What Your Parenting Styles Say (and Don't Say) about You

Analyze your parenting approach

Understand the four parenting styles and how they impact your children.

Have you ever thought about your own parenting style? I’m sure you have to one degree or another.

No doubt you have methods and techniques based on how you were parented, as well as what you and your spouse value.

But did you know that developmental psychologist, Diana Baumrind and others have identified four specific methods? Based on her studies, Baumrind acknowledged the following parenting styles. 

What are the four parenting styles?


  • Warm and nurturing
  • High expectations
  • Clear rules
  • Responsive & willing to listen
  • Supportive & forgiving
  • Value independence


  • Unresponsive
  • Strict rules
  • High expectations
  • Expect obedience
  • Harsh discipline without explanation
  • Less nurturing


  • Warm and responsive
  • Few or no rules
  • Low expectations
  • Indulgent
  • Lenient
  • Nurturing and communicative
  • Avoid confrontation


  • Unresponsive
  • No rules
  • Detached and uninvolved
  • Indifferent
  • Little guidance or structure

How does parenting style impact kids?

Generally, behavior studies have shown typical outcomes that each approach has on children.

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  • Authoritative parenting styles often result in children who are self-disciplined and think for themselves, perform higher academically, have more self-esteem and better social skills, are happy, capable, and successful.
  • Authoritarian parenting styles tend to result in children who are obedient and proficient, but tend to have low self-esteem, poorer social skills, lower academic performance and kids who lack happiness.
  • Permissive parenting generally leads to children who are low in happiness and self-regulation. These children tend to be egocentric and have low impulse control. They lack social skills, have problematic relationships and often experience problems with authority. They also tend to perform poorly in school.
  • Neglectful or uninvolved parenting styles score lowest across all areas. These children have impulsive behaviors, tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem, and are less competent than peers.

What does this say and not say about you?

  • No matter what your approach, you care about the well being of your children. You want the best for them and are doing the best you know how. Except in extreme circumstances, even uninvolved parents truly love their children, they may just lack the resources to show it.
  • Your parenting style does not define you. Though authoritative parenting tends to be the most positive approach, you may see yourself following a different method. Use this information to evaluate the positives and the negatives in your style and where you may want to seek growth.
  • We all have room for improvement and need the support of those around us. When I see a mom calmly dealing with an upset child, I want to be around that mom to learn from her. When I encounter a respectful and polite teenager in my community, I seek out her mom to counsel me on what to expect in a few years. Thankfully, we can grow and change as parents (as will our children).
  • Aligning with a certain parenting style can only take us so far. There are many other factors involved in the development of our children, not the least of which is their own personality. Our culture, social influences, and how children actually perceive the ways they are parented will all contribute to their behavior as well.

Honestly, I can see moments of each approach throughout my day. I see myself being permissive, authoritarian and even neglectful when I don’t want to have to confront a difficult behavior. My desire is to set high, realistic standards, while offering support and guidance.

- 4 Parenting Styles – Characteristics and Effects 
- Why Parenting Styles Matter When Raising Children by Kendra Cherry
- What is My Parenting Style? Four Types of Parenting

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.

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