All (expectant) parents have to deal with an important issue sooner or later: Parenting styles. But choosing a parenting style is not always easy because the choice is wide, and the differences are not always obvious. Most researchers who attempt to describe this broad parental milieu rely on Diana Baumrind‘s concept of parenting style; however, other researchers like Maccoby and Martin have also expanded on the topic and found four major american parenting styles encouraged in modern America.
Categorizing parents according to whether they are high or low on parental demandingness and responsiveness creates a typology of four most effective parenting styles:
- Indulgent Or Permissive ( Too Soft )
- Authoritarian ( Too Hard )
- Authoritative (Just Right )
- Uninvolved Or Neglecting ( Laissez Faire )
Each of these modern parenting styles reflects different naturally occurring patterns of parental values, practices, and behaviors (Baumrind, 1991) and a distinct balance of responsiveness and demandingness.
In this article we go through all the different parenting styles and explain in detail what each style consists of.
Which Parenting Style Is Most Encouraged In Modern America
The authoritative parenting style is the most encouraged out of the four main existing parenting styles in modern America. Statistically the children become more self-confident and emotionally stable, which makes this parenting style number one choice among American parents.
There is no such thing as a clear “right” or “wrong” parenting style. Whatever you think is right is right for the time being, even if something else is recommended or other people have a different opinion.
But parenting styles are very individual, and not everyone will feel comfortable with one of the firmly defined styles.
The term “education” is probably familiar to everyone – of course, because at some point we were all educated, ourselves and our parents, our grandparents and our great-grandparents. Education is an integral part of our lives what helps us form a healthy family culture.
The German philosopher Immanuel Kant said on the subject of education:
“Man can become man only through education. He is nothing but what education makes of him. It is to be noted that man is educated only by men, by men who are also educated.”
In other words, it is education by people who are already educated that makes us a “real” person in the first place – and it is education that ultimately determines who and what we are.
But the whole thing can be expressed a little more simply and understandably:
Education is understood as all consciously applied measures with the help of which children’s behavior is steered in a certain direction.
These measures are primarily character-building and developmental, such as teaching certain values like honesty. The focus is primarily on the development and training of social behavior.
Therefore, we lay the foundation for how children will behave toward others later in life and how they will deal with certain things with education.
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Parenting styles: What are they?
Of course, they have something to do with education, as the name suggests, but what exactly?
You can basically think of a parenting style in america as a bundle of specific basic attitudes, views, and values. These, in turn, lead to different behaviors and patterns.
Parenting styles are categorized based on two dimensions of parenting behavior and styles:
Demandingness refers to the extend parents control their children’s behavior or demand their maturity.
Responsiveness refers to the degree parents are accepting and sensitive to their children’s emotional and developmental needs
In the following, we start with the strictest and most structured parenting styles and finally end on the other side of this scale to make it a bit easier for you to classify the styles.
Authoritarian parenting style
The authoritarian parenting style is characterized by one thing above all: Strictness. Discipline and obedience play a major role, and there are numerous rules and limits that children have to follow and adhere to.
Parents who raise their children authoritarian usually assume that children need a clear and unchallengeable authority figure.
In this role, they then set rules and boundaries. If the children do not comply, they must expect consequences and accept the punishments without questioning or challenging them.
These things are usually not discussed with the children. Rules and their meaning and the limits and punishments are not explained to the child, and the child has no say in all these things.
Other decisions are also basically made by the parents. The children’s wishes, needs, and views are disregarded and not included in the considerations.
Another characteristic of this parenting style is the threat of punishment and the intimidation of the children that go along with it. You’ve probably heard something similar: “If you don’t do X, you won’t be allowed to do Y later.”
Accordingly, the relationship between parent and child does not take place at eye level – parents are clearly above their children in the hierarchy and are the “autocrats,” so to speak.
Children whose parents have an authoritarian parenting style tend to:
- Have an unhappy disposition
- Be less independent
- Appear insecure
- Possess low self-esteem
- Exhibit more behavioral problems
- Perform worse academically
- Have poorer social skills
- Be more prone to mental issues
- Be more likely to have drug use problems
- Have worse coping skills
Authoritative Parenting Style
So-called democratic education can actually be considered a form of democracy: Parents and children work together while the children enjoy certain freedoms within defined limits.
The parents usually give a rough direction, guiding the child in a way. There are also some set ground rules, mainly to ensure the safety and health of the children.
Apart from that, however, parents hardly ever make a decision themselves. They discuss together with their children and discuss all important things in advance. The child is also allowed to question rules and boundaries at any time.
Punishments are also not imposed just like that. Rather, when a rule is broken, parents sit down with their child and explain exactly what they did wrong and what consequences he or they may now have to face.
