How To Identify The 4 Parenting Styles And Decide What’s Best for Your Family

Published by This Indulgent Life on

Parenting is hard these days. We have so much access to information and science, but it can be hard to determine where we fit in and if it’s best for our children. This week we’re going to break down the 4 main parenting styles that exist. We’ll identify their characteristics and learn how each can affect your child.

How To Identify The 4 Parenting Styles And Decide What’s Best for Your Family

For most parents we think there are only 2, maybe 3, parenting styles. Most think that either you punish or you don’t, and then there are those who aren’t even the adult in the relationship, but what’s the fourth option? And what are the pros and cons to each style?

What does your parenting style look like? Let me know down in the comments. If you prefer a quick reference guide or to watch a video you can find the infographic and video at the end of this post. 

Have your asked yourself these 5 questions to help you determine what you want the outcome of your parenting to be yet? Read this first!


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The 4 Parenting Styles: What They Look Like and What It Means For Your Family | This Indulgent Life | Deciding how to raise your kids can be a daunting task. You usually really only know the way you grew up. So here's a list of the main parenting styles. You'll learn how to identify them, the pros and cons, and which style the professionals recommend! Go to www.thisindulgentlife.com/identify-4-parenting-styles to see the full breakdown of the pros and cons of each parenting styles. | #parentingstyle #howtobeagoodparent #gentleparenting #discipline #parentingideas

How To Identify the Parenting Style Right For Your Family | This Indulgent Life | Learn about the 4 major parenting methods that exist. Learn what characteristics each have and what outcomes are associated with each. Understand what the experts have been studying for over 25 years! Go to www.thisindulgentlife.com/identify-4-parenting-styles to see the full breakdown of the pros and cons of each parenting styles. | #parentingstyle #howtobeagoodparent #gentleparenting #discipline #parentingideas
The 4 Parenting Styles | This Indulgent Life | There are pros and cons to each parenting style you can use while raising your children. Learn how to identify each and what the positive and negative outcomes are for each so you can better reach your parenting goals. Go to www.thisindulgentlife.com/identify-4-parenting-styles to see the full breakdown of the pros and cons of each parenting styles. | #parentingstyle #howtobeagoodparent #gentleparenting #discipline #parentingideas #parentinggoals
What Parenting Style is Best For Your Family? | This Indulgent Life | Did you know you have a choice in how your parent your child? You don't have to do what your parents did. There are over 25 years of research to help guide you to what methods will work best for your family vision and goals. Go to www.thisindulgentlife.com/identify-4-parenting-styles to see the full breakdown of the pros and cons of each parenting styles. | #parentingstyle #howtobeagoodparent #gentleparenting #discipline #parentingideas #familygoals #familyvision


1) Authoritarian Parenting Style

The first parenting style that most people know of is the Authoritarian style. This is probably the most commonly known style.

corporal punishment can lead to domestic violenceYou can identify an authoritarian parent by:

  • High expectations and limited flexibility
  • Strict rules with limited to no input from the child. Most often, not explained.
  • Child is expected to obey with no questions asked.
  • Sees discipline as punishment and harsh consequences. And uses it to demand obedience or teach a lesson.
  • Very few choices or autonomy.
  • Encourages “getting it right the first time.” instead of allowing mistakes.
  • Believes in the school of hard knocks and life is unfair.
  • Not very responsive or overly nurturing, often believes in cry it out/ self-regulation at an early age.
  • You’ll often hear “Because I said so.”, “Don’t make me” and “My way or the highway.”

Pros of Authoritarian Parenting:

  • Has clear boundaries and expectations.
  • Usually provides needed structure.
  • Children are generally responsible members of the household.
  • Children learn to make amends for their actions.


  • Reliance on rules and BW/ right and wrong answers. Children find it difficult to succeed when there are no clear right/ wrong rules or answers. 
  • Creates a lower self esteem- Children of this parenting style tend to believe their value is in how good or bad they are. They don’t make the distinction between their behavior and themselves. Most internalize the criticism and it becomes their inner voice.
  • May foster the need to rebel. When given no autonomy, children want to see what it’s like to do what they want.
  • Can create anxiety, depression, and inability to think for themselves and make decisions. The worry they’ll make a wrong decision drives their life.
  • Often misbehaves when parents are not around.


2) Permissive Parenting Style

The second parenting style that most people know of is the Permissive style. Permissive parenting is the complete opposite of authoritarian parenting in almost every way. The hierarchy is flipped in that the child is above the parent in the most extreme cases and at best they are equal.


mother kissing teen daughter

Photo by Albert Rafael from Pexels

You can identify a permissive parent by:

  • Little to no rules, boundaries, or expectations. What rules exist are often inconsistent.
  • Discipline is non-existent or reserved only for extreme situations.
  • Children get what they want, when they want.
  • Extremely responsive to the needs and wants of their children.
  • Avoid confrontation and offer bribes or give what the child wants in order to get the child to do what the parent needs them to do. 
  • The parents want to be their child’s best friend
  •  They are willing to discuss issues, but usually offer no guidance
  • Parents often “bail” their children out of difficult situations or problems.


