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4 Types of Parenting Styles: A Comprehensive Guide

Parenting refers to the process of raising a child. Parenting includes ensuring the physical and emotional well-being of a child. Parents are responsible for the environment a child grows in. The environment a child grows up in determines what kind of adult they become.

Parents raise their children in different ways. Because of these differences, society often criticizes parents for not raising their children in a socially acceptable manner.

Although there is no right way of raising a child, some parenting styles can be harmful. Below is a detailed guide to understanding the different parenting styles and their effects.

Different Types of Parenting Styles
Different Types of Parenting Styles


In This Article


What are the Most Common Parenting Styles?

The four most common forms of parenting are:

  1. Authoritarian

  2. Authoritative

  3. Permissive

  4. Uninvolved.

Other forms of parenting can be classified under these styles:

  • Elephant Parenting

  • Tiger Parenting

  • Dolphin Parenting

Each of the four parenting types is different. They involve different approaches to disciplining, teaching, and connecting with children. Keep scrolling to learn more.

Authoritarian Parenting Style

What is the Strictest Form of Parenting?

Authoritarian parenting is the strictest form of parenting. Authoritarian parenting is very common. This form of parenting stems from the belief that parents need to be respected. In reality, these types of parents believe that they deserve to be treated as a figure of authority.

Authoritarian parents don’t see their children as individual people with feelings or thoughts. They usually say phrases like, “If you respect me, I'll respect you.” However, they often don’t mean respect, and instead, they only treat their child as another person.

They don’t think that their child is intelligent or able to do tasks by themselves because they have limited experience. No matter what feats a child accomplishes, authoritarian parents are rarely satisfied.

Authoritarian parenting is when parents:

  • Don’t listen to their child

  • Don’t respect their child’s independence and personal interests

  • Have a lot of expectations from their child

  • Aren’t consistent or fair when implementing consequences for certain behaviors

  • Uncompromising in their parenting

  • Emotionally disconnected from their child

  • Stern and unsupportive

Authoritarian parents are like drill sergeants. They expect orders to be followed immediately and without questions. Failing to do so will result in punishments.

What is Tiger Parenting?

Tiger parenting is similar to helicopter parenting. Parents are always hovering over their child’s every move, creating a toxic and unhealthy dependency between children and parents.

Like other authoritarian parents, tiger parents are overbearing. They are always controlling their child’s every move, making the child feel suffocated.


Children of authoritarian parents rarely have an amicable relationship with their parents. Their parents' behavior makes the child feel embarrassed around others, leading them to push away from making friends or trying new things.

Children are often told that they are disappointing and worthless. This greatly impacts how they perceive themselves. A majority of children of authoritarian parents have low self-esteem and mental health issues. They are less likely to be successful in life because they doubt their abilities.

Authoritarian parents are harsh on their children because they want to prepare them for the hardships of life. This has a reverse effect.

The world truly can be an unforgiving place. But that is why it is even more important for children to have a safe environment where they can seek help.

As a parent, refusing to provide that environment only makes it harder for your child to overcome their struggles.

parenting style types
Kid Hiding Inside the Pillows

Authoritative Parenting Style

Unlike Authoritarian parenting, Authoritative Parenting is a less restrictive form of parenting. Authoritative parents give their children the space to do what they want and are supportive of their needs and dreams.

At the same time, Authoritative Parents feel it is important to still set boundaries and expectations for their child. They aim to create a balance between a child’s wants and their beliefs.

However, Authoritative parents won’t always accept what their child says or does. While Authoritative parents respect their child’s input, they usually have the upper hand.

Authoritative parenting is when parents:

  • Listen to their child

  • Respect their child’s independence and personal interests

  • Have some expectations from their child

  • Are consistent and fair when implementing consequences for certain behaviors

  • Are strict only when they need to be

  • Emotionally connect to their child

  • Stern but supportive

Authoritative parents are like coaches. They guide their child according to guidelines, but they can also be easygoing.

What is Dolphin Parenting Style?

