The 4 Parenting Styles: What Type of Parent Are You?

Learn How Your Style of Parenting Affects Your Child Later in Life

Growing up, I always viewed parenting as chaotic, loud, and difficult; a never-ending battle of keeping us kids clean, fed, and entertained, while trying to keep a roof over our head. 

While my initial understanding is mostly accurate; parenting goes way beyond the requirements of meeting your child’s basic survival needs. It’s no surprise parents have a huge influence on how their children turn out later in life, including their personality, behavioral habits, emotional development, and many other factors.

For quite some time, psychologists have been interested in how parents directly affect child development. As one can imagine, tying the links between a parent’s specific actions and the future behavior of their children is damn near impossible.

Man yelling at his wife sitting on the couch and a picture of a man and woman smiling and jumping in the air |What Type of Parent Are You? The 4 Parenting Styles

Nonetheless, researchers have suggested that there is a connection between the style of our parenting and how our children behave as adults.

The parenting styles are broken down into multiple facets, which include discipline tactics, how warm and cuddly your vibe is, your outlook on the child’s maturity and control, and preferred style of communication.

Let’s dig a little deeper into the four parenting styles and how they can impact your child’s behavior. You may be surprised at what parenting style you rock.  

What are the four parenting styles?

Researchers have categorized four types of parenting styles:

  • Authoritarian
  • Authoritative
  • Permissive
  • Uninvolved

1. Authoritarian Parenting

Do you agree with any of these statements below?

  • I judge and make fun of my child’s emotional expression.
  • Spanking or slapping my child is the only way to stop bad behavior.
  • I don’t consider my kid’s feelings when making parenting decisions.

If you agree with most of these words, it’s possible you’re an authoritarian parent. Authoritarian parents believe children should follow the rules to a T, no ifs, ands, or buts.  

little girl crying

It’s typical to hear Authoritarian parents shout, “Because I said so,” when the child asks why something is the way that it is. Another thing a child may hear from a parent who rocks this parenting style, is, “stop it, you’re fine!”

Authoritarian parents have no interest or time in negotiating with a child. The child’s feelings are often dismissed. The prime focus is on obedience.

The Authoritarian parent has lots of rules and restrictions that they strictly enforce. If the rules are not followed, you will rarely see them taking the opportunity to teach the child how to make better decisions. Their preferred way is to use corporal punishment, such as spankings, to make the kids feel sorry for their mistakes.

Raised by strict authoritarian parents, their off-spring tend to be rule-followers. But, with every potential upside comes a downside.

angry drill sargeant

Studies show that children who were slapped or spanked at the age of two were more likely to show later problems with aggression and attention. Additionally, children of authoritarian parents are more likely to suffer from self-esteem issues because their opinions are thrown to the side like a used diaper. They learn that their feelings are wrong or not valid. They may learn that there is something fundamentally wrong with them because of the way they feel. They tend to have trouble regulating their own emotions.

2. Authoritative Parenting

Do any of these statements resonate with you?

  • It is important to encourage kids to be responsible and think for themselves.
  • I use emotional situations as a time to listen to my child and empathize with soothing words and affection; I help the child label the emotion he or she is feeling.
  • It is important to consider a child’s feelings when enforcing rules and providing consequences.

If those statements ring true with you, you may be an authoritative parent. Authoritative parents establish rules and consequences, but they consider their child’s feelings when deciding which route to take. Yet, they still make it clear that adults rule the household.

Mom and her son standing next to water

I know my parents would probably refer to this as “hippy-dippy” parenting because of all the lovey-doveyness talk about feelings.

It is common for these parent types to take the time and inquire about their child’s feelings or what the child is thinking about. When a child asks, “why?” they typically receive a thoughtful response in return.

Investing time and energy curbing bad behavioral issues before they begin, you can find these parents reading top-notch parenting blogs and skimming Pinterest for articles on positive reinforcement. Children raised with authoritative discipline tactics tend to be happier and more successful throughout life.  

Related: 5 Ways To Raise a Cultured Kid

3. Permissive Parenting

Do any of these statements sound like you?

  • I freely accept all emotional expression from my child.
  • It’s rare that I provide a consequence when my child acts out.
  • Children learn best with little interference from the parent.

If those statements mesh well with you, you might be a permissive parent. Permissive parenting seems to be the “no discipline” approach to discipline. Permissive parents, also known as laissez-faire parenting, usually let their kids do whatever and only attempt to control their child if there is a problem.

If their child acts out, they typically display an attitude of “kids will be kids.” Here’s looking at you, Mom, who laughs when her kids hit strangers in the checkout line.

Sometimes, they will enforce a consequence, but most times, they won’t follow through. When a child begs for the return of video game privileges or promises to do better if they can get out of timeout, the parent often gives in. Basically, they forgive easily, try to come off as super friendly, and allow their kids to do whatever their heart desires.  

