14 Parenting Styles Demystified

Happy Parents Day from American SPCC The Nation's Voice for Children

Long term health and happiness start in childhood, and a child’s parental interactions are a key aspect of their well being starting very early on in their lives. Parenting style is the way that parents convey their values, attitudes, expectations and affection to their children. They’re a common topic of conversation, but taking a closer look at the 14 most common intentional and harmful parenting styles can offer insight, inspiration and traits to avoid for those tackling the challenge of parenthood.

The Four Styles of Deliberate Parenting

Sometimes called the Baumrind parenting types, the first four parenting “styles” are larger umbrellas under which many subgroups of parenting styles exist. Understanding the basics of these archetypes can help parents understand where their parenting style naturally falls, understand their intuitive strengths and identify points where they’d like to make changes.

1. Authoritative

Authoritative parents are parents, not friends, but they’re not shy about praising kids. They’re firm but warm, holding high expectations but prepared to reward kids when they’re met. This style tends to reinforce good behaviors and lead to positive, respectful parent-child relationships.

2. Authoritarian

Authoritarian parents take rules seriously, and they want their kids to know it. They’re not particularly warm, not keen on excuses and expect obedience. This style can lead to a failure to bond emotionally as well as rebellious behavior, anxiety and delinquency.

3. Permissive

Permissive parents are enablers, but it comes from a place of genuine love. They want their kids to enjoy their childhood, so they’re less likely to enforce rules and more likely to provide toys and let bad behavior slide. This style can lead to a cordial parent-child relationship, but also impulsive or materialistic behavior as kids get older.

4. Uninvolved

Uninvolved parents are either not present physically, emotionally or both, and they don’t feel emotionally tied to their child’s well being. They may be actively abusive to their child or overlooking abuse in their surroundings. This neglect can have countless consequences.

Intentional Parenting Styles

5. Attachment

Secure for baby but demanding for parents, attachment parenting means co-sleeping, sling carriers, and absolutely no crying it out. It’s all about a nurturing bond that keeps parents and babies close, and can lead to greater empathy and compassion in kids.

6. Gentle

Everyone makes mistakes, and gentle parents make it a priority to be understanding and maintain a good relationship with their child. This style doesn’t have to be overly permissive, plus it may help kids feel less hostile.

7. Free Range

Hesitant to overprotect, free range parents don’t want to shelter their kids too much. Within reason, they advocate letting them roam and encouraging their belief in their own abilities. It’s great for fostering independence, but the obvious downside is the potential for unsupervised mischief and unsafe situations.

8. Slow

Life is hectic, and slow parents consciously decide to remove over-commitment, clutter and invasive media from their kids’ lives. The goal is to give them plenty of time to recharge and pursue their authentic interests, and it can encourage early self sufficiency and confidence.

9. Tiger

Perfectionist is one way to describe a tiger parent, for whom success is not optional Failure to meet or exceed expectations is punished with insults, threats and worse. Children may be more disciplined, but are often at risk for verbal/emotional abuse.

10. Gender Neutral

Gender neutral parents prefer to allow their child to choose their gender identity independently and may keep their biological gender a secret from non-family. Children may be less likely to engage in stereotyping, but may feel confusion about their identity.

Harmful Parenting Styles

11. Helicopter

Just as the name suggests, helicopter parents hover around their children, poised to protect them from any perceived “harm”. Even when they succeed, they deprive their child of opportunities to learn and grow on their own. This can make children feel hostile, embarrassed and/or overly dependent on parents.

12. Snowplough

Whether they deserve it or not, the children of snowplough parents are getting the best. Their parents will push their way into schools, events, plays, teams and scholarships, taking away their child’s chance to earn things as well as their drive toward personal accomplishments.

13. Narcissistic

Often stemming from narcissistic personality disorder, narcissistic parents expect their children to serve them on every level. Not only must they obey their parents’ every whim, they may be the favorite one day and emotionally abused the next. This can lead to emotional trauma, suicidal thoughts and other serious mental illness.

14. Toxic

This parenting style is the hallmark of child abuse. Children may be neglected, their basic needs going unmet. They’re likely to be abused by parents, or by other parties as parents fail to intervene. If child abuse is suspected, it’s never too soon to act – only too late. Abuse is likely to lead to lifelong psychological trauma and must be ended as soon as possible.

Parenting styles run the gamut, and the truth is that most parents see aspects of themselves in several. It’s more than fine to cherry pick the best of what’s around, and knowing which traits can lead to issues down the line can help to squelch bad parental habits and keep everyone happy and healthy.

Author Bio

Neve is a writer, teacher, and mother of three. She seeks simplicity and humor in parenting and passionately advocates for more childhood play. You can catch her blogging at WeTheParents.org.

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