Baumrind’s Parenting Styles

Joel A. Muraco, Wendy Ruiz, Rebecca Laff, Ross Thompson, and Diana Lang

Diana Baumrind’s Parenting Styles

The parenting style used to rear a child will likely impact that child’s future success in romantic, peer and parenting relationships.  Diana Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist, coined the following parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive/indulgent, Later, Maccoby and Martin added the uninvolved/neglectful style.[1]

Figure 1. Like effective teaching, effective parenting requires a mix of authoritative and considerate responses to a child’s needs. This balance can lead to more appreciative child behavior.

It is beneficial to evaluate the support and demandingness of a caregiver in order to determine which style is being used and how to effectively use it.  Support refers to the amount of affection, acceptance, and warmth a parent provides to a child.  Demandingness refers to the degree a parent controls a child’s behavior.

Authoritative Parenting

In general, children tend to develop greater competence and self-confidence when parents have high-but reasonable and consistent- expectations for children’s behavior, communicate well with them, are warm and responsive, and use reasoning rather than coercion to guide children’s behaviors.  This kind of parenting style has been described as authoritative.[2]  Parents who use this style are supportive and show interest in their kids’ activities but are not overbearing and allow children to make constructive mistakes.  This “tender teacher” approach deemed the most optimal parenting style to use in western cultures.  Children whose parents use the authoritative style are generally happy, capable, and successful.[3]

Authoritarian Parenting

Figure 2. Authoritarian parenting called “rigid ruler” in part because wooden rulers were often used for capital punishment in the 20th century.

Parents using the authoritarian (“rigid ruler”) approach are low in support and high in demandingness.  These parents expect and demand obedience because they are “in charge” and they do not provide any explanations for their orders.[4]  Parents also provide well-ordered and structured environments with clearly stated rules.

Many would conclude that this is the parenting style used by Harry Potter’s harsh aunt and uncle, and Cinderella’s vindictive stepmother.  Children reared in environments using the authoritarian approach are more likely to be obedient and proficient, but score lower in happiness, social competence, and self-esteem.

Permissive Parenting

Parents who are high in support and low in demandingness are likely using the permissive-also called the indulgent-style.  Their children tend to rank low in happiness and self-regulation, and are more likely to have problems with authority.  Parents using this approach are lenient, do not expect their children to adhere to boundaries or rules, and avoid confrontation.[5]

Uninvolved Parenting

Children reared by parents who are low in both support and demandingness tend to rank lowest across all life domains, lack self-control, have low self-esteem, and are less competent than their peers.  Parents using the uninvolved (or sometimes referred to as indifferent or neglectful) approach are neglectful or rejecting of their children and do not provide most, if any, necessary parenting responsibilities.

Video Example

Watch this video about Baumrind’s parenting styles.

Parenting Styles and Outcomes for Children

Parenting style has been found to predict child well-being in the domains of social competence, academic performance, psychosocial development, and problem behavior.  Research in the United States, based on parent interviews, child reports, and parent observations consistently finds:

  • Children and adolescents whose parents use the authoritative style typically rate themselves and are rated by objective measures as more socially and instrumentally competent than those whose parents do not use the authoritative style.[6] [7] [8]
  • Children and adolescents whose parents are uninvolved typically perform most poorly in all domains.

In general, parental responsiveness tends to predict social competence and psychosocial functioning, while parental demandingness is typically associated with instrumental competence and behavioral control (e.g., academic performance and deviance). These findings indicate:

  • Children and adolescents reared in households using the authoritarian style (high in demandingness, but low in responsiveness) tend to perform moderately well in school and be uninvolved in problem behavior, but tend to have poorer social skills, lower self-esteem, and higher levels of depression when compared to their peers who are reared in households using the authoritative approach.
  • Children and adolescents reared in homes using the indulgent style (high in responsiveness, low in demandingness) tend to be more involved in problem behavior and perform less well in school, but they have been shown to have higher self-esteem, better social skills, and lower levels of depression when compared to their peers who are not reared using the indulgent style.[9]
Table 1. Four parenting styles. Other, less advantageous parenting styles include authoritarian (in contrast to authoritative), permissive, and uninvolved.
Support (Low) Support (High)
Demand (Low) Uninvolved Permissive
Demand (High Authoritarian Authoritative

In reviewing the literature on parenting styles, it is apparent that using the authoritative parenting style is associated with both instrumental and social competence and lower levels of problem behavior at all developmental stages for youth in the United States.  The benefits of using the authoritative parenting style and the detrimental effects of the uninvolved parenting style are evident as early as the preschool years and continue throughout adolescence and into early adulthood.