Children raised with a permissive parenting style start seeing their parent as their friend. The parent may encourage their child to talk to them about what’s going on in their world, but they typically won’t try to discourage their child’s negative behavior or bad decisions.

Growing up with these type of parents sets the child up to suffer academically, while also adopting behavioral problems. Many of the children have more behavioral problems because they don’t develop a respect for authority and rules.

4. Uninvolved Parenting

Does any of these statements ring true for you?

  • I don’t ask my child about school or their homework.
  • I rarely know where my child is or who she is with.
  • My child and I don’t spend much time together.

If those statements sound familiar, you might be an uninvolved parent. Uninvolved parents are less inclined to know where their children are or what they are up to.  

It’s an extreme approach to hands-off parenting. There aren’t many rules, much guidance, affection, or parental attention.

Uninvolved parents take on the view that a child can raise them self. They don’t ensure that their child’s basic needs are met.

While, it’s sad that uninvolved parents can be downright neglectful, it’s not always deliberate. Some parents with mental health issues or substance abuse problems may not have the ability to care for a child’s emotional and physical needs on a consistent basis.

In some cases, uninvolved parents aren’t up to date on child development. And sometimes, they’re just trying to survive themselves.

Children with this type of parenting style are more likely to struggle with low self-esteem and perform poorly in school. They also tend to have more behavior problems and rank low on the happiness scale.

The uninvolved parenting style is known to be one of the worst styles and can have damaging effects for children that stretch into the teen and adult years. Sadly, many offspring of this type of parenting end up in prison.

The Impact of Parenting Styles

What effect do these parenting styles have on your child’s development?

There are numerous other studies which have helped shed light on the impact of parenting styles on children.

Among the discoveries of these studies:

  • Authoritarian parenting styles typically lead to children who are accomplished and respectful, but they tend to rank lower in happiness, social competence, and self-esteem.
  • Authoritative parenting styles tend to have children who are happy, proficient, and successful.
  • Permissive parenting normally results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These kids are more likely to have problems with authority and not perform well in school.
  • Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across the board overall. A lack of self-control, low self-esteem, and a tendency to be less competent than their peers are just a few of the negative impacts when parents expect the children to raise themselves.

So, What Does All of This Mean?

You might not fit into one style; some parents sway between being very permissive and other days uber demanding and persnickety. There are days where I am having a bad day and I may exert more of an authoritarian style of parenting, then I see the error of my ways, take a time out, and work towards shifting my attitude to align more closely to the authoritative parenting style.

When I was a child, my parents exerted the authoritarian style of parenting. I was told to “shut-up” daily, was smacked in the mouth, and was routinely spanked with leather belts, ping pong paddles, wooden spoons, you name it. I learned to comply based on fear vs. why I should choose to do the right thing.

I’m not sharing these things to gather a pity party, I’m sharing these thoughts because I still turned out okay in the end.

My parents did the best they could with the knowledge they had. Now, that I am equipped with even more information, I will take what I have learned and apply these methods to how I parent my children. And, believe me, there sure as hell won’t be a belt in sight.  

The studies are clear that authoritative parenting is the best parenting style. 

If you have made it this far, it is also clear you care how you come across to your child and the impact your actions have on your child’s future self.

If you fall into a category that you are not proud of, know that you can still maintain a rich relationship with your child while letting them know “who’s in charge” in a healthy way.

What parenting style are you? Are there any changes you would like to make moving forward?

What type of mother are you? 
Pictures of moms with their children

12 thoughts

    1. Thank you! Reading research articles can always be a little rough to read, so I tried to put it in simple, easy to read language. Glad you made it through!


    1. Yes, you’re right! I don’t think we will ever be “perfect” parents, but at least we will learn where we need to improve. 💓


  1. Thank you for taking the time to explain the different parenting styles, as I’ve been learning more about them myself.


  2. Very informative article! I remember learning these different styles in college. As someone who worked with children many years, I recognize all these types of parents. As a parent myself, I’d say I am mostly authoritative, at least I try to be, I may at times become a little permissive or swing the other way and be a little authoritarian but I am definitely involved:) Thanks for all the good info!


  3. This is seriously a wonderful post on parenting! I remember not even hearing these terms until college. It’s so important for everyone to know this information because it definitely impacts our kiddos!!


  4. I don’t think I fit into any of the parenting catafories per se. I have some qualites from categories 2-4. I don’t think I would change anything either because my older kids are doing well in school, work, and are independent. Which reassures me that my younger child will be ok. I think the post just reassured me that I’m doing ok. Which is great. Thank you.


  5. Great breakdown of the different styles. I’m definitely trying to be more authoritative. While I grew up believing in authoritarian parenting, I’m now realizing how it’s affected my life so negatively and I don’t want that for my son.


    1. I completely get where you’re coming from. Kudos to you for trying to change it up and make a difference. It isn’t always easy to stray away from what you’re used to.


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