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We all start with aspirations of the parenting styles we want to embody. Before the kiddos actually arrive, it’s pretty easy to imagine yourself as the ideal parent.

Then, life happens.

Somewhere between the birth of your child and their high school graduation your parenting style evolves into a combination of your natural instincts and survival.

So what are your natural instincts, and does it really matter?

The way you parent your kiddos can have a lasting impact on the type of person they before. Learn more about the four recognized parenting styles below. Then, decide which one you currently align with, and where you’d ideally like to be.

Do they match?

A little self reflection can go a long way to make sure you’re delivering the parenting experience you always wanted for your children.

Your first stop? Learning about the different styles.

Authoritative Parenting Style

The authoritative parenting style tends to be a combination of reasonable and nurturing. Parents set clear expectations for their children while holding them to high standards. This parenting style aims to find the happy medium between being taken seriously as a parent and providing a loving environment.

It’s generally agreed upon that the authoritative parenting style is the most beneficial for children.

Authoritative Parenting Style Characteristics

If you think you may be part of the authoritative style but aren’t 100% convinced, try comparing your own thoughts and behaviors to these common characteristics:

  • Clear and high expectations
  • Rules have reasoning
  • Frequent communication
  • Communication adjusted for child’s cognitive capabilities
  • Nurturing
  • Accepts child input
  • Respectful relationship

Permissive Parenting Style

The permissive style is an open, flexible relationship that gives a lot of power to the child. Permissive parents often have very few rules, and encourage kids to make choices on their own, and figure out their own solutions to problems.

Permissive parents are often perceived as very nurturing and warm.

Permissive Parenting Style Characteristics

Not quite sure if the permissive parenting style is you? Browse through these common permissive parenting style characteristics to see if they sound familiar:

  • Limited or no rules
  • Encourage children to problem solve on their own
  • Not strict
  • Open communication
  • Empower children to make decisions
  • Nurturing
  • Minimal or no expectations

Authoritarian Parenting Style

Authoritarian parenting is also commonly referred to as having a disciplinarian style.

Parents with an authoritarian style feel like they should be the driving force in the relationship between themselves and their children. If you feel like you’re the captain of your family and your kids should fall in line with no question, you may be putting out some authoritarian vibes.

Authoritarian Parenting Style Characteristics

If you’re struggling to decide whether you or your partner have an authoritarian style, ask yourself if any of the follow characteristics match with your personality or behaviors:

  • Strict discipline style
  • Does not allow negotiations with child
  • Frequently uses punishments
  • Rules are not explained or discussed
  • Communication is usually one sided
  • Not typically nurturing
  • High expectations
  • Low levels of flexibility

Uninvolved Parenting Style

The uninvolved style functions exactly as it sounds. Uninvolved parenting style parents give almost all control to their children, and generally stay out of their way.

This style can be a purposeful choice to give a child a lot of freedom, or it can be unintentional outcome of parents who are often gone, uninterested, or unsure exactly how to get involved in their child’s life.

Uninvolved Parenting Style Characteristics

Uninvolved parents work to raise extremely independent kids, and they often have many of these characteristics:

  • No expectations
  • Limited communication
  • No designated discipline style
  • Child makes most decisions
  • Limited nurturing
  • Parents may be uninterested

New Parenting Styles

In addition to the four main parenting styles, there are a few new ones emerging on the scene.

As society and the world continues to evolve, parents must adjust to new changes and environments. Out of those adjustments have come brand new terms:

Helicopter Parenting Style

The helicopter style is most similar to the authoritative parenting style, but with a certain level of over involvement. Helicopter parents are seen typically get in every single aspect of their child’s life, and are with them ALL the time.

This style is definitely born out of love and care of the child, but could be interpreted as a little suffocating as well.

Free Range Parenting

The free range style is essentially a sub style of the uninvolved parenting style, identifying a group of parents who are purposefully choosing to be less involved.

Free range parents believe the uninvolved parenting style is in the best interest of the child.

Parenting Styles & Child Outcomes

One of the most common questions parents wonder is how their actions will affect their child as they grow.

Will your style shape who your child becomes? How much can you mold your child, and how much is their innate personality?

Your style will most definitely have an impact on how your child “turns out.” However, there are several other elements that will impact your kid as well.

Other Factors That Affect Your Child

  • Environment
  • How well the child and parents “mesh” together
  • Teachers or other caregivers
  • Friends and peer groups
  • Extended family
  • Health

Identifying Your Parenting Style

Each parent has a unique style and relationship with their child. Realistically, you are probably a combination of the parenting styles listed above.

You may have one dominant tendency, with small percentages of other ones mixed in.

Your style also may change based on which child you’re parenting, their age, or the specific environment you’re in.

Take this quick parenting style quiz from to see what type of parent you are.

4 parenting styles quiz

Parenting Styles Adjustments

Once you take the quiz and get a better idea of the parent you are now, you can start to determine if you want to make any adjustments.

If you’re a family with two parents, it’s also really important to compare styles.

Do both parents have the same styles? Or are they opposite?

If you are concerned your own style is too specific, your spouse may help even things out. If parents have two different parenting styles, it can help create more balance.

That being said, if you’re too opposite on the spectrum, it might create confusion for your kiddos too.

Imagine living in a household where one parent was 100% nurturing, believed in open communication and letting the child make decisions, and the other parent disagreed.

When considering your styles and goals, make sure to approach your strategy as a couple.

Additional Parenting Style Resources

If you’re looking for additional information on parenting styles and the effect they may have on your children growing up, you may enjoy these helpful books.

Know Your Parenting Personality Parenting Book

know your parenting personality parenting styles book

This Know Your Parenting Personality parenting styles book helps you understand where you fall on the parenting spectrum. Which personality type are you, and how does your child’s personality interact with yours? Establish a stronger relationship with your child by understanding your own patterns.

No-Drama Discipline Parenting Book

no drama discipline parenting styles book

The No-Drama Parenting book helps parents understand the way their reaction to misbehavior affects their children’s neurological development. Get effective and compassionate guidelines for dealing with tantrums and tears without having a full blown meltdown.

Walking on Eggshells Parenting Book

walking on eggshells parenting style book

The Walking on Eggshells parenting book helps parents understand how their behavior affects their adult children, and subsequently the closeness of their relationship. This book provides a clear roadmap for how parents should interact with grown children, and the treatment adult children desire.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

how to talk to kids will listen and listen so kids will talk parenting styles book

The hugely popular book, How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, is the ultimate parenting guide on communication with your kids. This timeless book will improve your relationship with your child, and help you realize where you strengths and weaknesses fall as a parent. It includes workbook activities for practice.

The Whole Brain Child

whole brain child parenting styles book

The Whole Brain Child parenting styles book breaks down 12 key strategies for parents that will help with healthy brain development, and happier kids. Understand how a child’s brain is wired, and how you should respond to and guide your children through their development.

Understanding your parenting style will help you live a better life with your children. You can make necessary adjustments, and be the parent you’ve always wanted to be.

4 parenting styles and why they matter