Types of Parenting Styles: Which Is Best?

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What are the different types of parenting styles? How can you identify a parenting style, and which one leads to kids having grit?

There are 4 types of parenting styles: permissive parenting, neglectful parenting, authoritarian parenting, and wise parenting. Wise parenting leads to the best outcomes.

Read more about the types of parenting styles and what they mean.

Types of Parenting Styles

The different parenting styles are split on two axes to create four types of parenting styles:

  • Demanding ←→ Undemanding
  • Supportive ←→ Unsupportive

This forms a 2×2 grid of different parenting styles:

UndemandingDemanding
SupportivePermissive ParentingWise Parenting
UnsupportiveNeglectful ParentingAuthoritarian Parenting

(Wise parenting is also known as authoritative parenting.)

You might think that being demanding puts too much pressure on kids and is unsupportive. But this is a myth. High standards and loving support don’t exist on the same spectrum, and increasing standards doesn’t mean being less supportive. Parents who fear having high standards swing too hard in the other direction, giving unconditional support and open latitude, which isn’t good for grit.

Children aren’t always the better judge of what to do, how hard to work, and when to give up. They need proper reinforcement from adults to hone this sense.

Wise Parenting Leads to Better Outcomes

Wise parenting produces kids who get higher grades, are more self-reliant, and experience less anxiety and depression. This is generally true across ethnicity, social class, and marital status.

  • For instance, white children of middle class, non-intact families showed a GPA difference of 3.14 vs 2.73 for authoritative vs nonauthoritative parenting. Black children of working class, non-intact families showed GPA differences of 2.78 vs 2.42. 

As children age, wise parenting leads to the healthiest behavior of all types of parenting styles. 

  • Children of neglectful parents performed worst, drinking alcohol and smoking at a rate twice as much as their wise-parented peers. They also showed multiples more rates of antisocial behavior and internalizing symptoms (depression). 
  • Indulgent parenting produced children slightly better than neglectful parenting. 
  • Compared to wise parenting, authoritarian parenting produced children with similar alcohol and smoking use, but slightly more antisocial behavior and noticeably more internalizing symptoms.

How to Distinguish the Types of Parenting Styles

How do you distinguish the 4 types of parenting styles? The following statements are posed to children. (The lines in italics are inverted.)

Supportive: Warm 

  • I can rely on my parents to help me with my problems. 
  • I spend time talking with my parents. 
  • My parents and I do fun things together. 
  • My parents don’t like when I tell them my problems. 
  • When I do well, my parents don’t praise me. 

Supportive: Respectful

  • My parents respect my point of view.
  • My parents say they’re correct and that I shouldn’t question their ideas. 
  • My parents respect my privacy. 
  • My parents give me personal freedom. 
  • My parents decide what I should do most of the time. 

Demanding

  • My parents clarify family rules and expect me to follow them.
  • When I do something wrong, my parents let me get away with it and don’t punish me. 
  • My parents suggest how I can do better in the future. 
  • My parents want me to try my best, even when it’s hard.

These 4 types of parenting styles can help you understand your parenting style, and decide how to parent with grit.

Types of Parenting Styles: Which Is Best?

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Angela Duckworth's "Grit" at Shortform.

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  • How your grit can predict your success
  • The 4 components that make up grit
  • Why focusing on talent means you overlook true potential

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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