Parenting Styles

Parenting Styles

Many authors refer to various parenting styles, and some have their own unique styles (for example John Gottman). Most authors, however, describe some variation of three general styles of parenting. These are: authoritarian, permissive, and balanced.

The authoritarian style is one in which the parent is strict, definite about setting limits for children, and “rules with an iron fist.” This style is considered autocratic in that the parent tends to be heavy-handed in making decisions for the children, and leaves relatively little room for child decision-making.

The permissive style is pretty much the opposite. The parent is weak about setting and enforcing linmits, and lets the children make many decisions on their own without the parent providing much guidance. This parenting style is often used by parents who are not sure of how to be a parent, and may feel “run over” by their children.

The balanced style is a combination of the other two. This parent can be lenient at times but also strict at times, and tends to be a lot more flexible in both allowing children to make their own decisions as well as in setting limits and providing guidance.

While I think there is a lot of validity to these categories of parenting style, I also believe that within the continuum of autocratic to permissive there are a number of roles that parents play in terms of providing leadership for their children on a day-to-day basis, and in a wide variety of situations.

From most autocratic to most permissive, I identify six different “leadership roles” parents may play depending on circumstances. From most autocratic (heavy handed) to most permissive (weak) the roles are:

  1. Sheriff, or drill sargent
  2. Boss
  3. Coach, or guide
  4. Consultant
  5. Friend
  6. Servant

To see a more detailed chart explaining these roles, and how they relate to the standard authoritarian-blanced-permissive parenting styles, click on this link:  Parent Leadership Model.


3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my book  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model and the New School Parenting model.  Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

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