In this way, democratic education differs significantly from autocratic education: the wishes and needs of the children are not ignored but play a major role.
In addition, the children’s opinions are just as important as those of their parents – just like in a democracy.
Based on research on parenting styles, children of authoritative parents tend to:
- Appear happy and content
- Are more independent
- Are more active
- Achieve higher academic success
- Develop good self-esteem
- Interact with peers using competent social skills
- Have better mental health — less depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, delinquency, alcohol and drug use
- Exhibit less violent tendencies
- Are securely attached
Permissive Parenting (Indulgent) Style
The name suggests it: So-called anti-authoritarian parenting is the complete opposite of authoritarian parenting in almost every way. It belongs to educational concepts and philosophies.
Unlike authoritarian-raised children, anti-authoritarian-raised children often know few rules and boundaries.
They should be able to develop and unfold completely freely – also free from constraints and the strict guidelines of their parents.
Although parents can make suggestions to their children and show them alternatives, the final decision lies with the children themselves.
Anti-authoritarian education also does not impose a clear hierarchy. Children and parents meet at eye level and with mutual respect.
But wait, can such a comfortable upbringing, which seems so far removed from discipline and order, work at all?
Perhaps, when you read the principles of anti-authoritarian education, you immediately think of children who are actually not properly educated. However, although this type of education does have its disadvantages, this is not necessarily the case.
Children of permissive parenting tend to have the worst outcomes:
- Cannot follow rules
- Have worse self-control
- Possess egocentric tendencies
- Encounter more problems in relationships and social interactions
Neglectful Parenting (Laissez Faire) style
Laissez-faire is a French term meaning “to let people do as they please.” Applied to parenting, the laissez faire parenting style definition refers to a permissive style in which parents avoid providing guidance and discipline, and enhancement of the permissive parenting style is the so-called laissez-faire parenting style.
At first glance, this parenting style also shows great similarities to anti-authoritarian parenting – but this is not quite true.
In the laissez-faire style of parenting, parents stay almost completely out of the education of their own children.
So you could say that children educate themselves.
Laissez-faire children, therefore, lack not only rules, limits, and constraints but also loving interaction. There is no exchange between parents and children – the children are left to their own devices.
Children raised by neglectful parents:
- Are more impulsive
- Cannot self-regulate emotion
- Encounter more delinquency and addictions problems
- Have more mental issues — e.g. suicidal behavior in adolescents
Which parenting type am I?
Now that you know the best-known parenting styles, you may be asking yourself which one suits you best. Perhaps you have already recognized yourself in one or the other point while reading.
There is a good chance you can identify with more than one style, at least to some extent. Why is that?
Although different parenting styles are defined, they are all not entirely independent of each other. One style has evolved from another, while others have emerged as counter-movements to certain styles.
And when choosing a parenting style, don’t just take a close look at the different styles. Each of us has different values and views, each of us has had different experiences – and that’s a good thing.
Also, adapt your parenting style to your children. Some children may need a little more guidance and structure in the form of rules, while others do just fine with lots of freedom.
So, parenting styles are as individual as we are as people. Choosing a style, therefore, depends on many factors. In any case, it is not only important what type you are, but also what type your child is, so making the right choices could transform your life as a parent much easier.
Which Parenting Style Is The Most Effective?
Through decades of research researchers have discovered that authoritative parenting is connected to the best results for children. The authoritative parenting style is regarded as the most effective parenting method by psychiatrists and psychologists. This classification of child rearing methods has been researched for over 25 years across different nations. The results tend to be consistent with every parenting style. But, there are some inconsistencies and differences on the one hand remain. These are some of the aspects that could influence the way a child develops.
cultural and ethnic differences
Certain studies have found that the most popular style of teaching doesn’t always correlate with the greatest school success in families of different ethnic (e.g. Asian, Black, Hispanic) and socioeconomic backgrounds (e.g. family income, educational level of parents as well as the number of active parents). In the study mentioned above, scientists discovered that African American students who had powerful parents, but with no peer support did not do best academically. In the case of Asian-Americans according to some studies they did the best at school when they had strict parents and supportive peers. In Spain an investigation showed that indulgence and authoritative parenting styles are associated with excellent outcomes.
The behavior of children can influence the parenting style of parents and results as well. For instance, children with an impulsive temperament could be perceived as challenging, causing parents to alter their parenting style to be more authoritative. In a research study, it was found that certain characteristics of child behavior, like aggressive and sociable behavior are more closely related with the child’s temperament, rather than in the manner that parents raise their children parents. It is apparent that parenting style isn’t the only element in the child’s performance. Different social environments and the temperament of children can have an impact as well. It is important to remember that although they have been widely discussed however, not all of the research findings are replicated in a convincing manner in other research. Additionally, the results are not uniform for other kinds of outcomes like mental health or behavior. For instance, while some studies concluded that strict parenting among China and the Chinese American population was associated with the highest academic performance while others have found the authoritative parenting style to be the most effective in the prediction of the performance of children in school. As of now there is no research that has definitively denied the advantages of an authoritative approach to parenting, however several others have consistently demonstrated its benefits.