  • Parents are very responsive to their children. 
  • Permissive parents are usually very nurturing and loving.
  • Children of permissive parents typically have a high self-esteem
  • Their children usually have no problems expressing themselves and expressing their needs and desires.


  • Having no clear boundaries can create unease and anxiety in both the parents and children..
  • Children grow up unable to hold their own boundaries or respect other’s which makes it difficult to maintain healthy relationships.
  • They often grow up not being able to handle responsibility or even natural consequences. 
  • Sometimes they grow up feeling they need to be the parent and accepting too much responsibility. 
  • They often lack respect for any authority. 
  • Children of permissive parents often exhibit low motivation for academics. 


3) Neglectful Parenting Style

The third parenting style that most people don’t really consider parenting, but at least would admit exist, is neglectful parenting. This parenting style is basically classified as a lack of parenting. If you’re reading this then chances are you do not fit into the neglectful parenting category.  


crying boy

Photo by Kat Jayne from Pexels

You can identify a neglectful parent by:

  • They either have no expectations or unattainable expectations for their children. 
  • Children are often left to their own devices for most or all the time. They have limited to no interaction with their child. 
  • Parents are not involved in schooling, friends, or extra-curriculars
  • They don’t have conversations with the child, or try to build a relationship with them. 
  • Constructive guidance is limited or non-existent. 
  • These parents may be overwhelmed by life’s problems and need more help.They don’t intend to be neglectful, but they have no coping strategies and so need some assistance in learning how to manage all their expectations. 


  • None, unless you consider a child being responsible for themselves at a young age a pro…


  • Children often have a low self-esteem and feel unworthy of love.
  • These children exhibit very little to no confidence.
  • The children are often distrustful of others and especially of authority. Often fearing being taken from their parents or for getting in trouble for saying something. 
  • Children of permissive parents often struggle with concentration and motivation, especially at school.
  • Some children struggle to have adequate nutrition and health care.


Mother washing child's hands

Photo by Jennifer Murray from Pexels

4) Authoritative Parenting Style

The fourth parenting style that many don’t even know about, is authoritative parenting. Gentle, respectful, and positive parenting are subcategories of authoritative parenting.

This parenting style is often known as the “goldi-locks” parenting style as it’s the best of authoritarian and permissive while eliminating the cons.


You can identify an authoritative parent by:

  • Parents set firm boundaries, but are open to discussions and adjusting when the situation requires
  • Allows choices within those boundaries to give autonomy
  • Teaches how to problem-solve and make amends authentically
  • Does not believe in yelling, spanking, or traditional time outs
  • Believes in natural, and if necessary logical, consequences instead of arbitrary ones
  • Have age-appropriate expectations
  • Works through problems and emotions, often “sportscasting” what the child is dealing with. Giving words to the emotions.
  • Allows questioning and discussion of rules and expectations
  • Has open communication without judgement or reprimand
  • Believes in bodily autonomy… does not believe in forcing affection.
  • Very nurturing and responsive


  • Children learn to identify and work through their emotions.
  • Have high self esteems- don’t base their worth on behaviors
  • Are assertive
  • Have a high level of self control
  • Less susceptible to peer pressure
  • High level of empathy
  • Children learn mistakes are a part of life and learn to persevere
  • Become problem-solvers
  • Have a more harmonious home life


  • Can be seen as disrespectful to those used to automatic obedience
  • If not given the right tools and support, parents can easily slide into the permissive or authoritarian style.
  • Sometimes children rebel against authority figures who are strict authoritarians.
  • Takes more physical and mental effort and time from the parents. It can be exhausting reigning in your emotions, especially if you grew up in a home where you never learned how to properly handle them.
  • Takes a huge shift in thinking that can be difficult to do.

Here’s why I decided to go with an authoritative parenting style. 

Are there really only 4 parenting methods?

There are other new parenting styles emerging such as over-parenting, aka helicopter parenting, tiger-moms, and free-range parents. All of these have their own pros and cons, but typically fall along the same scale as the original 4 parenting methods.

Recap/ Reader’s Digest Version of the 4 main parenting categories:

So again the 4 main parenting styles are (From most strict to least);

Authoritarian- where parents have a strict hierarchy and a no questions asked attitude,

Authoritative- where parents are ultimately in control, setting rules and boundaries, but are open to discussion and giving some autonomy

Permissive- parents do not see themselves as an authority over their child, they are the friends. Very loving and nurturing, but missing the needed boundaries

Neglectful- No parenting whatsoever, requires children to basically care for themselves. Not interested in their children’s lives, and often get angry at them for interrupting their lives.

authoritative parenting, authoritarian parenting, permissive parenting, the 4 parenting styles

Where do you feel you are on the spectrum? Do you agree or disagree with these classifications? Let me know in the comments below!


If you want to be inspired, if you want to be a more mindful parent, or if you want to know what it takes to take that next step in creating your extraordinary life, then subscribe today and download your copy of The Parenting Endgame where you ask yourself 5 questions to determine where you want to fall on the parenting spectrum.





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