03 April 2024 Parenting Styles and Decision Making

A parent’s parenting style influences everything from a child's weight to their self-esteem and many more. The way parents communicate with their child and how they discipline them will have an impact on them for the rest of their life. 
As a parent, it is important to make sure your parenting style supports balanced growth and development. The combination of parenting strategies you use to raise your children is referred to as your parenting style.  

In the 1960s, Diane Baumrind, a developmental psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley, developed a widely used classification of parenting types. According to Baumrind, there are four different parenting types, each with its own distinct behaviour characteristics:
  • Authoritarian
  • Authoritative
  • Permissive
  • Uninvolved

Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parents often say things like “ Do what I say!”, “ Because I said so!” or “ If you do not listen, I will punish you!”. Those examples are not exhaustive and may not be expressed word for word, nonetheless, if those statements apply to you, you could be an authoritarian parent. 

Authoritarian parents have high demands and low responsiveness. They often insist that children should always obey the rules given without questioning. They are inclined to prevent children from participating in problem-solving challenges. Instead, they make up rules and apply them without respect for the views of their children. 

Instead of discipline, authoritarian parents resort to using punishments. Rather than teaching a child how to make better decisions, they spend their time making children feel guilty for their errors. 

Since their children’s views are not heard, children with authoritarian parents are more likely to have self-esteem issues. They can even become enraged or violent. Consequently, when faced with issues, rather than seeking ways to improve things in the future, these children tend to concentrate on their feelings of rage toward their parents. Since authoritarian parents are strict, their children may grow up to be/have:
  • Good liars to please them and to avoid punishment.
  • Low self-esteem. 
  • Poorer social skills.
  • Working in a stressful environment. 
  • Less independent.
  • Good academic achievers.  

Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting is characterized by having high demands and high responsiveness. This means parents set rules and impose boundaries by holding constructive discussions with their children and giving them direction and guidance. They have high standards for their children’s success and competence, but they are still warm and attentive. 

These parents offer rationale and explanations for their behaviour to their children. Explanations include a sense of understanding to children to educate them about beliefs, principles, and aspirations.

Authoritative parents are warm and encouraging. They give their kids individuality and empower them to be independent. Authoritative parents devote time and effort to avoiding behavioural issues when they arise. Strong discipline techniques, such as praise and incentive programmes, are often used to promote healthy behaviour. Children who have been brought under strict authority are more likely to be/have:
  • Happy and content.
  • More independent.
  • Good social skills​.
  • Good academic success. 
  • Develop good self-esteem. 

Permissive parenting 

Permissive parenting is a type of parenting style characterized by low demands while maintaining high responsiveness.  

Do you give a lot of freedom to your kids, rarely set household rules and always get your kid whatever they want? If you recognize yourself in those statements, you might be a permissive parent. Parents who adopt this parenting style place few demands on their children. Discipline is rare since these parents have poor standards for self-control and maturity.

Parents who are permissive are forgiving, and more often than not, too forgiving. They usually only intervene when a serious issue arises. Permissive parents often play the role of the “Cool Parent” because permissive parents are more likely to play the part of a friend. They often allow their children to discuss their issues with them. While that is positive, they rarely discourage poor decisions or bad behaviour. When they do use ‘consequences’ as a means to correct their children’s behaviour, it is possible for children not to adhere to them. In other words, their children are let off the hook for their mistakes easily. If a child asks, parents may provide privileges or allow the child to exit time-out early if he or she agrees to be nice.

Children who are raised by permissive parents tend to be/have:
  • Low achievement in many areas.
  • More aggressive behaviour. 
  • Low emotional intelligence. 
  • High risk of health problems.
  • Low self-esteem. 

Uninvolved Parenting

Uninvolved parenting is characterized by having low demands and low responsiveness towards children. Uninvolved parents are oftentimes unaware of their children's activities. There aren't many rules established for the well-being of their children. Children’s don't get enough instruction, nurturing, or parental attention. Uninvolved parents expect their children to raise themselves. They may not devote much time or effort to meeting the basic needs of children. Uninvolved parenting can also be known as negligent parenting. 

A parent with mental health or substance abuse issues are likely to fall under this category, thus not being able to consistently meet a child's physical and emotional needs. With that being said, uninvolved parents’ negligence may not necessarily be on purpose. Parents without the stated issues may also be uninvolved towards their children’s holistic developmental needs. Uninvolved parents are unaware of their children's growth and they are often distracted by other issues such as their jobs, expenses and household management matters.

Children who are raised by uninvolved parents may face issues like: 
  • Self-esteem problems.
  • Anxiety or/and loneliness due to the lack of family support. 
  • Have an increased risk of substance abuse.
  • Trust issues. 
  • Higher tendency to exhibit delinquency during adolescence.

Decision making 

According to Baumrind, the best parenting style is authoritative parenting. Researchers and psychologists have discovered that authoritative parenting is consistently linked to the best outcomes in children based on decades of research. However, there are still inaccuracies and exceptions in some areas.

Sometimes parents do not just fit into one category, so do not despair if there are times or areas where you tend to be permissive or authoritarian. Nonetheless, the key thing to take note of is a child requires high demand and high responsiveness to develop holistically and to pick up good qualities.

However, parenting styles may change depending on the situation and time. Here are so factors to take into consideration when deciding:

a) Culture Differences 
According to some studies, the authoritative style is not always associated with the best outcome. For example, in one study, researchers discovered that African American students with authoritative parents but no peer support performed poorly in academic. In another research, Asian-American students performed best in school when they had authoritarian parents and peer support.

b) Child Temperament 
Children's behaviour can influence both the parent's decision and the outcome. Children with a sensitive temperament, for example, may be perceived as difficult, prompting parents to adopt a more authoritarian parenting style.

According to a study, some aspects of child behaviour, such as sociable and aggressive behaviours, are better related to the child's temperament than with their parents' parenting style. This demonstrates that parenting style isn't the only factor that influences a child's development. To date, no study has conclusively disproved the benefits of authoritative parenting, because many others have consistently demonstrated its benefits.

c) Parenting Style and Practice
The distinction between parenting style and parenting practice is another factor many people get confused about.

Parenting style is the emotional environment and influence under which parents raise their children. 

Parenting practices are specific actions that are implied in their parenting.
While both parenting style and practices are intertwined, they are distinct. Two groups of parents may adopt the same parenting style but they may differ in how they use different parenting strategies, which may influence the degree of results. While both parents are authoritative, they have their own set of activities and rules for their children. 

Overall, we all know that one size does not fit all when it comes to parenting styles. As a responsible parent, you have the responsibility to maintain a good relationship with your child while also healthily maintaining your authority to ensure your child develops competence and abides by healthy standards. It is also critical to note that a child’s healthy development is multifactorial and complex, parents need to be knowledgeable and wise, while being flexible in how they adopt the right parenting style for their child’s personal needs, according to their inborn qualities and personality. 

Baumrind. D. (1967). Child care practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behaviour. Genet Psychol Monogr. 1967;75(1):43-88. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6032134

Steinberg. L. and Dornbusch. S. (1992). Ethnic differences in adolescent achievement: An ecological perspective. American Psychologist. 1992;47(6):723-729.