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Parenting Styles by Diana Baumrind

According to Encarta (2007), “parenting is the experiences, skills, qualities, and responsibilities involved in being a parent, teaching and taking care of a child up to adulthood.” Parenting involves using skills, experiences, and qualities that are necessary for bringing up children. Therefore, parents are leaders in the family which require them to provide the leadership necessary to bring up children correctly so that they can fit into society as well as being in a position to depend on themselves once they become adults. There are a number of things that children must learn as they grow. They are supposed to learn skills such as cleaning, cooking, dressing, and communication. Baumrind studied parenting and proposed the following categories of parenting, “authoritative, authoritarian and permissive parenting.”

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Characteristics and Consequences

Authoritarian parents demand that their opinion is the final instruction to the children. It is a swift method of decision making because there is no discussion or deliberations on decisions to be made. The parent speaks, and that must be accepted as the truth. Rathus (2010) describes parenting as characterized by “enforcement of methods through coercion … an authoritative parent doesn’t communicate well with children … and he or she does not respect the children.” Clearly, the parents know it all, and since communication is limited to the extent that the children may be affected psychologically. Research done shows a rather uncouth behavior exhibited by children who were under authoritarian kind of parenting.

Authoritarian parents are:

  1. highly demanding in their directions, but they are not typically responsive
  2. use strict rules, strict expectations and are rigid
  3. more interested in strict obedience and provide a well-ordered and structured environment
  4. have rules that are never in question, they state their expectations clearly, and the consequences are equally clear
  5. some are militant in their authoritarian behavior
  6. viewed as unyielding and venturing on cruel (Long, 2011)

According to Smith et al (1988), “Authoritative kinds of parents are parents who have ideas about behavior and discipline, which they are willing to explain and discuss to their children and at times adapt.” From this definition, it can be noted that there is good communication. It is also clear that before decisions are made, there must be an understanding between the children and parents. Both the parents and the children have an easy time understanding each other. There is room for discussion and sharing of one’s opinions. More often, the reason is the key idea of any decision that must be adopted. Respect from between children and parents and is two way. The kind of environment in which the children grow is very friendly but with authority from the parents. Children learn and appreciate the following rules that are set in the house. Research has shown that children from these kinds of families fit into society with little or no problem at all.

The following are the characteristics of authoritative parents:

  1. Encourage independence
  2. Listen to their children
  3. Place limits, consequences, and expectations on their children’s behavior
  4. Express warmth and nurturance
  5. Allow children to express opinions
  6. Encourage children to discuss options
  7. Administer fair and consistent discipline (Chon, 2007)

The third category is permissive parents. Lodico et al, (2006) describe them as “parents who are said to be undemanding and exhibit less control. They tend to overindulge their children, believing that ‘kids will be kids’ who make children love parents, but children often exhibit impulsivity and immaturity.”

According to Gottman (1997), he explains that permissive parents exhibit the following characteristics:

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  1. offer comfort to the child experiencing negative emotions
  2. freely accept all emotional expressions from the child
  3. offer little guidance on behavior
  4. do not teach the child about emotions
  5. do not set limits; is permissive or inconsistent with limits
  6. do not help the child solve problems
  7. do not teach problem-solving methods to the child
  8. believes there is little you can do about negative emotions other than riding them out
  9. Believes that managing negative emotions is a matter of hydraulics.

Philosophies and Techniques of the Parenting Styles, Advantages and Disadvantages

Because of communication channels upheld by authoritative parents, a number of advantages are exhibited. Different researchers have come up with different conclusions about this kind of parenting. Benson and Haith (2009) indicate a number of positive effects of authoritative parenting as: “The children brought up are socially responsible, competent, self-assured, adaptive, creative, assertive, and successful in school, friendly, and cooperative with other peers and parents. The children develop mature, moral reasoning, pro-social behavior, and self-esteem.”

Covell and Howe (2001) also argue that “… authoritative parenting has positive effects on children’s social and psychological development across ethnocultural development, it functions as a protective factor that helps build resiliency among children who are being raised in difficult circumstances”. The two authors also insist that authoritative parenting is far much better compared to authoritarian parenting because of the circumstances under which it puts the children.

Another researcher Chon (2007) drums up support for authoritative parenting when he refers to it as democratic parenting by stating that, “…every mistake is a means to teach the children a valuable lesson rather than an opportunity for punishment. On the other hand, good behavior is always appreciated and rewarded”. The element of reinforcement for both good and bad is emphasized; hence; it gives good training to children. They can be able to appreciate and understand the difference between what is wrong and what is right without much struggle.