Dolphin parenting is a form of authoritative parenting and is also similar to Panda parenting (see below). Dolphin parents aren’t restrictive like authoritarian parents, but they do have some control and influence in their child’s life.

Dolphin parents have an authoritative parenting style but use permissive parenting methods to carry out their teachings.


Children of Authoritative parents might feel that they are being controlled when they are young but often grow up to realize that their parents did what they thought was best for them.

They also realize that parents they thought were cool for letting their children do whatever they want were neglectful. A majority of children who grew up with authoritative parents are successful and confident.

They know how to carry out tasks without compromising their emotional needs, allowing them to be truly successful. Because they grew up with affection and respect, children with authoritative parents generally have better self-esteem and are well-rounded.

Authoritative parenting teaches children that they are valued humans and makes them understand that their actions have consequences. Thus teaching them to be self-aware and understanding of others.

Sometimes children don’t understand what is bad for them, and Authoritative parents feel the need to protect their children from those dangers. Unlike Authoritarian parents, they don’t restrict their children in all aspects of their life, but when they do, they do it with reasoning.

Permissive Parenting Style

What Parenting Style is it When You Don’t Say No?

Permissive parenting is known as the parenting method where you don’t say "NO" to your child. Permissive parents rarely set boundaries for their children and instead grant their children free reign. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are neglectful.

Permissive parents are responsive to their child’s needs and they believe that their child knows themselves best.

Permissive parenting is when parents:

  • Respect their child’s opinions

  • Allow their child to make significant decisions by themselves

  • Allow their child to be free to do what they want

  • Are considered ‘friends’ instead of a person of authority or respected figure

  • Don’t set boundaries or consistent rules

  • Don’t regulate a child’s behavior

What is Jellyfish Parenting?

Jellyfish parenting is a relaxed form of permissive parenting. Jellyfish parents set few boundaries, and the rules they do set are rarely implemented.

Jellyfish parenting can be harmful because it teaches a child that consequences are not a big deal. When a jellyfish parent fails to carry out the repercussions for certain behavior, they are teaching their child that they don't have to be held accountable for their actions–which is far from true.

What is Panda Parenting?

Panda parenting is the most ideal form of permissive parenting. Panda parenting is known as a ‘hands-off’ parenting style. Panda's parents are nurturing and caring. They give their child the space to make their own decisions, but they still play a role in the process.

Panda parents ensure their child knows they can come to them when they need help. Children of panda parents know that they are still being observed, making them conscious of their behavior.

Types of parenting
A Dad and a Boy


Permissive parenting may seem like a cool approach to a child-parent relationship, but it is far from admirable. Although permissive parenting isn’t considered neglectful, it can have negative effects.

Most permissive parents grew up with strict parents, and therefore, permissive parents are usually afraid of restricting their child’s freedom.

One of the shortcomings of permissive parenting is that parents can start expecting more from their children. For instance, a permissive parent may refuse to be there for their child when they need them, and expect them to solve their problems on their own.

By avoiding the responsibility of teaching a child, permissive parents can fail to correct their child’s wrong habits. When a situation arises in which a permissive parent needs to control their child’s behavior, they often turn to bribing the child with gifts, resulting in privileged behavior.

Studies show that children of permissive parents struggle to make the right choices and show empathy to others. Because they aren’t used to controlling their behavior, they are often disruptive in schools and public places. Lack of regulation is also why they are more prone to behavioral issues and struggle to control their emotions.

Parents can let their children have freedom of choice while still maintaining boundaries. Children need to recognize that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Failing to respect others or the law can lead to delinquency.

Uninvolved Parenting Style

What is the Most Harmful Parenting Style?

The worst parenting approach is when a parent is not even present in a child’s life.

Uninvolved parents are:

  • Parents that are not directly involved in a child’s life (not in the picture at all)

  • Parents that are indirectly absent (are present but don’t pay much attention to the child).

