Parenting Styles Classification

Subject: Family, Life & Experiences
Pages: 5
Words: 1148
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: Bachelor

Different parenting styles can greatly affect the independence and social competence of a child. There is a variety of various styles, but this paper will focus on the four most widely recognized: authoritative, authoritarian, indulging, and neglectful.

Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting has been described as the most desirable style by the researcher Diana Baumrind, who has described it first (Baumrind 1966). It involves being responsive and demanding of the child. Responsive parenting refers to the parents being attentive to their child’s needs and interests. Demanding parents set high expectations for their children. They expect certain levels of competence and success. Making the child follow certain behavioral patterns is also a part of demanding to parent. This style has been preferred by Baumrind since she stated that parents should create rules while being affectionate with their children. This approach answers both concerns. An authoritative parent sets goals for their child and helps them achieve them. They also support autonomy, as long as the child remains within the rules. The parents teach their children ways to achieve the goals and instruct them on proper interpersonal interactions. They reinforce good behavior and success with praise and rewards. When this approach is taken, the child develops high social competence and is able to adapt and act independently as a member of society. They also learn to follow certain rules and restrain themselves. That allows for better self-control and self-discipline, increasing the child’s chances to become successful in the future. There have been a lot of debates about parenting approaches, but authoritative parenting is widely recognized as one of the best possible styles.

Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parenting is characterized by the parents being demanding and unresponsive. Unresponsive parents ignore their children and do not pay attention to their personalities or wishes. It is important to consider that responsiveness is not measured by the amount of time spent with the child. Without emotional connection and consideration, responsiveness is impossible. This style is sometimes named a “Strict Father Model.” It was considered “too hard” by Baumrind. A child growing up in such an environment will face a lot of demands and no support in achieving them. The authoritarian parents are often distant, only paying attention to the child when punishing them or setting new goals for them. Corporal punishment is a widespread instrument of authoritarian parents. Instead of supporting children in their attempts to follow the rules and achieve the goals, such parents prefer to punish for the lack of results. The child’s initiative and preferences are ignored or even punished. The parents consider themselves the ultimate authority their child must follow without a doubt (Willams, Ciarrochi & Heaven 2012). Often, the only reward a child receives for the good results is the lack of punishment.

This approach to parenting can be highly destructive to the child’s social competence and mental health. Children of authoritarian parents tend to suffer from low self-esteem and lack of self-identification (Stassen Berger 2011). They often struggle with interpersonal interactions since parents fail to teach them how to judge human behavior and react properly. They also tend to fail in setting their own goals without parents telling them what to do and how. This style of parenting is typical for Asian countries which show high teenage suicide rates. Some researchers link this phenomenon with the downsides of authoritarian upbringing which fails to properly prepare the child for their role as a member of society (Santrock 2007). It is focused on the short-term success of the child and creates rigid behavioral patterns which cannot be used adaptively when the child reaches adulthood. This approach can be productive if the child is mentally resilient and can cope with the lack of affection. However, in such cases authoritative parenting is still likely to present better results.

Indulgent Parenting

Indulgent parenting is characterized by being responsive but undemanding. The parents respond to the traits of character their child displays and try to satisfy all of their needs. They do not set any goals or expect anything of their child, treating them as a friend and companion rather than somebody who depends on them and needs tutoring. Baumrind states that this style of parenting is “too soft.” This approach can have positive results under certain conditions. If the child easily gets interested with new activities and is competitive by nature, the parents utilizing this approach can allow him to explore and participate in activities at his own pace.

On the other hand, if the child is lazy and lacks initiative, this style of parenting will reinforce those qualities making them inert and socially incompetent in the future. The children raised like this can also lack self-control and discipline since their parents did not promote such behaviors. That can lead to drug or alcohol abuse, as well as violent behavior in the future (Baumrind 1991). This style of parenting also fails to relate the importance of success to the child. As a result, a child can become uncompetitive decreasing their chances to become successful. This approach also presents a serious issue if a child has violent or deviant tendencies. While authoritative parents can teach the child self-control, growing up in an indulgent family helps the tendencies become pathologies.

Neglectful Parenting

Neglectful parenting is characterized as unresponsive and undemanding. This style of parenting was not even considered by Braumind when she was creating her first classification since she did not consider it a variation of normal parenting practices. Neglectful parents pay minimum attention to their child. They are cold and detached. They do not set any goals or control the child’s upbringing in any meaningful way. This approach combines the negative sides of authoritarian and indulgent parenting styles without the benefits of either of those. The lack of guidance and teaching slows down the development and increases the risks of developing destructive tendencies. The lack of attachment can be more detrimental to the psychosocial development than violence.

The research by Maccoby and Martin conducted in 1983 discovered that children raised by neglectful parents were underdeveloped psychosocially, showed poor school performance, while experiencing high levels of internalized distress and problem behavior (Steinberg et al. 1994). That shows, that without affection and guidance, children fail to set their goals properly, cannot adequately interact with their peers and suffer from developing psychological issues. Such upbringing can result in long-term issues with motivation, self-image, and personal development. Many dysfunctional families display either neglectful or authoritarian approach to upbringing, highlighting them as the two least desirable parenting styles.


While some psychologists describe other parenting styles, the four described in this paper are the most basic ones. They relate to almost any family, and while there are variations, this classification covers the most important aspects of parenting. Any family can use this system to analyze their own parenting style and address some mistakes or imperfections preventing them from raising their child properly.


Baumrind, D 1966, ‘Effects of Authoritative Parental Control on Child Behavior’, Child Development, vol. 37, no. 4, pp. 887-907.

Baumrind, D 1991, ‘The Influence of Parenting Style on Adolescent Competence and Substance Use’, The Journal of Early Adolescence, vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 56-95.

Santrock, JW 2007, A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development, McGraw-Hill, New York, NY.

Stassen Berger, K 2011, The Developing Person Through the Lifespan, Worth Publishers, London, UK.

Steinberg, L, Lamborn, S, Darling, N, Mounts, N & Dornbusch, S 1994, ‘Over-Time Changes in Adjustment and Competence among Adolescents from Authoritative, Authoritarian, Indulgent, and Neglectful Families’, Child Development, vol. 65, no.3, pp.754-770.

Williams, K, Ciarrochi, J, & Heaven, P 2012, ‘Inflexible Parents, Inflexible Kids: A 6-Year Longitudinal Study of Parenting Style and the Development of Psychological Flexibility in Adolescents’, Journal Of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 41, no. 8, pp. 1053–1066.