Wanna know the first time I started looking into parenting styles for myself? Well… there was this incident where I started laughing as my daughter yelled “puck” at the cat. Yes, that translates into an adult “fuck.” I know, I’m a horrible mom. I laughed as my daughter yelled.

Look, I knew my reaction was wrong but don’t you ever have moments where your kids do something horrible and you surprise yourself my laughing, unable to hold your shit together? That was my moment… and it actually led me to research why the hell I’m such a weird mom. ‘Cause I’m sure no other mama on this universe has laughed at their kid doing weird things (that was my attempt at sarcasm…)

So long story short, during my research about my parenting “fail-pisode” I came across Baumrind’s Parenting Styles test. Wouldn’t you know, they have tests about what kind of mama you are. Just to be sure I went on 4 different sites and took 4 different tests. My results were… well, consistent.

And begins my semi-obsessive journey with Baumrind’s Parenting Styles and how We… Us… The Parents parenting styles or actions ultimately affect our kids.

Have you ever thought about how the way you parent could possibly make your kid a good or bad student? Or maybe socially awkward or a friend magnet? What about someone who’s confident or depressed? If you’ve ever wondered, that’s basically the whole idea behind Baumrind’s Parenting Styles research.

Thank goodness for us modern, busy parents developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind and her research team set out to conduct a study on more than 100 preschool children to find out how parenting styles affect the our kids in the future.

Observing families in their everyday life, interviewing parents and using other research methods Baumrind actually only identified 3 types of parenting styles in her research. It was later that Maccoby and Martin added a 4th type of parenting style.

We’ll cover all 4 here.

2 Elements In Baumrind’s Parenting Styles

In Baumrind’s Parenting Styles research, she found 2 elements that she thought was so important that she based her whole study around them. These 2 elements were:

  • Parent Responsiveness vs Unresponsiveness

This describes the ability for the parent to respond to and meet the needs of their kids. Highly responsive parents tend to hover over their kids over every little need (what some recently call helicopter parenting) while unresponsive parents ignore their kids almost completely.

  • Parent Demandingness vs Low Demandingness

Demandingness is the amount of demand the parent places on the children in terms of supervision, discipline, and control. Parents with a high demand show strong control over their kids while parents with low demands place absolutely no restriction on their kids’ behaviors.

Baumrind’s parenting styles fall in 1 of 4 quadrants depending on whether you’re high or low in responsiveness, or high or low in demandingness.

4 different parenting styles infographic


  • Authoritative parent: high on demandingness and high in responsiveness
  • Authoritarian parent: high on demandingness but low in responsiveness
  • Permissive parent: high on responsiveness but low on demandingness
  • Neglectful parent: low in both demand and responsiveness


Baumrind’s Parenting Styles 

1. Authoritarian Parenting

This parenting style can be described as a dictatorship style parenting. Kids are expected to follow rules or they’re punished.

How they discipline kids

Threat and punishment

Characteristics of Authoritarian Parents

  • Very conservative
  • Rules are expected to be followed without exception, question, or negotiations
  • Parents want to control their kids
  • They see everything as good or bad, there is no middle ground
  • They don’t reward or praise their kids

Effect on Kids

  • Kids of authoritative parents are very well behaved
  • They behave out of fear
  • They obey authority very well and because of that generally do very well in school
  • They’ve never had a chance to make independent choices so they lack decision-making skills
  • They tend to lack social skills
  • Kids tend to suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression

 2. Permissive Parenting

Permissive parents parent their kids with little to no discipline and allow them to do anything they want. The parents usually want to be the kid’s friend instead of the parent, and generally hate any conflict with their kid.

How they discipline kids

Reasoning, manipulation, and bribes.

Characteristics of Permissive Parents

  • Kids are viewed as equal and are allowed to make their own choices
  • They hate any conflict with their kids
  • They don’t like to discipline their kid
  • Discipline is looked at as not allowing the kid think independently
  • They respond to their kids in a very accepting manner

Effect on Kids

  • Kids tend to have no respect for authority
  • They believe that rules don’t apply to them
  • Kids tend to be impulsive and do what they feel like doing
  • They tend to get involved in bad behavior such as drugs, gangs, and alcohol
  • They tend to do badly in school
  • Because they were parented as being equals, they tend to have high social skills, good self-esteem, and low levels of depression.