Uninvolved parenting is when parents:

  • Don’t show interest in a child’s activities (don’t attend ceremonies or PTA’s)

  • Are indifferent to a child’s feelings and needs

  • Focus on their own needs and wants over a child’s

  • Are neglectful (a child always has unhealthy snacks at school instead of nutritious meals)

  • Emotionally distant

  • Don’t reprimand a child unless they are directly affected

Uninvolved parenting can occur consciously or unconsciously. Oftentimes parents that are struggling themselves become indifferent to their children.

Creating a community where parents can seek help is necessary to ensure that children aren’t harmed.


Uninvolved parenting hinders a child’s growth because they have to learn and teach themselves things they should have learned from their parents. They have to raise themselves, which prevents them from achieving milestones in their life healthily and appropriately.

This causes anger directed toward the child’s parents. Children will come to believe that their parents lack the attention was their fault, even though in reality they are victims of neglect.

Having uninvolved parents can cause the worst psychological and physical impacts on a child. It can cause a child to develop differently, making it harder to connect to others emotionally and socially. That is why, uninvolved parenting borders on neglect and abuse.

A child can recognize when they are not valued or loved. It is more painful when these sentiments come from parents, the sole people that should be there for a child when the world is against them.

Children of uninvolved parenting are unable to feel safe and loved and will continue to doubt themselves and their value for the rest of their life.

To learn more about the dangers of childhood neglect: Click Here

On the other hand, authoritarian parenting can also be just as harmful. Over-involvement in a child’s life is just as extreme as lack of involvement. Children might grow up to be resentful of overly strict parents because they are also unable to grow properly. They are unable to make mistakes out of fear of being reprimanded.

Some kids grow up to be adults who say they would rather have had no parents than parents that are present and abusive. This is because the child gets stuck between loving their parents for caring for them and hating them for the way they treated them at other times.

Just like children of uninvolved parents, they will come to doubt their abilities for the rest of their life. Leading them to become dependent on others, or completely avoid others.

What Are The Four C’s Of Parenting?

The four principles of parenting are:

  1. Care

  2. Consistency

  3. Choices

  4. Consequences


Being compassionate towards your child is extremely important. Children thrive in an affectionate and nurturing environment. Failing to provide this environment can cause children to have low self-esteem. This will prevent them from trying and making mistakes, which will hinder their growth and development.


When creating routines or implementing teachings, consistency is very important. This applies to parents as well. If you wish to ingrain good habits in your child’s lifestyle, you need to be consistent.

Consistency also applies to consequences and expectations. If you don’t provide a stable environment for your child, they will have trouble seeking help.

For instance, if the atmosphere of your house is unpredictable, your child will always be on edge.

Similarly, if you tell your child that they will have less screen time because of their inappropriate behavior, but don’t implement those consequences, you are teaching your child to forgo boundaries.


A parent is responsible for helping their child grow so that they can live well on their own. A parent shouldn’t live in a place of a child. This happens when parents live their dreams and want through their child, preventing the child from making their own choices in life.

Dr. Judith Herman, an American psychiatrist created the term complex PTSD to describe long-term trauma. According to,

“One of the key aspects of CPTSD is what Judith Herman referred to as totalitarian control”.

On a public forum, a victim of abuse explained,

“Even without physical abuse, the inability to just be safe being yourself can cause CPTSD. The worst thing a parent can do is rob a child of all agency and identity”.


In sociology, a sanction (or consequence) is a positive or negative reaction to certain behavior. For instance, if a child does well on a test, a parent might reward them with a new bicycle. This is a positive consequence.

There are also negative consequences. Such as retrieving a child’s privileges in response to bad behavior.

Consequences are essential because they help distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behavior. As a parent, you need to give your child positive and negative consequences so that they can understand what is right and wrong.

To read more about raising mindful and mentally strong children, Click Here.

Mother Holding her Baby Girl
Mother Holding Her Baby Girl

What is the Best Parenting Style?

While Authoritative parenting is more commonly accepted and understood, more parents are beginning to implement more gentle forms of parenting into their practices. Children that are raised with authoritative parents are more likely to be confident and self-independent.

Authoritative parenting is important because it ensures discipline while still being understanding of a child. However, researchers are starting to recognize the importance of being gentle towards children.