Chon (2007) describes the disadvantage of this approach as, “an opportunity of giving a child a chance of turning into a rebel and going completely against the wishes of his parents. Parents can bend the rules to suit the situation and in case of a dispute or crisis, the parent may switch on to a more dominating role, thereby confusing and annoying the children.”

In permissive parenting, children are given more freedom to indulge in doing what pleases them. At tender ages, children will definitely love their parents because of this ‘freedom’. It is an advantage because parents will enjoy the love of their children due to the freedom they enjoy unlike what society may demand from them when they are far from parents. The truth is that, fitting into a rather demanding society that requires a give and take kind of understanding will be a difficult task for the children.

This kind of parenting may be associated with parents who don’t want to take their time and mold the children on the best way to fit into the society. Covel (2001) indicates that, “Permissive parenting is neglectful and also a bad way of bringing up children because it may encourage all the wrong kinds of behavioral patterns among children. Children will lack self-confidence and they would be considered to be socially handicapped”.

Authoritarian parenting has its pros and cons as well. Howe and Covel (2001) argue that children under authoritarian parenting have, “… high levels of self-esteem, Self-reliance, self-control, social maturity, and academic competence, and fewer behavioral problems”. It is crystal clear that children of this nature are well developed psychologically, socially and even culturally. The immediate behavior is that the children will tend to respect the authority at all costs. In authoritarian parenting, the believe is that authority is assertive and must be respected.

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However, despite its advantages it faces a big risk because of the undesirable effects it may cause on the children. Since the children look oppressed in a way, they may end up projecting their anger to undesirable activities later on in life. Jovanovic and Lerner and Jovanovic (1999) argue that, “in a school that emphasizes autonomy and self-direction, authoritarian parenting with its emphasis on obedience and conformity, may place youngsters at a disadvantage. Without the same degree of support, they may end up performing poorly”. Here there is a disconnection from the authority at home and the self-reliance and autonomy the society requires of the children.

Influence of gender, ethnicity, culture, exceptionalities, and family type

A number of issues can be raised according to different parental types. From their research, Jovanovic and Lerner (1999) noted that, “African- American and Hispanic students experience authoritative parenting while Asian-American students do not”. The ethnic background almost dictates the type of parenting one expects. It is expected that different sexes exhibit different behavior under certain conditions. Slater (1999) indicates that from research done, “children from non-directive home had the most discrepant findings across gender… a similar finding on gender difference on Mathematics and Verbal achievement”.

In relation to the overall behavior from the types of parenting effect on gender, it is expected that the differences will come up in a permissive kind of set up. This is because the children do what they want to do and it is natural to think differently and react in a similar manner. Chon 2007 states that, “culture dictates not only roles for children, but also for the parents. Many cultures differentiate roles of the fathers versus that of mothers depending on the type of society and the daily lives of the inhabitants”.

This means that culture is paramount in parenting. Arinoldo (2007) indicate that, “there are always exceptions, as we have mentioned several times throughout this book… the child’s age and cognitive ability level must be taken into serious consideration by parents when they are doling out independence.”

In conclusion, the parenting type one chooses should focus on the psychological, social, physical and mental development of the child. Parents can decide to adopt a blend of all the three types of parenting. However, this must be done carefully and taking into consideration the effects of each one of them. In the long run, the society requires that parents prepare their children to face life boldly, fit into the society smoothly and enable a good culture for the continuity of the society. Since family is the basic unit of society, it should be handled carefully. Remember, the social injustices that may be witnessed in society may have emanated from the family. It is therefore crucial for everybody within society to use everything within their reach to ensure proper rearing of children.


Arinoldo, C. (2007). Essentials of Smart Parenting: Learning the Fine Art of Managing your Children. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Benson, J. & Haith, M., (2009). Social and Emotional Development in Infancy and Early Childhood. San Diego, CA: Academic Press. Pg. 291.

Chon, E., (2007). Parenting styles of 1.5 generation Korean Americans. Los Angeles: Alliant International University.

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Gottman, J. et al., (2007). The Heart of Parenting: Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child. Houston: Simon & Schuster Publishers.

Lerner, R. & Jovanovic, J., (1999). Cognitive and Moral Development and Academic Achievement in Adolescence. New York: Routledge

Lodico, M. et al, (2006). Methods in educational research: from theory to practice. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Rathus, S., (2010). Childhood and Adolescence: Voyages in Development. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Smith, P. et al.,(1988). Understanding Children’s Development. Victoria: Blackwell Publishing.

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