Although every parent is free to choose what works for their family, one thing is certain: the type of parenting method you adopt has a huge impact on your child’s self-concept.
This article will briefly discuss the different parenting methods and which parenting style is most encouraged in modern America.
But before then, what’s parenting style anyways?
What Is Parenting Style?
Parenting style refers to the control method and emotional climate in which parents raise their kids.
The term is often confused with parenting practice, which refers to specific actions and strategies that parents use in their parenting.
Two parents can use the same parenting style but adopt different approaches when implementing parenting practices. This explains why there are usually varying degrees of outcomes, even for parents who use identical parenting styles.
Parenting style significantly impacts the behavior of children and can bring about different outcomes in child development.
The concept of parenting style was developed by renowned psychologist Diana Baumrind and later expanded by Maccoby and Martin.
I’m not going to bore you with all the research, history, and work surrounding parenting styles.
However, it is important to mention that all parenting styles are based on two aspects of parenting behavior, which are:
- Responsiveness: In simple terms, responsiveness refers to how far parents are willing to go to meet their children’s developmental and emotional needs. It is the parents’ degree of sensitivity to the needs of their children.
- Demandingness: This refers to the level of maturity that parents demand from their children. In other words, it is how far parents are involved in controlling their children’s behavior or the extent to which parents expect their children to behave more responsibly.
Based on these two parenting behaviors, psychologists identify four distinct parenting styles, which I’ll get into shortly.
Before then, I’ll like to remind you that kids are different and require different parenting practices (not parenting styles).
Regardless of which parenting style you currently adopt or looking to adopt, there all operate on a spectrum, from warm and accepting to cold and unaccepting.
Identifying which parenting style is most encouraged in modern America doesn’t necessarily mean you must use the same parenting practice for all your kids. Find out which approach works best and use it instead of sticking to a textbook definition that may not suit a particular child.
Four Types of Parenting Styles and their Effects on Children
Psychologists recognize the following four parenting styles:
1. Authoritarian Parenting
If you’ve ever seen a parent relating with their kids and you think, “That’s rather too hard!” then you already have an idea of what authoritarian parenting looks and feels like.
The authoritarian parenting style is a method of raising children in an emotional climate of low responsiveness and high demandingness.
This parenting style demands blind obedience from children, and the parents usually have high expectations of their kids. Authoritarian parenting only permits one-way communication where children do things because they are told to do so without regard to their feelings, opinions, or true needs.
There is no room for the children to express themselves in this parenting style. Instead, children must follow strict orders and laid down rules.
Parents who adopt this parenting style often resort to corporal punishment and other stern and harsh disciplinary measures to enforce control over their children.
The idea behind this form of control is to toughen up kids using harsh treatments.
Generally, these parents are not nurturing and are hardly responsive to the needs of their children.
Do you know any abusive parents? They typically fall into the authoritarian category.
Here’s the thing, though.
It will be wrong to say that all authoritarian parents are abusive.
Authoritarian parenting is not completely negative. For example, a disciplinarian ensures that their child does the right thing at all times. This way, the child learns correct and acceptable behavior both in the community and in the eyes of the law.
As you probably have figured out, this style of parenting can have some not-so-pleasant impact on children’s self-esteem.
Here are some other likely negative effects of this parenting style on children:
- Generally poor social skills and unhappy disposition
- Overall poor academic performance
- High tendency to engage in substance abuse and juvenile delinquencies
- Usually insecure and less independent
- Increased potential to develop behavioral problems
2. Permissive Parenting
The permissive parenting style is completely the opposite of an authoritative parent. This style is too soft and is characterized by high responsiveness and low demandingness.
If you know any “spoiled’ child, you are probably looking at a kid who has permissive parents.
These parents hardly enforce any consistent rules but are very quick to respond to all their child’s demands.
Although permissive parents are warm and indulgent, their inability to set boundaries, enforce rules and say no to their children when necessary can lead to some of the worst outcomes.
Children raised in this type of emotional climate are likely to have some serious behavioral problems, such as:
- Not having self-control
- Have difficulties maintaining healthy relationships
- Find it difficult to follow rules
- Not able to differentiate between ego and high self-esteem (having egocentric tendencies)
- Have poor social interactions
3. Authoritative Parenting
Authoritative parenting strikes a balance between the authoritarian and permissive parenting styles.
Parents who adopt this parenting method have high responsiveness and high demandingness. In other words, parents in this category are very warm and responsive to the emotional, physical, and developmental needs of their kids. Yet, they have high expectations regarding maturity and responsibility.
Authoritative parents are not rigid, but that doesn’t mean they are not firm. They enforce rules but are very willing to make exceptions when necessary. If they say “no” to their kid’s demands, authoritative parents will often provide an explanation for their decision and actions.
This helps children learn about good morals and values, even if their demands are turned down.
Although authoritative parents are very warm and responsive to the needs of their children, they are not indulgent in any way. Instead of demanding blind obedience, authoritative parents primarily focus on regulating children’s behavior through reasoning and negotiations.
Authoritative parents encourage independence and two-way communication, allowing kids to express themselves.
Children raised in this type of emotional climate tend to:
- Be more independent
- Have good self-esteem
- Be more active, happy, and content
- Have good social skills and interact better among peers
- Have less tendency of becoming violent
- Have better academic performance
4. Neglectful Parenting
Lastly, the neglectful parenting style (also known as uninvolved parenting) is characterized by low responsiveness and low demandingness.
Parents in this category simply don’t care so much about their children’s needs and are usually uninvolved in whatever happens to their kids.
It is not uncommon for these parents to be victims of physical abuse when they were kids or suffer some form of mental health problems.
The effect of this style of parenting on children includes:
- Problem with self-regulated emotion
- Tendency to be more impulsive
- Addiction problems
- Increased likelihood of mental problems
- Delinquent behaviors
Which Parenting Style Is Most Encouraged In Modern America?
According to a study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Development, authoritative parenting is the most practiced style in the United States.
The study gave the percentage of parenting style adoption in the US as follows:
- Authoritative parenting – 46%
- Authoritarian parenting – 26%
- Permissive parenting – 18%
- Neglectful parenting – 10%
Interestingly, a slight percentage of Asian-American parents (about 2%) are more likely to use authoritarian parenting, while the same percentage of European-American parents are more likely to adopt an authoritative parenting style.
Indeed, authoritative parenting is more popular and has a greater likelihood of producing the best outcomes. Still, certain dynamics can affect this textbook standard.
In reality, things can be very different depending on several factors, such as ethnicity, parental education, income level, peer support, and how many parents are involved in raising the child.
A good approach to parenting style is to consider the unique needs of each child while offering lots of support as well as demanding exceptional behavior.
This is where the spectrum I mentioned earlier comes into play. I am referring to the range of responsiveness and demandingness.
Think of these two parental behaviors as two ends of a scale.
You don’t want to take things to the extreme on the responsiveness end of the scale while neglecting the other end of the demandingness scale. You must strike a balance to help nurture your child into an all-around, fully developed person who is useful to themselves and society.
Regardless of which of the different parenting styles is most encouraged in modern America, the most important thing to remember is that the style you adopt plays a huge role in your child’s overall development.
As most psychologists recommend, the best outcomes are often linked to parental behaviors that reflect high responsiveness and high demandingness. These are the characteristics of the authoritative parenting style.
Consider adopting the authoritative parenting style if you want the best outcomes (of course, you do!).
However, always remember to tailor specific parenting practices to suit the needs of each child because no two kids are the same, not even twins.