There are as many parenting styles as there are parents. Every parent, every child, every family is different and there is no one-size-fits-all theory. When a child has behavioral problems or is diagnosed with a mental health illness, the parent’s first question is “was it something I did?” The fact is that it’s the overall style of action that impacts your child’s behavior.
Psychologists believe that there are two main components which determine your parenting style:
- How much independence are you willing to give your child?
- What level of strict obedience do you require from your child?
The main parenting styles can be broken up into four broad categories. The following descriptions will show how the chosen parenting style determines the child’s overall well-being in social skills, academic performance as well as their behavior.
The authoritarian parent is very strict and controlling with their main focus being on obedience. This parent does not like to be challenged and tends to punish instead of disciplining the child. There is no give-and-take with the child as the parent tends to be more demanding but not responsive.
Children from an authoritarian parent tend to be more timid with lower self-esteem. They lack spontaneity and rely strongly on a voice of authority in most situations. Many of these children do well academically and are well behaved but have terrible social skills. They are known to be a higher risk for depression and anxiety and are more likely to become hostile and aggressive.
The authoritative parent retains authority and control while also being warmer and more communicative. This parent tends to seek a balance between the child’s need for independence and the parent’s need to be obeyed. They are demanding and responsive while and being assertive but not intrusive or restrictive. There are high expectations for the child while also encouraging freedom of expression. The authoritative parenting style balances the clear high demands of the parent with the emotional responsiveness and recognition of the child’s feelings and opinions. Positive discipline strategies are used to reinforce good behavior.
The children raised by the authoritative parent is considered the best-adjusted. They have a sense of independence and grow up to be more competent adults. As the parenting style is well-balanced, the child is also well-balanced. They are able to be assertive but socially responsible and self-regulated while being cooperative. These children have really good academic and social skills and avoid problem behavior. They are also at the lowest risk of being diagnosed with depression or anxiety later in life.
Permissive parents are warm and accepting. They have few demands on their children and are more lenient as they avoid confrontation. They focus more on being a friend to their children and give in to their children’s demands in hopes of being liked. These parents tend to be more responsive than demanding. There are three main reasons for this parenting style:
- The parent is trying to compensate for what they lacked from their childhood (coming from a poor family, the parent buys the child all material good they ask for)
- They act conditionally by giving the child material good if they meet the parent’s demands
- The parent is too caught up in their own life and act out of indifference to the child. They tend to meet all the child’s material needs in exchange for no demands on the parent
Children raised by permissive parents tend to have a sense of entitlement as they believe that they deserve any material good and special treatment. They are more likely to display problem behavior and are less likely to perform well academically. They have high self-esteem and show better social skills while also having a lower risk of a depression or anxiety diagnosis.
The uninvolved parent demands nothing and gives nothing. They give their children complete freedom and very few rules. The children are expected to raise themselves. This parenting style is considered to be a form of child neglect. The three main reasons for an uninvolved parent are:
- The parent has mental health problems or substance abuse problems
- The parent lacks the general knowledge or understanding of child-rearing and development
- The parent tends to be overwhelmed by their own problems (bills, work, marital problems)
These children are the most likely to have poor social skills, academic performance, behavioral problems, low self-esteem and a higher risk of depression and anxiety.
The National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse (NCASA) did a survey with 1000 teens and found that: 
Hands-on parenting styles:
Children had a lower risk of substance abuse and a higher percentage of teens had good relationships with their parents.
Hands-off parenting styles:
Children had a higher risk of substance abuse and a lower percentage of teens had a good relationship with their parents.
The studies are clear that the authoritative parenting style is the best as it produced the best-rounded adults.  If you fit into one of the other parenting styles, don’t beat yourself up. A few simple steps can change your parenting style and help you develop a better relationship with your child.
By dedicating the time and effort into being the best parent you can be, you are already on the right track to maintaining a positive relationship with your child. The key is to establish a balance between authority and freedom.
Most parents dream of having a special bond
with their child in the teenage and adult years. Balance is key. At the end of
the day, are you not raising your child to be a valuable member of society?