When parents mean too well
No matter which parenting style you choose, one thing is certain: we all want the best for our children as parents.
But is it possible to overdo it with “meaning too well”?
This question is: Yes, you can mean too well with your children, and you can overdo it with caring.
Two terms have become established for parents who do just that:
Helicopter parents and Lawnmower parents. Perhaps you’ve heard one or both of these terms – but what exactly do they mean?
Helicopter parents are, in a sense, overly caring parents. Just as helicopters circled in the sky, helicopter parents constantly circled above their children. What sounds quite funny at first glance is not so amusing when you take a closer look.
Helicopter parents habit interfering in their children’s affairs, often regardless of their age. If they see a potential danger for their child, they intervene in all kinds of life situations.
But there is still an increase in helicopter parents described above, and these are the so-called lawnmower parents. These are parents who, for example, do their children’s homework. This way, the child can’t make mistakes and won’t be disappointed when the teacher at school criticizes the tasks done.
But children have to learn how to deal with problems and difficulties. They will always have to overcome various obstacles in childhood and adulthood in life.
Failures and disappointments are also part of life. In childhood, for example, these are poor grades; later, it may be the job application rejected by dozens of companies.
If parents take such experiences away from their children, the children are often unable to solve problems on their own later on. They then don’t know how to deal with challenges or failures.
Above all, however, children do not learn. It is precisely from mistakes people learn – once they have made, they do things differently or better the next time. But people who have never been allowed to make their own mistakes can’t because they don’t know-how.
Here is a very descriptive video about the parenting styles in America that you can also enjoy:
What is the relationship between authoritative parenting and traditional parenting styles?
Authoritative parenting is a type of parenting that focuses on the needs of the child, rather than the desires of the parent. Traditional parenting style is strict and authoritative over children. Authoritative parenting encourages independence, but limits it. Authoritative parents believe that children need to develop self-discipline and responsibility. Traditional parents encourage obedience and respect for authority figures. Authoritative parents are concerned about the development of their children’s abilities and talents. Traditional parents focus on the development of character and moral values.
What is the difference between authoritarian parenting and strict parenting?
Strict parenting is very strict and authoritative over children, while authoritarian parenting is more lenient and allows some freedom. Strict parents usually try to control everything and punish if necessary. Authoritarian parents allow children some freedom and discipline them less harshly. Authoritarian parents are concerned with the development of their children’s abilities and talents. Strict parents are concerned with developing their children’s morals and values.
How has parenting changed in the 21st century?
In the 20th century, parenting was much stricter than today. Children were expected to obey their parents and to follow rules without question. Parents had complete power over their children. The only thing the children could do was to ask permission before doing something. If the children disobeyed, they would get punished.
Today, this kind of parenting is no longer acceptable. Children should feel free to express themselves and to make decisions independently. They should be able to decide what they want to do and how they want to live.
The most important change in modern parenting is that parents are now responsible for their children’s upbringing. This means that parents must teach their children how to behave properly. They must show them how to act responsibly and how to treat others.
Parents used to think that they knew best. They thought that they knew exactly what was good for their children. Today, we realize that there is no one right way to raise your kids. There are many different ways to do so. What works well for one family may not work as well for another.
Parents should remember that they are responsible for their children’s lives. They should help them become independent adults by teaching them how to take care of themselves.
Are American parents too soft?
Many people say that American parents are too soft when it comes to raising children. Some even say that American parents spoil their children and let them have too much freedom. However, these people don’t understand why American parents are like this.
American parents are not too soft because they give their children too much freedom. Instead, they are too hard because they expect their children to obey them and to always do what they say. They also expect their children to be respectful towards them.
American parents are not too soft when it comes time to discipline their children. They use punishment when needed. They know that sometimes children will misbehave or break the rules. When this happens, they tell their children what they did wrong and then they punish them.
American parents are not too soft if they love their children. They don’t stop loving their children even after they’ve been naughty. They still love them even though they’re being disrespectful.
There is nothing wrong with American parents’ expectations, it’s just a matter of perspective. From a certain point of view, American parents seem too harsh, but from the inside, American parents seem too soft.
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Which parenting style is most encouraged in modern america? There’s no simple answer to that question. There are many things to consider, and individuals opinions sometimes differ greatly. But don’t let any of this deter or discourage you! Take the time to learn about all aspects of parenting and the different parenting styles, and don’t be afraid to make the wrong choices – only you know what’s best for your child.