3. Authoritative Parenting

According to Baumrind, this is the middle ground of parenting. It takes the best of both worlds from Authoritative and Permissive parenting styles. Many experts see this as the ideal type of parenting style.

How they discipline kids

Use of firm and fair reasoning, moderate negotiations, and positive reinforcement. 

Characteristics of Authoritative Parents

  • Parents are firm and their standards for the kid’s behavior is high
  • They want their kids to live up to their full potential within firm boundaries
  • Assertive without being restrictive
  • They want their kids to be assertive and socially responsible
  • They make an effort to understand their kid
  • They think of ways to solve problems and listen to their kids

Effect on Kids

  • They have strong decision-making skills and take responsibility for their actions
  • They have good social skills and are happy
  • They tend to do well in school
  • They’re self-confident and goal oriented

 4. Neglectful Parenting

This is the 4th parenting style founded by Maccoby and Martin. Also referred to as uninvolved parenting. They take care of the basic need for their kids but is uninvolved in every other aspect.

How they discipline kids

Because they are emotionally detached from their kids, there is no form of discipline.

Characteristics of Authoritative Parents

  • Meet the kid’s basic needs but uninvolved in other parts of parenting
  • They usually suffer from mental health issues or substance abuse problems or have a hard time dealing with pressures of parenting financially and emotionally
  • They have little to no rules for the kids to follow
  • They usually don’t know what their kid is doing
  • They don’t provide any nurturing, guidance, or love

Effect on kids

  • Kids usually have very low self-esteem
  • They usually perform the worst in school or any activity they participate in
  • They lack social skills
  • They tend to be heavily involved in drugs, alcohol, gangs, or violent behaviors


Controversies for Baumrind’s Parenting Styles

Like anything in life, there’s always pros and cons. I didn’t want to present you with all the goodie, gooey stuff without the controversy that surrounds the study as well. Here are the 4 main controversies that surround Baumrind’s Parenting Styles study.

  1. The study was done in 1960. Hey, I believe that oldies can be goodies. However, in her research, it shows that she had a preference for parents having strong control over their kids. She believed that having strong control over kids was an ideal form of parenting. Many researchers think that this preference may have skewed her study.
  2. Undesired outcomes. There were many cases where the outcome of the child’s behavior was inconsistent with the parenting style. For example, an authoritative parent would have a child that was very defiant. This led researchers to believe that a child’s temperament had a lot to do with the outcome of the child’s behavior in addition to Baumrind’s parenting styles.
  3. Cultural Differences. Baumrind’s parenting styles only take into account “White” families. The so called BEST parenting style, Authoritative, didn’t affect school performance among African American or Asian American kids.
  4. More than 1 solution. In recent years many people have argued that raising a successful child depends on much more than just the parents parenting style. There are factors such as culture, the kids’ perception of parental treatment, and social influence.

How To Use Parenting Styles In Your Family

Nothing is ever the perfect solution for parenting. You take what works for you and your family, apply it, tweak it, and keep moving forward. Like I said, I had to look into my own parenting style after I started laughing when my daughter yelled “puck.” My OCD personality made me take 4 tests to find out my parenting style.

Regardless of what Baumrind’s parenting styles research shows, I think we can all agree that it’s never the wisest thing to be intensely involved or not involved at all. Doing things in moderation will usually ensure a favorable outcome.

With that said, if you’ve never thought about the way you parent and the effect it can have on your child this post should’ve opened your eyes to ways you can improve your own parenting approach. You can actually go here to take the test for yourself

So here’s how you should use Baumrind’s parenting styles research for your own family:

  1. First take note of where you are on the axes of responsiveness. Are you super responsive, not responsive at all, or right in the middle?
  2. Take note of where you are on the axes of demandingness. Are you very demanding, not demanding at all, or right in the middle?
  3. If you tend to lean strongly towards one axes, adjust the way you parent so you try to be in the middle. If you are too permissive, try putting some boundaries for your kids. If you are too strict, try allowing your kids to have a voice and make small decisions.

I hope this post shed some new light on the way you parent and how it can affect your child. We’d love to know what your current parenting style is. Share with us in the comments below!