Gentle Parenting

Cleveland Clinic explains that,

“Gentle parenting focuses on improving a child’s self-awareness and understanding of their own behavior.”

Gentle parenting denounces the idea that parents need to use punishments to make kids understand. Instead, parents use empathy, respect, and mutual understanding.

Jess Martini is an author who explains how being raised with gentle parenting has affected her through childhood and as an adult. She explains that in her experiences, being trusted by her parents and being respected has made it easier for her to bond with her parents. She doesn’t feel the need to hide things from them, because she knows they can work together to overcome obstacles.

The main idea behind gentle parenting is creating a ‘us working together’ mindset instead of the belief that parenting is supposed to be ‘parents vs. children’.

Elephant Parenting

Elephant parenting is another form of gentle parenting. Like gentle parenting, elephant parents focus more on the child’s emotional needs instead of success and image.

Although grades are important, Elephant parents don’t find certification in a child’s academic achievement. Instead, they focus on creating a nurturing environment in which a child can dream.

Elephant parents try to build a connection with their children by showing their children that they can feel safe and secure with them. Elephant parents are usually playful and good at expressing physical and verbal love.

There is no concrete ‘best’ parenting style. Different family situations will require different approaches to parenting.

The key is creating a balance and ensuring the safety and well-being of the child. There will be times when even a gentle parent will have to be strict with their child.

Important Reminder

Parenting techniques aside, some things are never acceptable when it comes to raising children. Acts such as abuse, neglect, and obsessive controlling are often disguised as ‘tough parenting’. This may have been the norm and maybe still to this day, but it doesn’t make it right.

These types of unhealthy techniques can ruin relationships between children and their parents and can lead to deep-rooted problems and trauma in children in the future. But you can still manage to set healthy boundaries with them that don't ruin your relationship.


1. Which parenting style is most encouraged?

An authoritative approach to parenting is highly encouraged by society. In recent years, awareness of gentle parenting is being made, causing public opinion to slowly shift.

2. What parenting style is the best for ADHD?

Researchers found that Authoritative parenting is the best form of parenting for children with ADHD. Children with ADHD need care and understanding, as well as regulation. If a parent is strict with their child and expects them to act in a certain way, they will make it harder for a child with ADHD to function. On the other hand, if a parent leaves the child to do what they want, the child will struggle to adjust because they suffer from hyperactivity and are attention-deficit. An authoritative parenting style can help manage a child’s behavior, while still allowing them to prosper on their own.

3. What is good enough parenting?

There’s no such thing as a perfect parent. Even the most loving and caring parents will have their shortcomings. Those shortcomings will inevitably affect your child, but they won’t actively harm your child unless you fail to learn from those mistakes. Sometimes being yourself is good enough. Sometimes your efforts aren’t enough, and you need to step it up. As long as you are trying, acknowledging your mistakes, and willing to grow–you can be good enough.

4. At what age does parenting get easier?

Some find that parenting is easier during the ages of six and eight. During these years, kids are better at communicating, which helps you bond with them better. They are also easier to care for because you don’t have to worry about them getting into dangerous situations (like crawling into the street). For some parents, parenting doesn’t get easier. People often describe it in this way: “Parenting doesn’t get easier, it just gets different.” That said, parenting is a lot easier when you don’t have a ‘us vs. them kids’ mentality.

5. What is the hardest period of parenting?

Many would argue that the teen years are the hardest for parents and children alike. During the younger ages, parenting is more focused on the physical needs of a child in comparison to emotional needs. In the teen years, children can voice their physical needs and even care for themselves. However, parents have to care for their child’s emotional needs more diligently, and this is why parenting can be a lot harder during those years.

Takeaway from Sheasmother

There is often discourse over what the ‘correct’ way of parenting is. With time, many learn that there can never be only one acceptable way of caring for children. Different cultures, experiences, personalities, identities, and knowledge all influence the way children are raised.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Learning about different parenting styles can help expand your existing methods, and respect other parents and their methods.

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