The 4 styles of parenting

Written by Pragya Lodha
Published: September 12, 2021
The Mumbai Program Director & Clinical Psychologist at The MINDS Foundation. Honorary Associate Editor for the Indian Journal of Mental Health with over 100 National and International publications

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What Does It Mean To Be A Parent?

Being a parent is a big responsibility that requires care, love, and understanding. Parents are the first teachers for children and yet most parents don’t know that a child learns everything from their parents right from birth. The attitudes, values, verbal and non-verbal behavior modeled by the parents are what the child learns to follow. A large part of a child’s personality and emotionality is shaped by the parenting they receive. Thus, parenting can have a huge impact on the future of a child.

There are four major styles of parenting: 

1. Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting is widely regarded as the most effective and beneficial parenting style for children. Authoritative parents are marked by the high expectations that they have of their children, but temper these expectations with understanding a support for their children as well. This type of parenting creates the assistance so that they can get back on track to having a healthy and communicative relationship within the family. healthiest environment for a growing child, and helps to foster a productive relationship between parent and child.

How to recognize if you are an authoritative parent:

  • Does your child’s day have structure to it, such as a planned bedtime and understood household rules?
  • Are there consequences for disrupting this structure or breaking the household rules?
  • Does your child understand the expectations that you have for their behavior, and are these expectations reasonable?
  • Do you have a healthy and open line of communication with your child? That is, does your child feel that they can speak to you about anything without fear of negative consequence or harsh judgment?

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2. Neglectful Parenting

Neglectful parenting is one of the most harmful styles of parenting that can be used on a child. This means that the parent is uninvolved in many or all aspects of their child’s life, meaning that they are emotionally distant, spend very little time with their child, and set very low expectations for their child.

If you suspect you or a friend may be a neglectful parent, consider the following questions:

  • Do you care for your child’s needs—emotional, physical, and otherwise?
  • Do you have an understanding of what is going on in your child’s life?
  • Does the home provide a safe space for the child where they can share their experiences and expect positive feedback rather than negative or no feedback?
  • Do you spend long periods of time away from home, leaving the child alone?
  • Do you often find yourself making excuses for not being there for your child?
  • Do you know your child’s friends? Teachers?
  • Are you involved in your child’s life outside the home?
3. Permissive Parenting

Permissive parenting, also known as ‘indulgent parenting’ is another potentially harmful style of parenting. These parents tend to be caring, but lenient and undemanding. There are often very few rules set for the children, which means that children experience a lack of structure growing up, resulting in poor self-discipline and self-control as adults.

4. Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parenting, also called ‘strict parenting’, is characterized by parents who are demanding but not responsive. This means that parents expect their children to follow a strict set of rules with harsh consequences for breaking them, and very rarely have open conversations with their children.

Are you or a friend an authoritarian parent? Consider these questions:

  • Do you have very strict rules that you believe should be followed no matter what?
  • Do you often find yourself offering no explanations for the rules other than “because I said so?”
  • Do you give your child very few choices about their own life?
  • Do you find yourself using punishment as a means of getting your child to do what you ask?
  • Do you limit the amount of love and affection you show your child?

It is important to note that parenting style is not the only factor that impacts child’s development, factors that also play an important role in the development of the child are:

  • Child’s temperament
  • Peer’s influences
  • Teacher’s influence
  • Other environmental factors


Author: Pragya Lodha, MINDS Mumbai Program Director & Psychologist


Ankita Gupta, MINDS Research Associate
Anoushka Thakkar, MINDS Research Associate
Roshni Dadlani, MINDS Communications Lead

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The views expressed are that of the expert alone.

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