For most of us, parents and guardians have been our companions since we were born. Throughout our developmental years, they are role models who represent the behaviour and morality that society expects of us. Therefore, their parenting style – the way they communicate with us, support us and educate us – influences how we perceive the world and build relationships with others. In general, there are four types of parenting styles, namely authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved and authoritative. Different parenting styles substantially affect the personal development of children and teenagers in various ways.
Authoritarian parents typically require their children’s absolute obedience under their rules and seldom demonstrate support for their children’s point of view. This type of parent may also overlook the importance of communication as they may believe that their rules and punishments are the best for their children’s development, and that they do not need to explain themselves to their children. Teenagers with authoritarian parents are more at risk to suffer from low self-esteem (Queiroz et al., 2020) as a result of infrequently having their opinions acknowledged. They may also be easily stressed out by changes and transitions in life as they often second guess their decisions, fearing that their decisions are wrong. In order to dodge punishments, teenagers raised by authoritarian parents may resort to lying (Talwar & Lee, 2011), which doesn’t help in developing their independence.
Permissive parents believe that their children will thrive when there is minimal parental intervention. They set ground rules, but avoid enforcing the rules unless serious issues are observed. Unlike authoritarian parents, they offer support to their children like a friend, yet they seldom discourage their children from impulsive, unhealthy behaviour. Teenagers reared by permissive parents may be more confident and creative as they are allowed to explore their own lives independently. However, these teenagers may suffer from behavioural issues such as substance abuse (Berge et al., 2016) as boundaries may not be enforced properly by their parents. Additionally, they may be more prone to engage in illegal or inappropriate activities because they may disregard authority and rules (Hoeve et al., 2009).
Uninvolved parents rarely respond to their children’s emotional needs and have limited communication with their children. Teenagers with uninvolved parents are likely to struggle with developing and maintaining relationships, given that their emotional needs are not met by their parents and they might not understand how to reciprocate others’ affection. At the same time, they may be susceptible to engaging in risky, dangerous behaviour because they may lack a proper role model for learning about self-regulation and boundaries. A diminished presence of parents or guardians may cause their development to be more dependent on other aspects of their lives (such as friends, schooling, etc), hence it is the most unpredictable, unreliable amongst the four parenting styles.
Authoritative parents strike a balance between being following through with their rules and being compassionate to their children. They enforce their boundaries and rules with clear rationale, which allows children to comprehend their meaning and importance. They are keen to interact and communicate with their children, acting as supportive friends and wise advisors. Teenagers raised with authoritative parents can learn from their healthy parent-child relationship and form stable relationships with others. They are more likely to be able to embrace changes and manage stress effectively as their parents have been providing insightful advice and continuous support to them. Moreover, they may have a healthier self-esteem as their opinions are more often taken into consideration by their parents, enabling them to discover diverse perspectives whilst exploring their uniqueness.
Not all parents stick to one parenting style, but in fact many parents adopt a mixture of parenting styles. The parents who more readily or more often adopt an authoritative parenting style, allowing for more flexibility in parenting and tend to raise children who are well adjusted and are better able to manage challenges.
Parents are a child’s first glimpse into the world, even though children further shape their perspectives by interacting with other stakeholders such as neighbours, family members and schoolmates. Teenagers raised with all types of parenting styles can flourish if they discover the right path in their lives, yet it is clear that parenting styles do affect teenagers’ initial perception of the world and impact how they develop their personalities. Effective parenting that facilitates growth involves enforcing boundaries and offering emotional support at the same time.
Berge, J., Sundell, K., Öjehagen, A., & Håkansson, A. (2016). Role of Parenting Styles in Adolescent Substance Use: Results From a Swedish Longitudinal Cohort Study. BMJ Open, 6. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2015-008979
Hoeve, M., Dubas, J. S., Eichelsheim, V. I., van der Laan, P. H., Smeenk, W., & Gerris, J. R. (2009). The Relationship Between Parenting and Delinquency: a Meta-Analysis. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37(6), 749–775. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10802-009-9310-8
Talwar, V., & Lee, K. (2011). A Punitive Environment Fosters Children’s Dishonesty: a Natural Experiment. Child Development, 82(6), 1751–1758. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.2011.01663.x
Queiroz, P., Garcia, O. F., Garcia, F., Zacares, J. J., & Camino, C. (2020). Self and Nature: Parental Socialization, Self-Esteem, and Environmental Values in Spanish Adolescents. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(10), 3732. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103732