The Four Parenting Styles

July 29, 2019

Parenting Styles

About 30 years ago, psychologists identified four basic styles of parenting. Each style reflects a different way of relating and communicating to your kids, and involves different combinations of emotional responsiveness – warmth, control, communication style and expectation. One of these styles, the authoritative (heart-to-heart) has been shown to be very effective in reducing risky behaviors in teens, including binge drinking. Scroll to learn about each one.


The authoritative parenting style, or as we call it, the heart-to-heart style, can be best described as “demanding and responsive.” Employing a child-centered approach, authoritative parents encourage their teen’s independence while at the same time teaching them responsibility. Authoritative parents show high levels of warmth, encourage frequent and honest two-way communication, exercise control and fair discipline and set clear boundaries.

Characteristics of authoritative parents:

  • Listen to their children.
  • Encourage independence.
  • Set limits, consequences and expectations on their children’s behavior.
  • Express warmth and nurturance.
  • Allow children to express opinions.
  • Encourage children to discuss options.
  • Administer fair and consistent discipline.

Teens with authoritative parents:

  • Are self-confident.
  • Have happier dispositions.
  • Have good emotional control and regulation.
  • Develop good social skills.





Sometimes referred to as strict parenting, the authoritarian parenting style can be best described as “demanding, but unresponsive.” Obedience-oriented, authoritarian parents have high expectations for their children and set very strict rules that they believe their children should accept – without question. This parenting styles is often characterized by harsh, punitive parenting methods. Teens raised with the authoritarian parenting style are 2x more likely to participate in heavy drinking.

Characteristics of authoritarian parents:

  • Set strict rules and expectations.
  • Do not express much warmth or nurturing.
  • Impose punishments with little or no explanation.
  • Do not provide adolescents choices or options.

Teens with authoritarian parents:

  • Tend to associate obedience and success with love.
  • Display more aggressive behavior outside the home.
  • May act fearful or overly shy around others.
  • Often have lower self-esteem.
  • Have difficulty in social situations.





Sometimes referred to as indulgent or lenient parenting, the permissive parenting styles can be best described as “responsive, but undemanding.” Utilizing a friend-first approach, permissive parents avoid confrontations, allow immature behavior and make few, if any, demands upon their children. As a result, this parenting style is often characterized by low expectations and little discipline. Teens raised with permissive parenting styles are 3x more likely to participate in heavy drinking.

Characteristics of permissive parents:

  • Set few rules or standards of behavior.
  • Typically, very nurturing and loving toward their children.
  • Act more like a friend, rather than a parent.
  • Use bribery such as git and food to get children to behave.

Teens with permissive parents:

  • Lack self-discipline.
  • May have poor social skills.
  • May be self-involved and demanding.
  • May feel insecure due to lack of boundaries and guidance.





Sometimes referred to as neglectful, detached or hands-off parenting, the uninvolved parenting style can be best described as “unresponsive and undemanding.” Uninvolved parents have little emotional involvement with their children. In fact, aside from providing basic needs like food and shelter, uninvolved parents are mostly absent from their children’s lives. Often formed by selfishness and internal strife, this parenting style is characterized by an overall lack of love and supervision. Teens raise by uninvolved parents are 4x more likely to participate in heavy drinking.

Characteristics of uninvolved parents:

  • Are emotionally distant from their children.
  • Show little warmth, love and affection toward their children.
  • Have few or no expectations for behavior and offer little or no supervision.
  • Are often too overwhelmed by their own problems to deal with their children.

Teens with uninvolved parents:

  • Must learn to provide for themselves.
  • Are often emotionally withdrawn.
  • Tend to exhibit more delinquency during adolescence.
  • Feel fear, anxiety or stress due to lack of family support.
  • Have an increased risk of substance abuse.