude when the problems will show up.

Providing limits and barriers

All children need limits and barriers in order to feel safe and secure and sometimes the shortage of structure present in the permissive style of parenting can cause embarrassment for the children and chaos for the family.

The prejudice to a permissive style of parenting are:


Intime and loving relationships between parent and child

Minimal battle as the child is usually allowed what they want

Freedom given to the child to learn how to manage their own behavior

No opportunity for the child to be penalized physically

No verbal reprimands or shouting

Admittance of the child in discussions about behavior.

The disadvantages to a permissive style of parenting are:

The child may find it tough to work within boundaries

The child may not understand what is and is not allowed

The child may expect to ‘get away’ with inappropriate attitude when outside the home.

Authoritarian parenting

Often referred to as a ‘Victorian’ way to parenting, authoritarian parents are old-fashioned in their approach to bringing up children. They often hold the conviction that children today are given too much freedom and, as a result, lack values and respect.

Authoritarian parents have fixed habits and rules which they expect their children to abide by.

The benefits to an authoritarian style of parenting are:

The child will find working within barriers easy

The child will have a clear view of what is and is not acceptable attitude

The child will feel safe and secure

The child will find arranging to settings outside the home easy.

The disadvantages to an authoritarian style of parenting are:

There may be a lot of battles between the child and parent

The parent may resort to physical violence

The parent may resort to shouting

The child may feel trapped

The child may feel bullied

The child may contest at a later stage

The child may have little opportunity to express themselves

There is little room for flexibility.

Authoritative parenting

A blend of permissive and authoritarian styles of parenting, authoritative parents are capable of allowing their child the liberty to ‘be themselves’ whilst remembering the overall say in how things are done. Although authoritative parents lay down rules and set barriers they take the time to explain these rules and barriers and to listen to their children. They have realistic views of what their child is likely to achieve and take a firm but fair behavior.

The benefits to an authoritative style of parenting are:

The child has clear and consistent rules and barriers

The child has a good considerate of what is expected of them

The relationship between the parent and child is usually one based on love, trust and mutual respect.

The disadvantages to an authoritative style of parenting are:

It can, at times, be tough to find and maintain a balance.

Although a positive approach, children may still feel hard done by particularly if their friends’ parents are more permissive.

How do you control your behavior?

Before we can start to look at ways of understanding why children behave in certain ways and what we can do to effectively manage their attitude it is maybe important to take a closer look at our own behavior. We need to find out what triggers the way we feel and how we respond to certain situations.

By doing this we can attain an insight into what makes our children tick and

surely see where our own behavior is mirrored or copied by them.

Remember, children do not just copy the positive characters they see in their parents; they can, and usually do, copy the negative sides to their attitude as well. 

Attitude is always better taught well the first time around rather than trying to undo the awful and trying to re-educate the child. Positive good example in the form of loving, respectful parents are then essential if children are to learn how to behave well.

Influences on your parenting style

There are several influences which can affect the sort of parent you are and these include:

The way you have been brought up

The type of person you are and what you expect from your children

The type of children you have.

The way you have been brought up

Most of us are strongly influenced by our own parents’ convictions and the way in which we were elevated ourselves and we often repeat the cycle,  whether our own childhood was a positive one or not. Breaking the cycle of a poor childhood can be very tough as we tend to fall into a pattern and, even if you thought your own childhood was too strict or severe, you may well find yourself mirroring this sort of childhood for your own children. This may be because you do not know any other way of being a parent or because unconsciously you admit this to be the correct way of parenting.

Some parents, however, will take their own children up in the completely opposite way. If they felt their own childhood was too strict, for example, they can adopt a permissive style of parenting themselves and allow their children the liberty they felt they were deprived of.