Parenting Styles: Definition

Parenting style refers to how a parent behaves around their children as defined by the overall demeanor that a parent has when they are engaging their children. Human development and family studies researchers have designated three types of parenting styles. Only one is acceptable and the other two are unacceptable. See if you can pick out which one of the three is acceptable.

#1 – The Authoritarian Style

The authoritarian style is sometimes referred to as the military style. A parent puts an emphasis on obedience, and usually has very strict family rules. An authoritarian parent is usually more concerned about the child doing what they say, and focuses less on the opinion or desire of the child (It’s my way or the highway). Authoritarian parents also see children as lesser people than adults. Therefore, they are treated as such. It also strongly encourages children to rebel against their parents. Authoritarian parents don’t explain why they want their children to do things. If a child questions a rule or command, the parent might answer, “Because I said so.”  Parents tend to focus on the bad behavior rather than on the positive behavior, and the children are scolded or punished for not following the rules. Children with authoritarian parents usually do not learn to think for themselves and often become insecure with their own ability to make concrete decisions, thus often making them co-dependent on others.

#2 – The Permissive Style

Permissive parents give up most control to their children. Parents make few, if any rules, and the rules that they make are usually not consistently enforced. They don’t want to be tied down to routine. They want their children to feel free. The permissive parent is an anything goes style. The household where there are too few rules and parents give in to every whim, children become frightened by their own power. They may become mini terrors who seem to be consistently demanding “things” when what they really need and want are limits. Limits make them feel safe. A lack of discipline and too-low expectations can rob them of the chance to understand why rules exist (including respecting others), and so they can often be as demanding with their peers as they are with their parents (bullying can be produced from this parenting style).

#3 – The Authoritative Style

The authoritative parents set limits and enforce limits, but they do so to protect their children. They engage their children with reasoning when enforcing limits. Authoritative (or Democratic Parents) help children learn to be responsible for themselves and to think about the consequences of their behavior. Parents do this by providing clear, reasonable expectations for their children and explanations for why they expect their children to behave in a particular manner. They monitor their children’s behavior to make sure that they follow through on rules and expectations. They do this in a warm and loving manner. They often “try to catch their children being good” and reinforcing the good behavior, rather than focusing on the bad.

If you guessed #3 you guessed right. The authoritative parent loves their children unconditionally, gives them chances and choices, and helps them to make good solid decisions about life. The authoritative parent uses the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22) to steer their children into an exemplary life style and guides them into godliness. This type of life style gives them the liberty to be free and to be creative in their thinking.

Vernon Sigmon