Four of the most commonly-known parenting styles are labeled as authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. How children are affected by each of these different parenting styles, either positively or negatively, is, of course, a topic of great debate among parents and educators.
Although it’s likely that many parents will demonstrate a mix of parenting styles towards their offspring, it’s useful to recognise how each style in its extreme may either help or hinder child development outcomes such as emotional stability, self-reliance, academic achievement and self-esteem.
Authoritarian parents apply rules in an extremely strict way and are unlikely to allow room for much negotiation with their children. There is an emphasis on discipline, obedience, and punishments, rather than cooperation, behavior management, and rewards. As such, children with authoritarian parents may develop tactics such as secrecy and deceit to avoid their parents’ anger at any mistakes or misdemeanors. Children may also lack confidence in themselves and experience outbursts of anger, frustration, and resentment because their opinions are constantly ignored.
Authoritative parents also apply rules and consequences, but they also try to enable a more positive approach by reinforcing and rewarding positive behaviors, enabling negotiation, and letting children voice their own opinions. Because their views and feelings are validated, it’s likely that children whose parents are authoritative may grow up to become thoughtful adults who feel secure enough to take responsibility and make their own rational decisions.
Parents who are permissive tend to show leniency rather than authority towards their children, perhaps believing that children thrive best in an environment where there is minimum parental control. Rules may be set, but they are less likely to be enforced, and therefore, children receive little guidance on the decisions they make or the behaviors they choose. One might assume that permissive parenting will help children gain positive traits such as independence and self-reliance more quickly, but in reality, children who are raised by permissive parents are more likely to struggle with academic learning and may even succumb to behavioral problems. Health problems like obesity and tooth decay may also be an issue due to the absence of parental monitoring of junk food intake and of guidance towards good habits of dental hygiene.
Children whose parents demonstrate a clear lack of involvement will receive little attention, guidance, and emotional support. Uninvolved parents may spend little time with their children, and on occasions they may not know where their children are. Some uninvolved parents may even leave children to their own devices to the point where the latter experience neglect of their basic needs, such as food and health care. Parental neglect of children may be unintentional due to problems such as mental health issues or substance abuse, or it may develop gradually over time because parents are overburdened with long working hours. Uninvolved parenting can produce long-term negative consequences for children’s academic performance and self-esteem.
Of equal significance to the parenting style (or styles) adopted within a family unit are the day-to-day habits and practices that take place, which can influence children’s happiness, health, and development. For example, some basic, positive indicators are routines that ensure children eat regular, nutritious meals, get sufficient amounts of exercise and sleep, maintain good hygiene standards such as brushing their teeth and enjoy a balance of academic, social, and leisure time pursuits.