Discovering Your Parenting Style: A Comprehensive Guide

Last Updated: June 5, 2024By

Parenting styles are the diverse methods parents use to raise and nurture their children. These styles encompass a variety of attitudes, behaviors, and disciplinary techniques that significantly influence a child’s development and overall well-being. Different researchers and psychologists have identified various parenting styles based on levels of parental warmth, responsiveness, control, and demands.

Understanding these different parenting styles can help you reflect on your approach and its impact on your child’s development. By recognizing these styles, you can foster a positive environment for your children. So, let’s dive into the world of parenting styles and psychology to learn how to positively influence your children’s growth.

Baumrind’s Four Parenting Styles: Find Your Approach

In the 1960s, clinical and developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind pioneered a framework that categorized parenting styles into four main types. This theory highlights different parenting approaches based on their levels of demandingness and responsiveness.

Baumrind’s four parenting styles are authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and neglectful — each with distinct effects on a child’s growth. These styles capture the patterns of interactions between parents and children and their overall parenting attitudes.

1. Authoritarian Parenting

types of parenting styles

Authoritarian parents are highly demanding and directive but low in responsiveness. They enforce strict rules and expectations with little flexibility and value obedience and discipline, often using punishment as a means of control. Communication is typically one-way, with minimal room for discussion or negotiation.

In essence, authoritarian parents emphasize strict rules, high expectations, and limited responsiveness.

2. Authoritative Parenting

types of parenting styles

Authoritative parents balance demandingness and responsiveness. They set clear rules and expectations while providing warmth, support, and open communication. They are democratic and considerate of their children’s needs and opinions, fostering emotional well-being and social competence. Instead of relying on punishment, they use consistent, fair discipline strategies and explain the reasoning behind them. This style promotes independence, self-discipline, and positive social skills.

In short, authoritative parents balance warmth, clear expectations, and open communication.

3. Permissive Parenting

types of parenting styles

Permissive parents are low in demandingness but high in responsiveness. They have few or inconsistent rules and let their children largely regulate their own behavior. These parents are nurturing and lenient, valuing their child’s happiness and self-expression. They may avoid confrontation or discipline, struggling to set boundaries and provide structure.

In summary, permissive parents are nurturing, have fewer rules, and take a lenient approach.

4. Uninvolved or Neglectful Parenting

types of parenting styles

Neglectful parents are low in both demandingness and responsiveness. They provide little emotional support, guidance, or supervision, often being preoccupied with their own concerns or neglecting their parenting responsibilities altogether. This lack of structure and attention can negatively affect the child’s development and well-being.

In essence, neglectful parenting equates to a lack of availability and minimal guidance, making it commonly seen as the least effective parenting style.

It’s important to note that Baumrind’s parenting styles serve as a general foundation. Many parents display a combination of styles or shift their approach based on circumstances. Additionally, cultural and contextual factors can influence parenting styles.

6 Sub-types of Parenting Styles

Beyond the four main parenting styles, some researchers have identified additional sub-types. Here are six sub-types of parenting styles:

1. Free-range Parenting Style

types of parenting styles

“Free-range parenting” became popular in the early 2000s, coined by journalist Lenore Skenazy. This style emphasizes giving children more independence and freedom to explore and learn. Free-range parents believe children should develop their skills, problem-solving abilities, and resilience through independent play and experiences. They allow children to take calculated risks and learn from their mistakes, believing this is essential for healthy development.

In essence, free-range parents encourage age-appropriate independence and exploration with minimal supervision.

2. Snowplow Parenting Style

types of parenting styles

Snowplow parenting, also known as bulldozer or lawnmower parenting, involves parents removing all obstacles and challenges from their child’s path. These parents aim to ensure their child’s success by shielding them from failure, disappointment, or discomfort. They often intervene in school-related matters and social situations, trying to create a smooth, obstacle-free journey for their child.

In essence, snowplow parents are highly proactive, often stepping in to prevent their child from facing difficulties.

3. Helicopter Parenting Style

types of parenting styles

Helicopter parenting is characterized by excessive involvement and overprotection. These parents closely monitor and control their child’s activities, hovering over them like a helicopter. Motivated by a desire to protect their children from harm and ensure their success, helicopter parents manage their child’s schedule, make decisions for them, and intervene in challenges or conflicts.

In essence, helicopter parents are highly involved, often micromanaging their child’s life.

4. Tiger Parenting Style

types of parenting styles

Tiger parenting, popularized by Amy Chua in her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, involves strict discipline, high expectations, and a focus on academic achievement. Tiger parents push their children to excel, setting demanding standards and emphasizing top grades and prestigious careers. This approach can negatively impact a child’s self-esteem and the parent-child relationship.

In essence, tiger parents prioritize strict discipline and high academic expectations.

5. Attachment Parenting Style

types of parenting styles

Attachment parenting draws from psychologist John Bowlby’s attachment theory. This style promotes a secure attachment bond between parent and child, emphasizing responsive and sensitive parenting, co-sleeping, gentle discipline, and emotional availability. Attachment parents believe this bond provides a foundation for emotional well-being, self-esteem, and social development.

In essence, attachment parents focus on creating a secure and nurturing bond with their child.

6. Lighthouse Parenting Style

types of parenting styles

Lighthouse parenting is metaphorical, referring to parents who provide a stable, guiding presence while granting autonomy and independence. Like a lighthouse offering light and guidance, these parents provide emotional support, stability, and a safe environment. They encourage exploration and self-discovery, allowing their children to experience successes and failures, thus developing problem-solving skills and resilience.

In essence, lighthouse parents balance guidance with granting independence.

Personal Experience and Insights

As a parent myself, I’ve found that no single parenting style fits every situation. I often blend authoritative and free-range approaches, providing clear rules but allowing my children the freedom to explore and learn independently. This balance has helped my kids develop confidence and problem-solving skills, while still feeling supported and loved.


Parenting styles play a crucial role in shaping a child’s well-being, relationships, and emotional connection with their parents. Various studies have identified distinct parenting styles, including authoritative (supportive), authoritarian (strict), permissive (nurturing), and neglectful (uninvolved). By understanding these styles, you can make informed decisions about your parenting approach, creating a nurturing and positive environment for your children’s growth. Finding a balanced approach can help you foster healthy development and strong family bonds.


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