Talking about parenting styles

Once you’ve decided that you want to be parents, chances are you’ll spend some time getting to the point of being parents-to-be. During this exciting and overwhelming period, it’s important to discuss what kind of parents you want to be

Written by Medibank
Shot of young blond boy blowing bubbles with the help of his mum at the playground

Getting on the same page about parenting techniques is important to do before your baby arrives. If one of you is keen on helicopter style parenting where you hover over your child’s every move, but the other believes in letting them call the shots from a young age, things could get ugly! In all seriousness though, these discussions can take some time, so you’re wise for getting onto them early.

As with all things parenting, you’ll find a lot of competing opinions online. Before you wade in and start finding out what people think about the different parenting styles, take the time to do some research and discover which methodologies resonate with you, and meet your goals.

Four major styles

Once you start your research, you’ll discover many different ideas, methodologies, courses, books, and, of course, experts. Underpinning these, you’ll probably start to recognise four major styles. These styles aren’t prescriptive; you might borrow from all of them to find a style that works for your family. But they’re a useful framework to use when you have your discussion, and to find out what resonates with you.

The history of the four styles

In the 1960s, research by Diana Baumrind gave rise to the idea that there are three main styles of parenting. This was examined again in 1983, and a fourth style was added.

The four styles are:

Authoritative parenting

This style is characterised by structure and support. Parents are warm but children are given clear and regular explanations of the rules they are expected to follow, and understand what the outcome will be if these are not followed. In this way, children are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions.

A child who experiences authoritative parenting may:

  • Understand their parent’s expectations and what they must do to meet them
  • Have a high degree of daily structure
  • Respond to situations in a socially-appropriate way.

Neglectful parenting (or uninvolved parenting)

As the name suggests, it’s not a style of parenting people aspire to. Characterised by detachment, children raised under this style generally have their basic needs met, in terms of housing and food, but don’t benefit from warmth, involvement and other broader displays of love.

A child who experiences neglectful parenting may:

  • Experience significant social and emotional difficulties
  • Find it difficult to form healthy relationships
  • Display a high level of independence and maturity.

Permissive parenting (or Indulgent Parenting)

‘No’ becomes a difficult word for permissive parents, who struggle to set boundaries for their children. Discipline seems inconsistent, and rules lenient. However, these parents are also highly nurturing and responsive, which can result in secure and confident children. The parent-child relationship seems more like that of equals or friends.

A child who experiences permissive parenting may:

  • Have strong self-esteem and well-developed social skills
  • Not have a high level of respect for authority
  • Be perceived as a ‘spoilt brat’, as they are used to having their own way.

Authoritarian parenting

This discipline-led approach, is less-responsive, and highly structured. This style of parenting is best described as ‘strict’ and runs the risk of limiting input from the child. Children raised in this way can seem obedient, but this doesn’t mean they are developing a fuller understanding of why they are expected to behave in a particular way.

  • A child who experiences authoritarian parenting may:
  • Struggle with the development of their personal ‘moral compass’
  • Rebel against the strict expectations they have been set
  • Feel disengaged and like they don’t have control.

Feel like you need some help?

There’s a lot of pressure out there to be the perfect parent, and it can be overwhelming at times. The fact that you’re taking the time to read up about it probably means you care enough to be a great parent. However, if you’re worried or struggling with the idea, you can call Parentline for advice.

Written by Medibank

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