Parenting Styles

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What kind of parent do you think you’ll be? Will you be strict? Will your kids have an early curfew? Or will you be a more lax parent, allowing candy and television before bed?

Psychologists have actually put a lot of thought into these questions, as different parenting styles affect children in different ways.

Diana Baumrind is one of those psychologists, as well as one of the most well-known researchers on parenting styles. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley. In the 1960s, Baumrind developed her Pillar Theory, which draws relationships between basic parenting styles and children’s behavior. See if you recognize your parents in any of Baumrind’s styles of parenting.

Before we get to the parenting styles, however, do you remember the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears? In the story, Goldilocks tries a few different porridges, deeming one too hot, one too cold and one just right. Okay, this might seem like a totally random point to bring up, but hang on. Baumrind actually distinguished among parenting styles by identifying one as too hard, one as too soft and one as just right.

In her study she and her research team followed more than 100 middle class children of preschool-age. Baumrind’s primary research methods were interviews and observation.

The aim of Diana Baumrind’s child parent behavior study was to formulate and evaluate the effect of the most typical Western parenting styles.

Baumrind felt that there werefour dimensions of parent-child interactions: parental control, maturity demands, clarity of communication and nurturance. “Parental control” is related to such issues as enforcing rules. “Maturity demand” is the parental expectation that children perform up to their potential. “Clarity of communication” reflects the parents’ willingness to communicate with their children, solicit their opinions and use reasoning to obtain the desired behavior. “Nurturance” is related to parental expressions of warmth and approval, and protection of children’s physical and emotional well-being. Using these four dimensions, Baumrind identified four parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive-indulgent and permissive-uninvolved.

Authoritative Parenting

The authoritative style is considered the “ideal” parenting style and seems to produce children with high levels of self-reliance and self-esteem, who are socially responsible, independent and achievement-oriented, according to Education.com. Authoritative parents set clear expectations and have high standards. They monitor their children’s behavior, use discipline based on reasoning and encourage their children to make decisions and learn from their mistakes. They are also warm and nurturing, treating their children with kindness, respect and affection.

Authoritarian Parenting

Although the word sounds similar, authoritarian parenting is different in many ways from authoritative parenting. The authoritarian parent tends to set rigid rules, demand obedience and use strategies such as the withdrawal of love or approval to force a child to conform. These parents are more likely to use physical punishment or verbal insults to elicit the desired behavior. They lack the warmth of the authoritative parent and may seem aloof to their children. Children with authoritarian parents may be well-behaved, but they are also likely to be moody and anxious; they tend to be followers rather than leaders, according to Education.com.

Permissive-Indulgent Parenting

The permissive-indulgent parent is overflowing in parental warmth. This parent may be openly affectionate and loving but sets few or no limits, even when the child’s safety may be at risk. Permissive-indulgent parents make few demands for maturity or performance, and there are often no consequences for misbehavior. Children of permissive parents often have problems with controlling their impulses; they may display immaturity and be reluctant to accept responsibility, according to Dr. Anita Gurian, clinical assistant professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine.

Permissive-Uninvolved Parenting

Permissive-uninvolved parenting, also called simply “uninvolved parenting,” is characterized by the same lack of limits or demands seen in the permissive-indulgent style. However, the uninvolved parent displays little or no parental warmth. At its extreme, the uninvolved style can be neglectful or involve outright rejection of the child. Children with uninvolved parents are likely to have low levels of functioning in many areas. They tend to do poorly in school and, particularly as they move into high school, are more likely to exhibit delinquent behavior and to be depressed

Baumrind has studied the effects of corporal punishement on children, and has concluded that mild spanking, in the context of an authoritative (NOT authoritarian) parenting style, is unlikely to have a significant detrimental effect, if one is careful to control for other variables such as socioeconomic status. She observes that previous studies demonstrating a correlation between corporal punishment and bad outcomes failed to control for variables such as socioeconomic status. Low-income families are more likely to employ corporal punishment compared with affluent families. Children from low-income neighborhoods are more likely to commit violent crimes compared with children from affluent neighborhoods. But when appropriate controls are made for family income and other independent variables, Baumrind believes that mild corporal punishment per se does not increase the likelihood of bad outcomes. This assertion has in turn attracted criticism and counter-points from other researchers in the same publication, for example: Whether harmful or not, there is still no consistent evidence of beneficial effects!


Please select two (2) of Diana Baumrind’s parenting styles (feel fre to use all four parenting stiles explained above). Compare and contrast two (2) similarities and two (2) differences of the styles you chose. Next, describe the effectiveness of each of the styles.

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