What is Your Parenting Style?

In psychology today, experts have identified four basic parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive and uninvolved parenting. They are defined as follows:

  • Authoritative parenting is characterized by parents’ high expectations, open communication style, and understanding and support for their children. They offer guidance, explain and enforce rules, and create a positive relationship.
  • Authoritarian parenting, also called strict parenting, is characterized by parents who are demanding but not responsive to their children. Authoritarian parents do not allow open dialogue between parent and child and expect children to follow a strict set of rules. These parents tend to focus on obedience and choose punishment over discipline.
  • Permissive parenting, or indulgent parenting, is responsive but not demanding. These parents tend to be over-involved, lenient, inconsistent, and unstructured. They tend to not enforce rules.
  • Uninvolved parenting is characterized as distant, passive, uninterested or distant. These parents provide very little guidance, nurturing or attention.

Sometimes parents don’t fit into just one category, so don’t be surprised if there are times or areas where you tend to be permissive and other times when you’re more authoritative. In addition, every parent-child relationship is different, so there is no one “right” way to parent.

However, while each of the 4 styles above has pros and cons, the research is clear. Authoritative parenting is the best parenting style for children, while the uninvolved parenting style is by far the least favorable option.

Reasons Uninvolved Parenting Style is Harmful

Research has shown some specific negative results from uninvolved parenting. Teens with uninvolved parents tend to be:

  • Unconfident. Teens need unconditional love and support to take on the challenging realities of life bravely. Unfortunately, children raised through uninvolved parenting usually have low self-esteem and are uncertain about their own ability to face and deal with different situations.
  • Lonely. Teens who are close with their families have a sense of belonging. Teens are not able to obtain the same piece of mind and emotional security from other relationships.
  • Anxious. Parents are like shelters. Teens who lack parental involvement are typically stressed and anxious.
  • More likely to be delinquent. Research has shown that teens with uninvolved parents were significantly more likely to be involved in a vast range of criminal behaviors ranging from vandalism to assault.
  • Unable to accept authority. Teens who have never been restricted from doing anything or guided to appropriate behavior and respect frequently struggle following orders from teachers or other adults.
  • More prone to substance abuse. Studies have shown that teens with uninvolved parents were significantly more likely to take drugs and consume alcohol.


Ways to Become an Authoritative Parent

Studies show that teens who are raised by authoritative parents are happier, healthier, and more equipped to face real world challenges. The great news is that anyone can make changes to adopt a more authoritative parenting style. Below are ten strategies that can help you become a more authoritative parent. Don’t try to adopt all of them at the same time, as you would likely become overwhelmed and quit. Pick one or two of the following ideas to focus on, and you will be on your way!

Listen. Welcome your teen’s opinions, listen to their concerns, and pay attention to their ideas. Ask them about their interests. Listen more than you speak.

Validate emotions. Help your teen name their feelings and become aware of how their emotions affect their behavior. Resist minimizing their feelings, and instead state facts, such as “I understand you are feeling disappointed.”

Allow input. Show that you care about how your decisions might impact your teen by inviting their input. While you should not give your teen an equal vote in your decisions, you can find compromises in many situations so that everyone feels happier.

Establish expectations. Create rules so that everyone in the family knows what is expected, and explain the reasons behind the rules you create which often encourages compliance. Rules should be clear and specific.

Be consistent. When rules are broken, you must follow through on consequences every time. Use logical consequences that teach lessons and help your teen to make a better decision in the future. Avoid punishments that are severe or are not related to your teen’s offense.

Acknowledge good behavior. Praise conduct that you appreciate. Offer rewards to achieve goals. Positive reinforcement goes a long way in creating happy families!

Encourage decision-making. Empower your teen by ensuring they are making decisions for themselves. Offer guidance when they are not sure what to do.

Increase responsibility with age. As your teen matures, you should give them more responsibility and privileges. Your teen should be becoming increasingly self-reliant.

Turn mistakes into learning opportunities. Do not embarrass or put down a teen for a mistake. Instead, ask them what they learned from their mistake. This helps your teen problem solve and realize they can turn a negative situation into a positive one.

Maintain open communication. Be a safe place for your teen to share. Offer support and a loving environment. Try to schedule short, but frequent quality time with your teen where you engage in your teen’s interests or give your teen your undivided attention.

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