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Types of Parenting Styles and Effects On Children

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Last Update: September 18, 2022.


When it comes to parenting, there is a great deal of diversity among families. Cultural backgrounds have a major impact on how the family unit exists and how children are reared. In the last several years, the population of the United States of America has had a makeup. Changes driven by immigration (with different cultural, ethnic, and spiritual ideologies), socioeconomic status, and single-parent families are some of the factors that determine a variety of parenting styles among families. As per the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau data, ¼ of children lived in single-parent families, and three-fourths lived in households with two married parents. These patterns differ when race and ethnicity are considered. Although children can thrive in all types of family environments, data suggest that, on average, children living in single-parent families fare less well than their counterparts.

The definition of culture refers to a pattern of social norms, values, language, and behavior shared by individuals. As a result, parents are affected by their culture. When it comes to self-regulation, parenting approaches vary across cultures concerning promoting attention, compliance, delayed gratification, executive function, and effortful control.

Every parent has a different approach in how to interact and guide their children. A child’s morals, principles, and conduct are generally established through this bond. Different researchers have grouped parenting styles into three, four, five, or more psychological constructs. This article's content will only focus on four parenting categories: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. Every category employs a unique approach to how parents raise their children. Generally, each parent will fall into one of these categories and sometimes have some characteristics from another category. Parenting style can also be situation-dependent.

Issues of Concern

Authoritarian Parenting

Parents of this style tend to have a one-way mode of communication where the parent establishes strict rules that the child obeys. There is little to no room for negotiations from the child, and the rules are not usually explained. They expect their children to uphold these standards while making no errors. Mistakes usually lead to punishment. Authoritarian parents are normally less nurturing and have high expectations with limited flexibility. 

Children that grow up with authoritarian parents will usually be the most well-behaved in the room because of the consequences of misbehaving. Additionally, they are better able to adhere to the precise instructions required to reach a goal. Furthermore, this parenting style can result in children who have higher levels of aggression but may also be shy, socially inept, and unable to make their own decisions.[1] This aggression can remain uncontrolled as they have difficulty managing anger as they were not provided with proper guidance. They have poor self-esteem, which further reinforces their inability to make decisions.[2] Strict parental rules and punishments often influence the child to rebel against authority figures as they grow older.  

Authoritative Parenting

This type of parent normally develops a close, nurturing relationship with their children. They have clear guidelines for their expectations and explain their reasons associated with disciplinary actions. Disciplinary methods are used as a way of support instead of punishment. Not only can children have input into goals and expectations, but there are also frequent and appropriate levels of communication between the parent and their child. In general, this parenting style leads to the healthiest outcomes for children but requires a lot of patience and effort on both parties. 

Authoritative parenting results in children who are confident, responsible, and able to self-regulate.[1][3] They can manage their negative emotions more effectively, which leads to better social outcomes and emotional health. Since these parents also encourage independence, their children will learn that they are capable of accomplishing goals on their own. This results in children who grow up with higher self-esteem. Also, these children have a high level of academic achievement and school performance.[4]

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parents tend to be warm, nurturing and usually have minimal or no expectations. They impose limited rules on their children. Communication remains open, but parents allow their children to figure things out for themselves. These low levels of expectation usually result in rare uses of discipline. They act more like friends than parents. 

Limited rules can lead to children with unhealthy eating habits, especially regarding snacks.[5] This can result in increased risks for obesity and other health problems later in the child’s life. The child also has a lot of freedom as they decide their bedtime, if or when to do homework, and screen time with the computer and television.[6] Freedom to this degree can lead to other negative habits as the parent does not provide much guidance on moderation. Overall, children of permissive parents usually have some self-esteem and decent social skills. However, they can be impulsive, demanding, selfish, and lack self-regulation.[7][8]

Uninvolved Parenting

Children are given a lot of freedom as this type of parent normally stays out of the way. They fulfill the child’s basic needs while generally remaining detached from their child’s life. An uninvolved parent does not utilize a particular disciplining style and has a limited amount of communication with their child. They tend to offer a low amount of nurturing while having either few or no expectations of their children. 

