The 4 Styles of Parenting And What Parenting Books To Read

The 4 Styles of Parenting And What Parenting Books To Read

Being a parent is not an easy task which is why many unfortunately fail to reach their best potential when it comes to raising their young ones mainly because of a lack of great source material on the matter.

After all, one’s parenting style can actually affect everything about their child, from their weight to their self-esteem later on in life.

That being said, being a good parent, regardless of the methods used, means being supportive and helping your child grow and develop healthily.

It is important to understand the level of responsibility long before actually deciding to bring a new life into the world as your parenting is bound to affect them for the rest of their lives whether it’s positively or negatively.

First of all, you should know that experts have been able to narrow things down to 4 main parenting styles:

–       Authoritarian,

–       Authoritative,

–       Permissive,

–       Uninvolved.

Naturally, each of these styles takes quite a different approach to the process of raising kids and each of them features a number of unique characteristics.

Credit: Unsplash/Sofatutor
Credit: Unsplash/Sofatutor

Authoritarian Parents

If you are someone who thinks children should not be heard but just seen, that their feelings are not important enough to be considered, or that your relationship with your child is a “my way or the highway” one, you might just fit into this category.

This type of parents are convinced their offspring need to follow the rules with no exception and that they are not allowed to make mistakes, in which case they would be swiftly punished or berated as a teaching method.

They are infamous for the “Because I said so” phrase, which is used whenever the child is curious to know the reasons behind a certain rule they’d made up.

The main focus of this parenting style is getting the young ones to obey and taking any negotiations about anything off the table.

Such parents refuse to let their kids get involved in problem-solving challenges as well and instead, they make sure they make the rules and enforce the punishments with little to no regard for the kid’s feelings or thoughts.

They try to make their children feel guilty whenever they make mistakes and fail to teach them how to make better choices in the future, instead choosing to punish them with no explanation.

While people who grow up with this kind of parenting tend to follow the rules most of the time, their obedience comes at a really high price.

This is because they are at a really high risk of developing self-esteem problems due to the fact that their thoughts and feelings were never seen as valuable.

Another risk is that they grow up to become hostile to others or even aggressive!

After all, they spend their formative years bottling up all their anger and resentment they feel towards their parents for making them feel insignificant and unheard.

Furthermore, they might grow up to be really good liars and manipulators, a trait developed during childhood in order to avoid punishment.

Credit: Unsplash/Sofatutor
Credit: Unsplash/Sofatutor

Authoritative Parents

You are an authoritative parent if you put effort into creating and maintaining a positive relationship with your offspring, create rules for them but also explain the reasons behind them and enforce consequences for failing to comply with those rules.

However, as opposed to the first style of parenting, authoritative parenting also involves taking the child’s thoughts and opinions into account.

Such parents make sure to validate their young ones’ feelings while, at the same time, making it as clear as possible that in the end, the adults are still in charge no matter what.

They spend a lot of time and energy making sure that any behavioral issues are prevented rather than having to be fixed later on.

They use positive discipline strategies in order to reinforce positive behavior, praise and certain reward systems being put in place to encourage them to be good.

Experts have concluded that children raised by authoritative parents most likely grow up to be responsible and are generally comfortable and confident expressing their thoughts and feelings openly.

They also tend to end up happy and successful adults and are likely to be good at making good decisions in life while evaluating the risks all on their own.

Credit: Unsplash/Jimmy Dean
Credit: Unsplash/Jimmy Dean

Permissive Parents

The permissive style of parenting involves the setting of rules for the child but without actually enforcing them too often.

There are rarely any consequences for breaking the rules and this type of parent is convinced their child is able to learn the best without a lot of direct interference from them.

In other words, these parents are lenient and only step in to parent their child if the young ones get in serious trouble.

They are really forgiving and think “kids will be kids.”

When they do intend to give out punishment, they may be swayed if the kid cries or begs or promises to be good in the future, shortening the time-out period or deciding not to punish them at all in the end as a result.

This is because they adopt more of a friend role than a parent one and encourage their offspring to openly talk about everything with them, including their problems.

While that is usually a great approach, they also don’t put a lot of effort into discouraging their bad behavior or poor choices.

