When you’re a new mama and have a baby in your lap, you really don’t think about American parenting styles. No, no, no. You won’t have that thought until your toddler does wrong, and you have to figure out a way to stop them.
Traditionally, there are four different parenting styles. However, knowing what the most effective parenting style is can be a lot more complex than that. For example, white American parenting styles come in some modern formats these days that go beyond the four parenting styles as psychologists know them.
These are all in contrast to European parenting styles, which always feel much more laid back. So, what’s going on here? Which is the most effective parenting style for you?
Buckle up because I’m about to walk you through it all!
What are the 4 parenting styles?
First, I want to talk about Diana Baumrind. You probably don’t know the name, but in the 1960s, she created the 4 parenting style categories. Sometimes, they are called the Baumrind parenting styles which are known as:
Ok, so I can practically hear your murmuring from here. Yes, two sound similar, but believe me, there are differences. Let me break down each one.
The Permissive Parent
If you’re the permissive type, you’re more of a friend than a parent. You don’t like conflict and will pretty much do whatever to make your kids happy. You let them do what they want and don’t offer much direction or instruction.
You might be a permissive parent if:
✓ You respond quickly
✓ You have few demands
✓ You’re open with communication
✓ You let your kids make their own decisions
✓ Rules are not set or enforced
✓ You’ll do anything to keep the kids happy, often compromising yourself to do so
The Authoritative Parent
Yes, there’s something similar further down but hang on. If you’re an authoritative parent, you are nurturing. You offer support and really dial into your child’s needs. You have open discussions about values and reasoning. As such, your kids will likely be self-disciplined and can think and act for themselves.
You might be an authoritative parent if:
✓ You respond promptly yet keep demands high
✓ You make rules and expectations clear
✓ You’re still flexible and understanding
✓ You often communicate while listening to your child
✓ You let natural things happen so your kids can learn from them
The Neglectful Parent
Also known as the uninvolved parent, if you’re this type, you’re mostly indifferent. You limit your engagement with your kids and seldom make rules for them to follow. Some may see you as cold, but it may not be your intent to come across that way, especially if you are going through some difficult things at the moment.
You might be a neglectful parent if:
✓ You don’t respond or demand
✓ You let your kids take care of themselves
✓ You’re not big on nurturing, guidance, or giving attention
✓ You have low self-esteem and struggle to build bonds
The Authoritarian Parent
Different from authoritative, this is a rigid style with discipline. You have complete control and often speak to your children in the way of giving orders rather than listening for input.
You might be an authoritarian parent if:
✓ You are demanding but low in responsiveness
✓ You set strict rules without regard to your child’s needs
✓ If “Because I said so” comes out of your mouth often each day, this is you!
Now, which one is best? Which one are you? Can you be in between them?
The best is the one that fits you. You may not even fit into a tidy box with these (and that’s ok). What we can take from these parenting styles is the good and leave the bad behind.
So, no judgment. None of us are perfect. But if you do see something negative that you’re doing, now is your chance to reevaluate that point and turn things in the right direction.
Of course, we’re in the 21st century now, so these four parenting styles that Baumrind put forth in the 1960s have evolved. Now we have some modern ones to contend with too.
What are the modern parenting styles?
If you don’t really fit the four parenting styles above or feel more mixed between them, perhaps you can relate better to the modern parenting styles out there.
If you’re an instinctive parent, it’s just what it sounds like. You go on your instinct and make the call when needed. You basically draw your wisdom and personal style; doing what you feel deep in your soul is best for your child. For these types of parents, it’s basically what you observed growing up with the feelings and experiences you had shaping the way.
When we lived in China, I saw LOTS of helicopter parents. If you’re envisioning a helicopter hovering above at all times, that’s what’s happening here. Parents that are in this style feel more secure though children tend to feel smothered. You can’t protect them from everything, though. While it’s great you show up for every event, let your kids take the reins sometimes too.
Attachment parenting is when you and your child develop a close emotional bond. You may respond quickly to your child’s needs and requests. It’s a constant attention that is seen as the foundation for raising children that feel secure as they grow into adults.