The children of uninvolved parents usually are resilient and may even be more self-sufficient than children with other types of upbringing. However, these skills are developed out of necessity. Additionally, they might have trouble controlling their emotions, less effective coping strategies, may have academic challenges, and difficulty with maintaining or nurturing social relationships.[9][10]

Clinical Significance

Characteristics of a parent’s upbringing style may continue to be prevalent in the child’s behaviors and actions as they age. As a child grows older, they can be affected by other factors that further shape their conduct or possibly change it entirely (i.e., therapy, culture, job, and social circle). With regards to health outcomes, it is important to identify which areas of concern are related to the upbringing style of a patient’s parents (i.e., the habit of unmonitored snacking) and address the issues at that level. These issues become relatively more important when it comes to behavioral/ psychological intervention.

Becoming culturally competent whenever possible is a great asset for providers who take care of pediatric patients. Understanding the family background, how rules are set, and discipline styles will allow the clinician to understand the dynamics of the family unit. Once the provider is familiarized with the parental rearing techniques, identifying, managing, or referring families will be an easier task.

Nursing, Allied Health, and Interprofessional Team Interventions

Child interventions may require knowledge of their parent's upbringing style, especially if physical or verbal abuse is suspected. Understanding the child's home environment can lead to better patient outcomes as more personalized approaches can be taken towards the child's wellbeing.

Review Questions


Masud H, Ahmad MS, Cho KW, Fakhr Z. Parenting Styles and Aggression Among Young Adolescents: A Systematic Review of Literature. Community Ment Health J. 2019 Aug;55(6):1015-1030. [PubMed: 31102163]
Martínez I, García JF. Impact of parenting styles on adolescents' self-esteem and internalization of values in Spain. Span J Psychol. 2007 Nov;10(2):338-48. [PubMed: 17992960]
Morris AS, Silk JS, Steinberg L, Myers SS, Robinson LR. The Role of the Family Context in the Development of Emotion Regulation. Soc Dev. 2007 May 01;16(2):361-388. [PMC free article: PMC2743505] [PubMed: 19756175]
Pong SL, Johnston J, Chen V. Authoritarian Parenting and Asian Adolescent School Performance: Insights from the US and Taiwan. Int J Behav Dev. 2010 Jan;34(1):62-72. [PMC free article: PMC4026298] [PubMed: 24850978]
Lopez NV, Schembre S, Belcher BR, O'Connor S, Maher JP, Arbel R, Margolin G, Dunton GF. Parenting styles, food-related parenting practices, and children's healthy eating: A mediation analysis to examine relationships between parenting and child diet. Appetite. 2018 Sep 01;128:205-213. [PMC free article: PMC7529118] [PubMed: 29920321]
Langer SL, Crain AL, Senso MM, Levy RL, Sherwood NE. Predicting child physical activity and screen time: parental support for physical activity and general parenting styles. J Pediatr Psychol. 2014 Jul;39(6):633-42. [PMC free article: PMC4092246] [PubMed: 24812256]
Leeman RF, Patock-Peckham JA, Hoff RA, Krishnan-Sarin S, Steinberg MA, Rugle LJ, Potenza MN. Perceived parental permissiveness toward gambling and risky behaviors in adolescents. J Behav Addict. 2014 Jun;3(2):115-23. [PMC free article: PMC4117283] [PubMed: 25215222]
Piotrowski JT, Lapierre MA, Linebarger DL. Investigating Correlates of Self-Regulation in Early Childhood with a Representative Sample of English-Speaking American Families. J Child Fam Stud. 2013 Apr;22(3):423-436. [PMC free article: PMC3602616] [PubMed: 23525149]
Nijhof KS, Engels RC. Parenting styles, coping strategies, and the expression of homesickness. J Adolesc. 2007 Oct;30(5):709-20. [PubMed: 17258804]
Kuppens S, Ceulemans E. Parenting Styles: A Closer Look at a Well-Known Concept. J Child Fam Stud. 2019;28(1):168-181. [PMC free article: PMC6323136] [PubMed: 30679898]

Disclosure: Terrence Sanvictores declares no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies.

Disclosure: Magda Mendez declares no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies.

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