Parenting styles differ from family to family, and may even vary from day to day within one family. All parents make decisions for their children that may be more strict or more indulgent on occasion. For the most part, however, the way that one parents falls into one of three general parenting methods. These are authoritative, authoritarian and permissive parenting styles.
Authoritative parents are firm, loving and kind. They set boundaries and expect their children to abide by them. Neither overly strict nor overly indulgent, authoritative parents strike a good balance between expectations that are too high and expectations that are too low. These parents allow their children to make choices that are age-appropriate, encouraging them to take on more responsibility as they grow. They respond well to the needs of their child, but do not give in to every desire. They give their child reasons for certain rules and guidelines, and allow natural consequences to take place whenever feasible and when no real harm will come to the child due to those consequences. According to the Cornell University Cooperative Extension, children of authoritative parents often display social competence, independence and a high sense of responsibility as they grow into young adults.
Authoritarian parents are strict, unbending and inflexible. They may attempt to control every aspect of their child's life, and do not allow the child to make choices. Authoritarian parents expect obedience without questioning. They may use harsh discipline methods with their children, and may be insensitive to their children's emotional needs. They often do not explain the reasons behind the rules that they set, and impose their own consequences whenever a rule is broken. Adult children of authoritarian parents may be unable to act without specific direction, and may have trouble expressing themselves.
Permissive parents are indulgent, not wanting to impose their will on their child's developing personality. They often set no rules and have no consequences. They might cause their child to avoid even natural or logical consequences in order to save him from perceived harm, unhappiness or hurt feelings. Permissive parents are usually kind and loving, but may become frustrated when a child's behavior is defiant or unacceptable. Despite this frustration, permissive parents often do not step in to cause a change in the child's actions as long as he will not be physically harmed. Permissive parenting may cause teen and young adult children to remain egocentric or lack self-control, according to the Cornell University Cooperative Extension.