Unfortunately, this sometimes leads to their kids struggling academically.

Furthermore, since they have no appreciation for rules or authority figures, they tend to exhibit more behavioral problems.

Oftentimes, they can feel a lot of sadness and have low self-esteem as adults.

Another result of permissive parenting is a higher risk of developing health problems such as obesity, as permissive parents may also struggle to limit their children’s junk food consumption.

Similarly, they have a high risk of developing cavities as their parents are not the best at enforcing good habits, such as brushing their teeth, during their formative years.

Credit: Unsplash/Nienke Burgers
Credit: Unsplash/Nienke Burgers

Uninvolved Parents

Uninvolved parenting features parents who do not ask their children about homework or their school grades.

They also rarely know their child’s location or who they are hanging out with.

Finally, they just don’t spend much time with their young ones in the first place!

Basically, these parents rarely have any knowledge of what their kids are doing and there are very few rules in place, if any!

Furthermore, their children don’t generally get much nurturing, guidance or even attention from them.

They simply expect their kids to be able to raise themselves and do not put much effort into even meeting their offspring’s basic needs.

While it is not always intentional, these parents tend to be neglectful.

For instance, it makes sense that a parent who struggles with substance abuse, a serious illness or mental health problems is not always able to focus on their children’s emotional or even physical needs consistently.

In other situations, they might even just lack enough knowledge about child development or are overwhelmed by other parts of their lives such as work or managing a large household.

People who grow up this way, unfortunately tend to develop self-esteem issues.

They also might perform poorly in school and oftentimes exhibit behavioral problems and live unhappy lives.

Credit: Unsplash/Sebastian Leon Prado
Credit: Unsplash/Sebastian Leon Prado

So which is the best parenting style for you?

As you might have figured out by now, research seems to suggest that authoritative parenting is the way to go since it results in socially competent, independent and happy adults.

Of course, that is not to say that they are immune to developing mental health issues, substance abuse, having relationship problems or experiencing low self-esteem but studies have shown that such traits are mostly found in children of permissive, authoritarian and uninvolved parents.

But while these four styles of parenting seem so well defined and categorized, in reality, no single one fits all and you don’t need to follow any one of them from A to Z.

There are plenty of situations where you may need to moderately employ a mix of different approaches and the most successful parents know how to change their style of parenting based on the situation at hand.

For instance, when their child is ill, a usually authoritative parent may become more permissive by allowing them to eat their favorite snack in bed, therefore letting go of some control for the young one’s sake.

On the other hand, a permissive parent can become a bit stricter if their kid’s safety is at stake, such as when crossing a busy street, making it very clear that whether they like it or not, the child is to hold their hand at that time.

As mentioned before, parenting is no walk in the park and to employ your best judgment in mixing and matching parenting styles successfully you may need some more resources to teach you the way!

That being said, here are some great parenting books that have a lot of useful things to teach any parent out there, in no particular order!

The Argument Hangover: Empowering Couples to Fight Smarter & Overcome Communication Pitfalls

If you and your partner have trouble getting on the same page when it comes to your parenting this is the book for you!

Its relationship expert authors are bound to help you make the most out of your relationship as adults so that you can also parent well together!

It is a relatable book from which you will learn how to make the most out of each other without trying to change each other in any way!

Communication and feeling understood are definitely key elements of such a relationship.

There are even step-by-step tools and exercises that you can apply immediately, helping both of you to navigate all the challenges modern couples today face.

Positive Discipline

The title of the book refers to a positive parenting principle based on mutual respect and positive parental guidance.

Instead of punishing mistakes, it focuses on turning those into learning opportunities.

The author teaches parents but also teachers to be firm as well as kind at the same time so that kids, whether they’re toddlers, children or teenagers, can learn cooperation and self-discipline without feeling any shame or losing their sense of dignity.

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

If you fear that your young one is out of control, mostly reacting to problems by screaming, crying, swearing or even hitting, this book is for you.

It is a thoughtful, compassionate and practical book that can really teach you how to properly diffuse such destructive behaviors when they happen and also prevent them from reemerging later on.

The Whole Brained Child

The Whole Brained Child is so good you will regret not finding it sooner!

