3 Parenting Styles: Authoritarian, Permissive & Authoritative

boy touching page of book

As much as we differ from person to person, we often times differ in our parenting styles as well. There are several different types of parenting styles. Some are helpful, while others can be harmful. People often parent the way that they were parented themselves. Sometimes no matter how hard we try to be different from our own parents we often find ourselves doing the same things.

Parenting styles differ

Many of the parenting tools our parents passed on to us can be helpful. Yet there are some other methods that probably should be avoided altogether. Just as we as parents try to do our best with what we have, so did our parents. The benefit we have today, is that we have more information available to us about parenting than our own parents did. It’s important to use that extra knowledge that we have access to in order to be the best possible parents that we can be.

Kids are challenging

As any parent knows, being a parent is the hardest job you will ever have. It can also be the most rewarding. As kids grow they go through different stages in growth and seem to challenge us at every corner. Even with all of the different tools that we have accumulated throughout the years we are inevitably going to presented with a certain challenge that we aren’t sure quite how to deal with. Learning the best way to parent can be a great way to find a great solution to the challenges that our kids present to us.

Three main parenting styles

Child psychologists have identified three main parenting styles: authoritarian, permissive and authoritative. Most parents will use techniques from all three styles. However, most parents also fall into a primary category as well. It is usually easy to see what parenting style you use most often. Try to see if you can identify what parenting style you use from the styles listed below.


These are parents who believe highly in structure and need to have control over their children. Focus is typically on any displays of misbehavior rather than any achievements or good behavior. Disobedience is not tolerated and high expectations are set. Children in this type of environment tend to have low self esteem, be indecisive and rely heavily on authority and have little freedom.


These types of parents generally allow their children to do and act as they please. There are few if any rules and a lot of freedom is given to the children. They often times try to be friends to their kids out of fear that if they take a more parental role that their kids wont like them. The children are given the opportunity to make their own decisions and be as creative as possible. The down side is that children in this environment can be controlling and irresponsible.


The authoritative parent tries to strike a good balance with their kids. They are not permissive or extremely strict. They generally try to give their kids choices and are not afraid to explain their reasoning when asking their children to do something. They still set certain expectations for their kids, but do not set goals that are unattainable. They allow their children to make age appropriate decisions.

These parents also have a knack for listening to the needs of their children. Kids in this situation understand that they have certain expectations, but are not afraid to voice their opinion. They also are able to develop a healthy sense of self sufficiency.

What parenting style should I use?

Every child is different. While some children may thrive with one parenting style, it may not work well with other children. The personality type of your child should be taken into consideration when using certain parenting styles. At times it may be necessary to be firm with your children, while at other times it may be necessary to give them more freedom. Ultimately striking a good balance and knowing when to use each parenting style is the best option for you and your kids.

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