Parenting styles

The different mom types you meet can be grouped under four parenting stylesauthoritative, authoritarian, permissive or indulgent, and neglectful or uninvolved.


  • Authoritarian: The parent is demanding and unresponsive. S/he focuses on obedience and punishment over discipline.
  • Authoritative: The parent is demanding, but responsive. S/he focuses on a positive relationship and rule enforcement.
  • Permissive or Indulgent: The parent is undemanding, but responsive. S/he has no rule enforcement. (“Kids will be kids.”)
  • Neglectful or Uninvolved: The parent is undemanding and unresponsive. S/he provides little to no guidance, nurturing, or independence.

Looking at these studies, the authoritative parenting style consistently has the most positive outcomes for children, e.g. behavior, mental and social adjustment. (In my years as a high school teacher, I’ve found the authoritative style to be the most effective in disciplining and managing my students for success.) So there appears to be a “right way” to parent, or a clear winner. This is bad news for the panic-stricken mom type (umm….ME!) who’s looking for something to feel guilty about, e.g. not parenting in the “right way”.

The problem is that stress, of the physical and mental kind, (well, duh!) makes it difficult for parents to be authoritative all the time. Yes, we should strive to have a more authoritative parenting style, for the sake of our kids, but some days that’s just not going to happen. And that’s okay (or so I tell myself). There are times when I’m authoritarian (what happens when I’m exhausted, hungry, and/or irritable) or permissive/indulgent (what happens when I’m exhausted, hungry, irritable, and/or lazy – just wanting to stay in bed). Don’t be so hard on yourself.

A Final Thought – From the Pillow

There’s no “one-size fits all” method to parenting. (Well, maybe the authoritative style.)

So stop condoning and criticizing other moms for their methods. Each child is different, so each parent must parent her child differently. There may be “a method to our [mom] madness” after all.

Do you think there’s a parenting style that’s “best” or “most effective”? Any thoughts?

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