Support for Baumrind’s Authoritative Parenting

Support for the benefits of authoritative parenting has been found in countries as diverse as the Czech Republic,[10] India,[11] China,[12] Israel,[13] and Palestine.[14] In fact, authoritative parenting appears to be superior in Western, individualistic societies—so much so that some people have argued that there is no longer a need to study it.[15]

Other researchers are less certain about authoritative parenting and point to differences in cultural values and beliefs.  For example, while many children reared in European-American cultures fare poorly with too much strictness (authoritarian parenting), children reared in Chinese cultures often perform well, especially academically.  The reason for this likely stems from Chinese culture viewing strictness in parenting as related to training, which is not central to American parenting beliefs.[16]

As children mature, parent-child relationships should naturally adapt to accommodate developmental changes.  Parent-child relationships that do not adapt to a child’s abilities can lead to high parent-child conflict and ultimately a reduced parent-child relationship quality.[17]

Key Takeaways

  • The authoritative (the “tender teacher”) approach is the most optimal style for use in the U.S.
  • The ways in which parents rear children can have lifelong impacts on children’s development.

  1. Baumrind's Parenting Styles is an adaptation of Child, Family, and Community (Chapter 6: A Closer Look at Parenting) by Laff & Ruiz (2019), licensed CC BY 4.0 and Social and Personality Development in Childhood by Ross Thompson, licensed CC BY NC SA.
  2. Baumrind, D. (2013). Authoritative parenting revisited: History and current status. In R. E. Larzelere, A. Sheffield, & A. W. Harrist (Eds.), Authoritative parenting: Synthesizing nurturance and discipline for optimal child development. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
  3. Maccoby, E. E. (1992). The role of parents in the socialization of children: An historical overview. Developmental Psychology, 28(6), 1006–1017.
  4. Baumrind, D. (1991). Parenting styles and adolescent development. In J. Brooks-Gunn, R. M. Lerner, & A. C. Petersen (Eds.), The encyclopedia on adolescence (pp. 746-758). New York: Garland Publishing.
  5. Baumrind, D. (1991). Parenting styles and adolescent development. In J. Brooks-Gunn, R. M. Lerner, & A. C. Petersen (Eds.), The Encyclopedia on Adolescence (pp. 746-758). New York: Garland Publishing.
  6. Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56-95.
  7. Weiss, L. H., & Schwarz, J. C. (1996). The relationship between parenting types and older adolescents' personality, academic achievement, adjustment, and substance use. Child Development, 67(5), 2101-2114. EJ 539 840.
  8. Miller, N. B., Cowan, P. A., Cowan, C. P., & Hetherington, E. M. (1993). Externalizing in preschoolers and early adolescents: A cross-study replication of a family model. Developmental Psychology, 29(1), 3-18. EJ 461 700.
  9. Darling, N. (1999). Parenting style and its correlates. ERIC digest. Retrieved from https://www.ericdigests.org/1999-4/parenting.htm
  10. Dmitrieva, J., Chen, C., Greenberger, E., & Gil-Rivas, V. (2004). Family relationships and adolescent psychosocial outcomes: Converging findings from Eastern and Western cultures. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 14, 425-447.
  11. Carson, D., Chowdhurry, A., Perry, C., & Pati, C. (1999). Family characteristics and adolescent competence in India: Investigation of youth in southern Orissa. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 28, 211-233.
  12. Pilgrim, C., Luo, Q., Urberg, K.A., & Fang, X. (1999). Influence of peers, parents, and individual characteristics on adolescent drug use in two cultures. Merril-Palmer Quarterly, 45, 85-107.
  13. Mayseless, O., Scharf, M., & Sholt, M. (2003). From authoritative parenting practices to an authoritarian context: Exploring the person-environment fit. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 17, 23-50.
  14. Punamaki, R., Qouta, S., & Sarraj, E. (1997). Models of traumatic experiences and children’s psychological adjustment: The roles of perceived parenting and the children’s own resources and activity. Child Development, 68, 718-728.
  15. Steinberg, L. (2001). We know some things: Adolescent-parent relationships in retrospect and prospect. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 11, 1-19.
  16. Chao, R. K. (1994). Beyond parental control and authoritarian parenting style: Understanding Chinese parenting through the cultural notion of training. Child Development, 65, 1111-1119.
  17. Support for Baumrind's Authoritative Parenting is taken from The Family by Joel A Muraco, licensed CC BY NC SA.

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Baumrind's Parenting Styles by Joel A. Muraco, Wendy Ruiz, Rebecca Laff, Ross Thompson, and Diana Lang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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