This is because it backs its ideas with neuroscience, letting you know which parts of the brain get activated when your child is angry or throwing a tantrum for instance and teaching you how to respond.

Live Love Now

Bestselling author Rachel Macy Stafford talks about the biggest challenges children face nowadays and teaches their parents how to properly engage them with empathy, honesty and understanding as to really connect with them on a deeper level.

In reality your child does not need their parents to be like “taskmasters.”

Instead, they wish adults were “truth-tellers.”

Similarly, they need their parents to be guides and encouragers rather than enforcers.

At the end of the book, you will be able to guide your young one towards becoming more compassionate, resilient and capable!

The Gift of Failure

The Gift of Failure talks about the critical school years when parents have to step back a little and let their children experience all kinds of problems and frustrations that come with the territory only to then hopefully learn from them and grow up to be resilient, self-reliant and successful.

Studies show that in the modern world, many adults are not actually prepared to take adulthood on, relying on their parents to still cook, clean, do laundry and schedule appointments for them.

Thankfully, this book is here to teach you how to help your young one navigate the world confidently all on their own.

In fact, the author provides parents with a blueprint filled with advice that includes ways to handle report cards, homework, sports and social dynamics, among other things in your offspring’s life.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, she also teaches parents how to step back and healthily embrace their kids’ failures.

Even though that may seem hard at first, at the end of the book, you will finally understand why that is so important.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

This is not exactly a parenting book but that’s not the point! Like everything else in life, parenting is all about one’s mindset so it turns out it’s really important to figure yourself and everything else out in order to be a good parent to your child.

So if your goal is to become a really successful parent and raise successful children then this book, while not specifically focused on that, is exactly what you need and more.

The author is able to show how success, regardless of what kind, can be significantly influenced by the way we perceive our skills and strengths.

That being said, people who are convinced abilities are fixed are actually much less likely to succeed and flourish than those who realize abilities can be developed.

It is a must-read book very useful to parents who wish to put this idea into practice.

All Joy and No Fun

Usually, parenting books are about parenting kids but this one focuses more on the parents rather than their young ones.

The author, Jennifer Senior, who is also a New York magazine writer, talks about all the ways in which kids can reshape their parents’ lives including their jobs, their habits, hobbies, marriage, friendships and even their own internal sense of self!

That being said, All Joy and No Fun is all about “experiencing self” vs. “remembering self” something that can be really freeing for many parents out there.

It can really help free yourself from that continuous parenting guilt of having to sacrifice yourself and your time for your offspring.

“Mothering and fathering aren’t just things we do. Being a mother or being a father is who we are,” Senior wonderfully writes in the end.

How to Do It Now Because It’s Not Going Away

Leslie Josel has really developed a comprehensive guide for all parents who struggle with helping their children push through procrastination and roadblocks.

There is no doubt that procrastination is really difficult for everyone, young adults in particular!

Starting something and getting motivated can be really difficult as there are many distractions everywhere in addition to the fear of failing or the outcome not being perfect.

Humans are generally wired to postpone things but with the proper tools provided to us, we can put an end to this destructive habit.

All in all, this book is a great guide that can help teenagers get their tasks done.

It is not only straightforward and simple but it is also quite humorous as well so you are bound to really enjoy reading in addition to having a lot to learn.

The tips are all about staying on top of homework, developing a sense of time, managing digital distractions, creating easy-to-follow routines, and getting unstuck to just name a few.

Middle School Makeover

The Middle School Makeover is another great guide for parents who want to help their tweens navigate the social life of their school.

More precisely, the author helps parents understand all the issues and social dilemmas their middle school aged kids face daily.

A large range of topics is covered including the young ones’ brains and how their neurological development affects decision making.

Identity questions are also discussed while addressing dating, social media and peer exclusion as well.

The book is based on rather new research but also on the author’s personal experience working with middle school children and their parents.

Proper, practical advice on how to guide them in this developmental stage is provided in an attempt to successfully help them build their confidence.

Transforming the Difficult Child: A Heart Nurtured Approach

Transforming the Difficult Child is great for people who think their children are intense, challenging or difficult.

This is because it provides parents with great strategies on how to help them channel their energy in inspiring ways without forgetting to be compassionate and understanding no matter what.

