Parenting style refers to the way in which a parent chooses to raise their offspring. While not every parent falls neatly into one category, there are four main categories that parents often fall into - authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful. These parenting styles generally correspond with the type of discipline a parent chooses to use with his/her child(ren).
Authoritarian parents tend to be very strict parents. There is a low level of acceptance and involvement in the child's life, and these parents exhibit a tremendous amount of control over their child's life. Authoritarian parents set rigid rules with consequences that don't always fit the wrong behavior. These parents make a lot of unnecessary demands on their child, and they may yell, demand, criticize and threaten. Children who grow up in authoritarian homes tend to be anxious and suffer from self-esteem problems. Due to gender socialization, those raised as male may experience anger problems, while those raised as female may be dependent upon others for approval. Although these children may do poorly in school, they do not tend to engage in antisocial behavior due to fear of their parents' reaction.
Permissive parenting tends to be warm and loving, but with little follow through on setting limits or rules. Permissive parents are overindulgent and allow their children to make their own decisions, right or wrong. On the flip side, these parents might be caught up in their own lives and therefore inattentive (although not neglectful) and exhibit little control over their children. Many times, permissive parents are described as being their child's "friend." Children raised by permissive parents may be disobedient and lack respect for authority; they may act impulsively and can be overly demanding, due to always getting what they want.
Authoritative parenting is generally regarded as the most successful approach to parenting, due to its high level of involvement and balanced levels of control. Authoritative parents set realistic expectations for their children, and they provide their children with fair (or natural) consequences. Natural consequences are those that occur as a result of the child's behavior (or lack of a particular behavior). Authoritative parents talk and listen to their children, provide opportunity for independence, and provide explanation for discipline. Children who grow up in authoritative homes tend to become competent adults who have social and moral maturity; they know how to work together with others and are effective decision-makers.
Neglectful parents are usually uninvolved in their children's lives or involved in a negative way. These parents are not present when their children need them, or they tend to be caught up in their own problems and issues. Neglectful parents may look to their children for support and guidance, and these children end up "parenting their parents." Other forms of neglectful parenting include not providing adequate basic resources or placing the child in harmful situations. These children, much like those raised in permissive homes, tend to have a myriad of problems, but the problems are often much more serious.