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What Are the Best Parenting Styles, and How to Choose

As expecting parents, you know that your world is about to change. Your new little bundle of joy is going to change your lives in ways that you probably haven't even thought about yet.

There is a ton to do when planning for your new arrival. In addition to choosing a hospital and working on a birth plan, there is choosing a name, your nursery décor, breastfeeding or bottle feeding, whether or not to baby wear, and so much more.

Have you had a talk about parenting styles yet?

There are many different parenting styles, and it helps to be on the same page with your partner about child rearing strategies before your baby is born. That way, your child will come to expect the same type of care from both you and your partner.

Types of Parenting Styles

According to psychological research, there are several different types of parenting styles, three of which lead to typically positive outcomes for children.

  1. Attachment Parenting is a parenting style that emphasizes the attachment bond between the parent and child. In this approach, many parents will emphasize co-sleeping, feeding on demand, holding and touching the child, and responsiveness to crying. The aim of this parenting style is to create a secure attachment with your child, so that they will feel safe and loved. According to Psychology Today, "What attachment theory and parenting style theory propose, instead, is that parents provide their children with a firm basis of support (a “safe haven") and adjust their expectations and attention to their needs to the child’s developmental level."

  2. Positive Parenting, is another child-centered parenting approach that is focused on a child's feelings and self-esteem. According to Bosco, Positive Parenting "involves empowering children and providing them support no matter what in order to boost their self-esteem—something psychologists say will help them thrive later in life. One aspect of this style presents parenting as something people do for their children, implying that they must give up their own desires and interests in order to better allow their child to follow his or her own dreams, interests and ambitions. Positive parenting basically revolves around the idea that children should be encouraged, respected and guided through life without any fear or negativity."

  3. Authoritative Parenting is a parenting style that focuses on being responsive to a child's needs while also teaching them to be disciplined in their behavior. According to Bosco, "While parents are strict and still set rules, they also encourage open discussion with their kids and try to show empathy. Authoritative parents are often patient and calm; they take children’s perspectives into account and therefore their rules are fluid, not set in stone. They also teach their kids why rules and regulations should be followed as opposed to making them blindly obey."

  4. Authoritarian Parenting is a parenting style that focuses on teaching your child to obey you without leaving room for them to question or negotiate. According to Very Well Mind, Authoritarian parents are famous for saying, "Because I said so," when a child questions the reasons behind a rule. They are not interested in negotiating and their focus is on obedience. They also don't allow kids to get involved in problem-solving challenges or obstacles. Instead, they make the rules and enforce the consequences with little regard for a child's opinion. Authoritarian parents may use punishments instead of discipline. So rather than teach a child how to make better choices, they're invested in making kids feel sorry for their mistakes."

  5. Permissive Parenting is also a child-centered approach, where parents let their kids be kids and run free. According to Very Well Mind, "When they do use consequences, they may not make those consequences stick. They might give privileges back if a child begs or they may allow a child to get out of time-out early if he promises to be good. Permissive parents usually take on more of a friend role than a parent role. They often encourage their children to talk with them about their problems, but they usually don't put much effort into discouraging poor choices or bad behavior."

  6. Uninvolved Parenting is a hands-off parenting approach where the parents can at times be neglectful of a child's needs. According to Very Well Mind, "Uninvolved parents expect children to raise themselves. They don't devote much time or energy into meeting children's basic needs. Uninvolved parents may be neglectful but it's not always intentional. A parent with mental health issues or substance abuse problems, for example, may not be able to care for a child's physical or emotional needs on a consistent basis. At other times, uninvolved parents lack knowledge about child development. And sometimes, they're simply overwhelmed with other problems, like work, paying bills, and managing a household."

Child Outcomes

When you are choosing a parenting style, the first three child-centered approaches tends to have the best results in the long-term. While Authoritarian or Permissive parenting may seem to work well in the short-term, there can be negative long-term consequences to both styles.

According to Bosco,

While every parent ultimately has the right to choose for him or herself, certain parenting styles are obviously better than others. Authoritarian parents fail to explain why the rules are important, leaving out an important step in parenting. Permissive parents don’t consider the long-term consequences of letting their children act however they want. They show plenty of love, but that doesn’t create a well-rounded child. Uninvolved parents are all-around negative. Instead, consider either authoritative or positive parenting. Authoritative parenting can lead to calm and relaxed children who follow the rules without being asked while positive parenting promotes healthy brain development and positivity.

When you look at the research to make a decision in which parenting style that you will choose, it is important to be in constant dialogue with your partner.

My partner and I chose an Attachment parenting approach, and although at times it is difficult when it comes to discipline, it has worked well for us overall.

Explaining why you have told your child "no" can be time consuming in the moment, but after a time, our daughter learns to internalize rules. For example, she knows not to go into the street without looking both ways and waiting for the walk signal. Since we have explained this to her, she knows that she is not supposed to go in the street because of cars.

Positive and Authoritative Parenting are also both good parenting styles, so choosing any of these three styles will serve you well.

If you are interested in more information, you can also read about how early attachment effects later relationships.

Let me know if you have any questions about choosing a parenting style that is right for you, and I will be happy to answer them! Also, if there are topics you would like to read in a future post, let me know about that too!

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