Support vs. Control: The 4 Classic Parenting Styles

Colorful Parents Playing Tug of War on Beach
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Your parenting style is determined by how much control you assert on your children, and how supportive you are to their needs. Ultimately there is no single “best” parenting style. Some parents are more nurturing, open, and warm. Some are more strict, demanding, and assertive.

Exploring different parenting styles can help parents discover improved discipline methods, communication strategies, and relationship building techniques toward optimizing their parenting effectiveness of raising healthy and happy children.
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The combination of parental control and parental responsiveness is known as a ‘parenting style’. Research by Diana Baumrind and Maccoby & Martin identified four classic parenting styles or clusters of child rearing practices:

The Authoritarian Parent – “You’ll do as I say”

High Control, Low Support

The authoritarian parent sets many rules and closely monitors but offers little support. The authoritarian parenting style is also characterized by high levels of control and demands of the child, but coupled with low levels of nurturing and emotional connection.

Authoritarian parents engage in low levels of communication with their children, rarely explaining why compliance is necessary. These parents often use severe disciplinary tactics whenever children deviate from their standards.

The Authoritative Parent – “I love you whatever you decide, but I encourage you to do as I say”

High Control, High Support

The authoritative parent is highly supportive and closely monitors and sets rules. The authoritative parenting style is represented by high levels of control and demands, yet providing nurture and open communication.

Discipline usually involves the use of reason and power, but not to the extent that the child’s independence is severely restricted. Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing.

The Permissive Parent – “I trust you’ll do the right thing”

Low Control, High Support

The permissive parent is highly supportive but makes few rules and trusts rather than monitors. The permissive-indulgent parenting style is characterized by high levels of nurturing and warmth, but with low levels of control and demands.

This parenting style involves high levels of acceptance, with parents rarely exerting control over their children’s behavior and not closely monitoring their activities. Permissive parents are sometimes described as highly flexible and lax.

The Uninvolved Parent – “You’ll do what you want, and learn from your mistakes.”

Low Control, Low Support

The uninvolved parent sets few rules, does not monitor, and offers little active support. The permissive-neglectful parenting style is identified by low control and low responsiveness. Parents fulfill the child’s basic needs, but are emotionally and physically withdrawn from their child’s life. In extreme cases, these parents may even reject or neglect the needs of their children.

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