Driven by their own needs, narcissistic parents have everything revolving around their children. You’ll stop at nothing to meet your parenting goals, and you make achievements the center of your world. You’re trying to one-up everyone else with your kids, making a mini-you. Unfortunately, here, you might not listen to what your child really wants.
You may push her into dance because that’s what you were good at when really, all she wants is to play guitar. If you’re pushing your desires onto your child, it’s time to step back and let them shine in what they do best.
When you’re a positive parent, you empower your child. You provide unwavering support, so your child gets the best of everything. This is wonderful for your child’s self-esteem and will help her grow into a happy adult. You involve yourself but only on the sidelines, letting your child think for themselves while offering support and advice along the way.
Do you love your child no matter what they say or do? Then you’re an unconditional parent. Love is the most important thing here as well as appreciating your child for who she is, even when she does something less than rewarding. Your child may choose a path you’re not fond of, but you’ll love her anyway and always be supportive.
How has parenting changed in the 21st century?
So, I’ve covered the old parenting styles and the modern ones too. What has changed for parents now that we’re in the 21st century that has impacted things?
Well, moms are expected to do it all these days. Think about it. Whether you work (in or out of the home) or stay home with the kids, you take on much more than moms of the 1960s for example when Baumrind made her parenting style categories.
Moms today also spend more time with their kids while managing everything in the home and a job on top of that. And that brings me to my next point…
There are more moms in the workplace now than there were 50+ years ago. Most moms back then stayed home and took care of the house. They sewed busted seems. They cooked dinner from scratch. They had time to clean with all the kids out of the house.
Today’s moms are so much more varied. Whatever your race, religion, background, or anything else, we have something very much in common. We all do more. And we all need to remember to give each other that thumbs-up when we see each other doing what we do best because, no offense to the guys, you couldn’t do it without us.
Our kids are doing more too. There are more activities to shuttle them to and from. There are new things to learn. Some of you may order your groceries or even whole meals, and that’s ok. Others of you may cook everything from scratch. That’s ok too.
And some of you are enduring looooooong working hours on top of this. You’re running yourself ragged and feel like you’re going to lose your mind. So if you’re a bit of a neglectful parent with all that’s going on, take a step back and find yourself.
See, one thing I’ve learned as a mom is this: you’re still YOU. You’re wonderful. You have all these things that make you the person you are, from your hobbies to your taste in music. Just because you had a kid (or even a bunch of them) doesn’t mean you’re not you.
That’s what’s different today.
Moms of yesteryear had that whole “yes dear” mentality. And I probably would’ve too back then because I wouldn’t have had to work and would have needed to fill my day with making a roast chicken and polishing the linoleum.
We have hacks to help us from delivery services to cleaning services. Not everyone can afford them though they do exist.
And for those that can’t afford them, the struggle is real. You may have taken that job because of that struggle. As tough as it is, remember this…your kids will only be little once. Build that bond. Do the things you want to do with them and make those memories because life is precious. If you keep waiting for conditions to be right, you’ll miss out on half your life, and your kids will be grown.
Are American parents too soft?
YouGov research published a study that revealed 81% of Americans think that parents are too soft when it comes to child-rearing. I think so too.
We have participation trophies for kids that did nothing. I have always taught my girls that even if they are the best, they may not win. And that’s ok! We can’t win everything all the time. We do our best, and if we’re not the winner, we congratulate our friend that won with a genuine heart.
Children that get everything handed to them grow up to be entitled adults. Believe me; I’m tired of seeing these entitled people everywhere. When my kids are bored, I let them be bored. I don’t hand them everything they want when they want it either.
We’re doing a massive disservice to our future leaders by doing anything otherwise. However, there is room to be fluid with all of these parenting styles. I, for one, feel like I merge some qualities from almost all of them into how I raise my daughters.
I encourage you to look at how you parent your children with an open heart. Where are you really nailing it? And where could you improve? That’s what I always look at.
As I said, none of us are perfect. But we can do our best for our children, and that’s really the message of parenting styles. Don’t be hung up about fitting into a box all neat and tidy. Be hung up on showing up for your kids when they need you. Make those memories. Set the boundaries. And then flow with it all so that they soar when they spread their wings to leave the nest.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.