A general definition of parenting styles is “a personal set of idealized behavioral patterns adopted by parents to rear their children.” However, this definition does not provide enough information to define a unique style. Rather, parenting styles are more accurately defined as an approach to parenting that allows parents to combine and match desired behaviors with appropriate response styles.
An extreme version of several parenting styles is the authoritarian style. Parents who adopt this parenting style do so because they believe that all forms of deviation from the norm should be dealt with forcefully. An authoritarian parent uses manipulative tactics to get what he or she wants from a child. These tactics include punishing negative behavior with punishment, outing punishments, and forcing compliance or humiliating a child through embarrassing or controlling behavior. An authoritarian parent has very little room for rational discussion with his or her child and places too much reliance on physical violence as a form of discipline.
An authoritarian parenting style is probably most commonly associated with families in which one parent acts as the director and the other as the follower. These families typically live under tight control. Every move, every word, and every action is controlled or directed by one parent. Authoritarian parents are harsh with kids. Authoritarian parents also usually have very low self esteem and frequently have a very punitive attitude toward their kids.
In contrast to authoritarian parenting styles, the other four types of parenting styles – permissive, flexible, authoritative, and neglectful – are also characterized by parents who are less directed by their partners and have more room for individual expression. These parenting styles allow children to develop a full range of emotions and also to explore their creativity and their sense of self. These are also types of parenting styles that are less likely to result in severe behavior problems in children.
Which one of these parenting styles is right for your family will depend on a number of factors. For example, if your parents were really close and you had many positive memories from them, there is a good chance that they would be permissive in their parenting styles. However, if they were always fighting and never truly cared about you as a person, they would be likely to lean more towards the authoritative side of the parenting style. On the other hand, if you grew up with very loving and caring parents, who only scolded you when you did something wrong, then you may have a personal preference for the style of parenting that they practiced.
In general, it is important to understand these four parenting styles clearly before deciding which style fits your family. The best way to do this is to speak to an expert in child psychology. Leung, who is the editor-in-chief of a popular parenting magazine called New Directions, has written a number of books and articles on this topic. He can often be seen on various television shows discussing this topic. If you want to get advice from someone who understands child psychology, then speak to a professional who deals with this area on a daily basis.