Parenting Styles – Which one are you?

We recently had a parent-teacher interview about our eldest – She’s currently in Prep (Kindy in NSW) and 6 years old.


During this conversation, which was pretty positive – as you would expect for a 6-year-old. But as Madeleine was born extremely early (at 24 weeks) we were really keen to understand how she is tracking vs her peers. We were told she would never attend a mainstream school, so she’s already an absolute rock star in our eyes. But her teacher has no idea how many early intervention activities and programs we have tried to engage Madeleine in, so we were really interested in her perspective.


One of things she discussed with us was our parenting style – its wasn’t a judgement question but more one for alignment with how she engages with Madeleine but I’ve never been asked that or even thought about it, I don’t even know what parenting styles there are, so I went home to do some research on it and I thought it might make an interesting blog topic. As an aside, Madeleine is tracking middle of the pack and making good friendships – I’ll take that as a win, we were thrilled.


Ok, back to parenting styles, my research (below are the sources) made be identify the following parenting styles, which one are you? From what I could see there are 4 main styles, their names are pretty awful so read the context in full to see which one you are.

  1. Authoritative
  2. Authoritarian (or Disciplinarian)
  3. Permissive (or Indulgent)
  4. Uninvolved

 Remember, there’s no right wrong way – there’s just YOUR WAY that works for you and your family.

Authoritative (the name kind of speaks for itself) - Little nurturing, lots of control

Do any of these statements sound like you?

  • You believe kids should be seen and not heard.
  • When it comes to rules, you believe it's "my way or the highway."
  • You don't really take feelings into consideration.
  • You put a lot of effort into creating and maintaining a positive relationship with your child.
  • You explain the reasons behind your rules.
  • You enforce rules and give consequences, but take your child's feelings into consideration. 

Authoritarian parents are famous for saying, "Because I said so," when a child questions the reasons behind a rule. They are not interested in negotiating and their focus is on obedience.

Researchers have found kids who have authoritative parents are most likely to become responsible adults who feel comfortable expressing their opinions.

Children raised with authoritative discipline tend to be happy and successful. They're also more likely to be good at making decisions and evaluating safety risks on their own.


Authoritative Parenting

First, it’s important to distinguish authoritarian parenting from authoritative parenting. They have similar names, and both styles of parenting set high standards of conduct.

But there are important differences. Authoritative parents are more responsive and nurturing towards their kids. And Authoritarian parents?

We might think of boot camp, with the parent as drill sergeant. A drill sergeant insists on unquestioning obedience. He punishes autonomy. His purpose is to reshape people (children) according to an absolute standard.

How psychologists define the authoritarian parenting style

When psychologist Diane Baumrind first proposed her definition of authoritarian parenting, she cited the 18th century views of Puritan Susannah Wesley – not quite military training techniques, but the ideas were pretty much the same (Baumrind 1966).

According to Baumrind, authoritarian parents:

  • Don’t encourage verbal give-and-take.
  • Are “obedience- and status-oriented and expect their “orders” to be obeyed without question.”
  • Don’t usually attempt to explain the reasons for rules.

Other researchers have identified two key characteristics of Authoritative Parenting:

  1. 1. Warmth,also known as “responsiveness.” This quality is defined as “the extent to which parents intentionally foster individuality, self-regulation, and self-assertion by being attuned, supportive, and acquiescent to children’s special needs and demands” (Baumrind 1991).
  2. Control, also known as “demandingness.” This refers to “the claims parents make on children to become integrated into the family whole, by their maturity demands, supervision, disciplinary efforts and willingness to confront the child who disobeys” (Baumrind 1991).

Authoritative parents show high levels of warmth and control. Authoritarian parents how high levels of control, but only low levels of warmth.



Permissive Parenting

Do any of these statements sound like you?

  • You set rules but rarely enforce them.
  • You don't give out consequences very often.
  • You think your child will learn best with little interference from you.

If those statements sound familiar, you might be a permissive parent. Permissive parents are lenient. They often only step in when there's a serious problem.


They're quite forgiving, and they adopt an attitude of "kids will be kids." When they do use consequences but they may not make those consequences stick. They might give privileges back if a child begs or they may allow a child to get out of time-out early if he promises to be good. 

The textbook definition

Permissive parenting, sometimes called “indulgent parenting,” is a style of child-rearing that features two key traits:

  • being nurturing and warm (which is considered good for kids), and
  • being reluctant to impose limits (which could be problematic if overused).

This definition derives from the work of Diane Baumrind, Eleanor Maccoby, and John Martin, researchers who developed a system for classifying parents according to the way they attempt to control their children’s behaviour. According to these researchers,

  • Authoritarian parentsdemand a sort of blind, unquestioning obedience
  • Authoritative parentsdemand mature, responsible behaviour from their kids, but they also encourage family discussion and critical thinking
  • Permissive parents—also called “indulgent” parents—reject the whole notion of keeping their kids under control


As Baumrind notes, permissive parents share some similarities with authoritative parents. Both types of parent are emotionally supportive and responsive to their children’s needs and wishes—which is a good thing. Both types consult kids about policy decisions, which can be a good thing, too.


Uninvolved Parenting

A fourth parenting style—“uninvolved” parenting—is a bit like permissive parenting in that parents don’t enforce standards of conduct. But the resemblance ends there. Permissive parents are warm and nurturing.


Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • You don't ask your child about school or homework.
  • You rarely know where your child is or who she is with (more relevant to older children).
  • You don't/can’t spend much time with your child.

If those statements sound familiar, you might be an uninvolved parent. Uninvolved parents tend to have little knowledge of what their children are doing. There tend to be few rules. Children may not receive much guidance, nurturing, and parental attention.


But how can you be sure what your parenting style really is?

In everyday life, all parents experience ups and downs, and changes of mood. They may behave differently depending on what stresses they feel, or what feedback they get from their children. And people can show warmth — or withhold warmth — in a variety of ways. Where exactly should we draw the line between these parenting styles? Maybe the answer is we don’t/ can’t, and we all exhibit bits of all these parenting styles depending on the situation.

I think I can flick through different parenting styles, depending on the situation. Her are some examples to ponder:

  • You need to be out of the house in 5mins, but the kids are still stuffing around with what underpants they want to wear, you might engage Authoritarian parenting and give clear expectations and consequences to motivate them to get dressed and into the car.
  • Or take a dangerous situation, we probably all take the Authoritative approach to prevent them from getting hurt etc.
  • But at the park when playing with other children, we might step back and take on the Permissive parenting role.
  • Think about when you have a meeting or a project you need to have in for a work deadline and the kids are home sick, you might take the Uninvolved style and give them the iPad to keep them quiet and out of your hair.


I think my main style would be Authoritative, if I had to pick a predominate one.


Sometimes parents don’t fit into just one category, so don't despair if there are times or areas where you tend to be permissive and other times when you're more authoritative. It is hard to remain consistent when balancing life and parenting. Don't engage in parent guilt or shame. That's not helpful, we are all just trying our best! I say let’s give ourselves a break.


Hope you found this helpful or at least a little interesting.

BUT… if you need to know, here’s a fun quiz from Kidspot to help you work out what your parenting style is (with the world’s longest URL LOL){campaign}&gclid=Cj0KCQjw2MWVBhCQARIsAIjbwoP8y4ttndpcFOUV94dscNselERTNqElAJiwHByh4N3zk1PChb_chiEaAiFtEALw_wcB