Four Parenting Styles
We can describe four basic parenting styles, or constellations of parenting characteristics, by combining and crossing the positive and negative poles of parental responsiveness and demandingness (Maccoby & Martin, 1983). As you will see, these styles are often predictive of child characteristics (e.g., Baumrind, 1989, 1993).
The Authoritative Style
Parents with an authoritative style are both highly responsive and highly demanding. So, they create a positive emotional climate for their children, promoting autonomy and supporting assertiveness and individuality. At the same time these parents accept responsibility for socializing their children by expecting mature behavior and setting and enforcing clear standards. Other qualities also tend to be part of this constellation: These parents are often openly affectionate; they encourage two-way communication with their children (that is, they genuinely listen and pay attention as well as talking themselves). Their communications about expectations and standards are usually clear and come with explanations that go beyond “You do it because I said so” to statements that help children make sense of their parents’ demands.
The Authoritarian Style
Authoritarian parents are low on responsiveness, but highly demanding. Thus they do not create a positive emotional climate nor encourage children’s individualistic strivings or assertiveness, but they do tend to exercise considerable control, making maturity demands and requiring conformity to rules. In addition, other qualities tend to be characteristic of authoritarian parents. First, authoritarian parents usually communicate less effectively with their children than authoritative parents; their communications are more one-sided (“I say what will happen; you listen”); they express less affection; and their control tends to be more restrictive, meaning that they tend to restrict their children’s emotional expressiveness and other self-assertive behaviors. They also are more likely to exercise control by using power assertion (see the section on parenting practices below) and are less likely to provide explanations that go beyond “Because I said so.”
The Permissive Style
Permissive parents are moderately to highly responsive to their children, but low on demandingness. Thus, they exercise less control than other parents, putting fewer maturity demands on their children, especially with regard to expressions of anger and aggressive behavior. They are more nurturing and affectionate than authoritarian parents, but usually not as nurturant as authoritative parents.
The Neglecting–Uninvolved Style
Some parents are both low on responsiveness and low on demandingness, so that they actually invest little time or attention in a child and are largely parent centered in their concerns. Like permissive parents, neglecting–uninvolved parents seem to neglect their responsibility to socialize the child, but they also express less affection and are not likely to be responsive to their children’s needs, perhaps even expressing hostility or making negative attributions to their children. When they do impose limits on their children, they tend to use power assertive techniques and little explanation.
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