The parenting styles that we often hear about today was developed by Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist in the 1960s. She introduces the concept of different parenting styles, namely authoritative, authoritarian and permissive. Subsequently, the concept of uninvolved / neglectful was introduced by Maccoby and Martin in the 1980s. These parenting styles researched and look into how these styles are impacting a child’s future. These styles look into how much a support in terms of love, affection and acceptance is provided for a child and demandingness in terms of parental control a parent exerts on a child.

Authoritative Parenting Style

Authoritative parents are supportive of their children by way of allowing their children to make decisions and uses reasoning when communicating with their children. They are reasonable and consistent with their demand on their child. At the same time with their support on their children’ decision, their children are able to develop their confidence and competency.

Based on research by Maccoby, E. E. (1992), children with authoritative parents are generally happy, capable and successful.

Authoritarian Parenting Style

Authoritarian parents expect their children to obey them at all times. It is their way or the highway. They provide little support to their children while having high demand from their children. They demand full obedience from their children – no questions asked. Usually, these parents would have structured environment or clear rules to their demands.

In Baumrind’s research, children with authoritarian parents grow up to be obedient, proficient but they scored lower in terms of happiness, social competence and self-esteem.

Permissive Parenting Style

Permissive parents do not require much from their children but are highly supportive of their children. They would often be categorized as indulgent parents by allowing their children to what they wished with no boundaries, control or consequences.

Children with permissive parents may struggle with authorities, impulsive behavior and may encounter more issues in relationships and social interactions.

Neglectful / Uninvolved Parenting Style

Children raised by neglectful or uninvolved parents grow up in an environment that is neither supportive nor demanding. These parents may have issues or concern with their own life and therefore, not able to meet the demands or needs of their children.

Children with neglectful parents tend to be more impulsive, may have more delinquent behavior or in severe cases, have mental issues such as depression and suicidal behavior.

What can you, as parents, do?

Numerous studies and researches have been conducted over the years on the effect of these parenting style. The recent development includes studies if any of these parenting styles can produce successful children across region or culture. Authoritative parenting has been dominant in the Western culture whereas Chinese culture tends to skew towards authoritarian parenting.

Despite these studies, what we can learn from these researches are various way we engage with our children will affect their future. It can be the level of support we provide for them or getting them to meet demand or challenges.

As parents, we need to understand our children and be flexible in our approaches. For younger children, we may need to be more authoritarian – where we set clear boundaries and expectations. We establish rules at home on what are negotiable such as whether shower time is at 6pm or 8pm or if your child would prefer carrots or corn. The non-negotiables are such as no climbing on chairs without adult supervision or anything related to safety of your child.

As our children grows up, we can start to teach them skills to be more independent. Skills such as preparing breakfast, frying an egg, spread butter on bread or operating a blender and washing machine etc. As their competency grew, our parenting approach may shift towards more authoritative – providing support when our child needs it such as learning new skills, and demanding them to be responsible for their choices – to clean up when they spilled drinks for running in the house.

When our children approach teens and young adulthood, our parenting style may need to move towards permissive style. We may need to allow our children to start making decisions on their own while ensuring that they have thought things through and understand the consequences of their decision. Our children will learn to make decision from small matters and gradually moving towards bigger decisions in life.

As parents, we cannot expect our children to be able to make decision on their career choices at 17 if we did not provide sufficient exposure to them. It is daunting to make life decisions. Knowing that this one decision will affect the rest of your life. However, if your child has been given opportunity for the past 15 years to make small decisions on day-to-day basis, this BIG decision at 17 may not be a difficult choice.

Read more on Parenting styles: An Evidence-based, cross cultural guide.

Or if you have a child with special needs, read our Parenting children with special needs sharing.

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