By reading this book, you will learn how to shift negative behavior, improve your relationship with your young one and help them thrive.

The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children

This book by Dr. Tsabary is meant to teach parents how to become more psychologically and emotionally aware themselves first and foremost!

It pushes parents to look inward first and by doing this, helps them understand why it is needed to be aware of their own past and childhood in order to instill a positive wholeness to their offspring.

It preaches quite a holistic approach to parenting instead of a quick fix, leading to parents and children engaging in a mutually loving relationship instead of one based on hierarchy.

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk

This is a must-read for any parent who often finds themselves in a constant power struggle with their children.

It is not only easy to read but also full of practical steps you can take in order to solve conflicts and get your young ones to be more cooperative.

There are even exact scripts and real-life examples teaching you how to properly talk to your kid as to diffuse their anger, reconnecting with their sweet side in the process.

The Addiction Inoculation: Raising Healthy Kids In a Culture of Dependence

Openly talking with your child about substance abuse and also helping them avoid it is equally as important but it can be a difficult topic to approach with a young one sometimes.

The author of this book uses comprehensive research to illustrate quite a few effective strategies that can help a lot with that.

Her recommendations are bound to help give you a lot of insight so that you’ll never have to worry about your child resorting to substance abuse again!

Parenting Apart: How Separated and Divorced Parents Can Raise Happy and Secure Kids

If you are someone who is divorced or separated from your co-parent, this is a great book to read!

In it, the author approaches all of the biggest problems of separated parents, teaching you how to team up when it comes to parenting your children regardless of your past together.

Parenting from the Inside Out

This book uses neuroscience research as well as attachment researches in order to assist parents with making sense of their own life stories before effectively dealing with all the daily struggles.

It features strategies to all kinds of everyday challenges and will show you just how “brain integration” can lead to your child growing up well and thriving as an adult.

Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

The author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, Dr. Laura Markham, is actually one of the most popular parenting experts you can find so this book is a really great choice for any parent out there.

It is able to help parents really understand how important it is to have a strong connection with their toddler aged kids by focusing not on punishment but on positive problem solving.

She also mentions how a parent’s mental state is able to influence their kids as well!

For instance, shouting at your child will most likely lead to them shouting right back.

But if you want your child to be kind, calm and respectful, you need to achieve that yourself first!

The book features a number of common parenting situations and provides parents with a better understanding of children’s behavior in order to build a strong and long lasting positive relationship with them.

The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy

If your bedtime routine is an issue, this is the perfect book for you!

The Sleep Lady is here to help by giving you a step-by-step guide to solving even the toughest bedtime struggles whether you’re raising an infant or a bigger child.

After reading it, both you and your child will be able to get all the sleep you need without all those frustrations that usually precede a sleeping session.

No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls

In the age we live in it can be hard for daughters to be able to successfully separate themselves from social views and expectations on beauty and femininity.

Social media can really lead to young girls growing up feeling a lot of insecurity due to not meeting unrealistic expectations so easily displayed and faked online.

Parents can sometimes feel powerless to this outside influence on their children and oftentimes, they make it even harder on them.

However, this book is here to provide parents with the proper steps to empower their daughters and teach them how to become confident and build each other up.

Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle While Other Kids Shine

Thrivers: The Surprising Reasons Why Some Kids Struggle While Other Kids Shine discusses the reasons why some children can be more successful than others.

While young kids today are better achievers than any other generation before them, they are not exactly happier because of it.

However, those that do thrive have a couple of character traits in common which is great to know because these traits can be taught!

The author of the book makes sure to dive into all of these important characteristics, teaching parents how to help their children persevere.

Your Turn: How to Be an Adult

While legally speaking, kids become adults at the age of 18, becoming a proper adult can actually take time and that is Okay!

Not to mention that the things defining an “adult” continue to change constantly.

The author of this last book on our list has worked with undergraduate students for a number of years so she knows a lot about that age where young adults are considered old enough to make their own decisions although they may not exactly be entirely ready for it.

As far as she is concerned, becoming a grown-up is a long and hard process but it’s ultimately rewarding and now, this book is here to guide them every step of the way, making it a little easier.


Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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