It’s hard to be a parent. There are no instruction manuals, and what was acceptable before is no longer considered safe or acceptable any more. Even if there was one way to parent, there is no one type of kid. Every child has their own personality and needs, and often that means trying to come up with new strategies on the fly – all while you’re being tasked with working, taking care of yourself, and more.
There isn’t necessarily a true way to parent. But what does the science say about parenting styles? Does one type of parenting seem to be favored over others?
Types of Parenting and What is “Ideal”
Your idea of parenting is probably based on how you were raised (both the good and the bad), what your personality is like, what your partner’s personality is like, and your own random thoughts and emotions. That’s normal. In addition, there are many cultural factors at play that can play a role in what is considered good parenting and how that parenting translates to success.
But researchers have tried to determine what the “best” style is according to science, and although there are no firm answers due to the variation in parent and child personalities, we do have a rough idea of what parenting style seems to work best.
Types of Parenting Styles
Parenting rarely fits into any one style. There are times when you are bossy, and time when you are probably a bit too lenient. There are probably times when you are an angry parent, and times when you should probably be mad but their smiles are too cute for you. Most parenting rarely fits into a specific box. But researchers do look at three types of parenting:
- Authoritarian Parenting
- Authoritative Parenting
- Permissive Parenting
Authoritarian parenting is rigid and structured. It is designed around rules and a very specific hierarchy – the parent is in charge, and children have to listen to the parent at all times or risk punishment. Children are typically given direction to help them succeed.
The second type of parenting is authoritative. The child is given a structure and many rules, but breaking a rule, questioning a rule, or taking a different approach isn’t necessarily punished or frowned upon.
The last type of parenting is permissive parenting. Parents that use permissive parenting try to be more like a friend, offering suggestions and encouragement but not necessarily structure or rules. Punishments are fairly rare, and children that chose not to perform as the parent prefers will still receive praise or approval.
Which Type of Parenting Style is Best?
Authoritative parenting is the type of parenting considered best by researchers. It seems to offer the best combination of personal contentment plus focus and drive. Children raised by authoritative parents tend to be successful and happy, while those of authoritarian parents tend to be less happy (but still successful). Interestingly, permissive parenting seems to have the worst outcome, with children both less happy and less successful.
What is the Best Way to Parent?
There is no such thing as a “right” way to parent. There are situations where being authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive may all be important depending on the child, the situation, and the personality. But in terms of what the science says, research tends to show that authoritative parenting has the best outcome in most cases.
Are you struggling with parenthood? Do you need help for yourself or your child? Learn more about our mental health services at Long Island Counseling Services.