How you raise your kid matters in the long run. Studies have found remarkable consistencies in the behavior and demeanor of a child and the parenting style they were raised in, even if children may manifest similar emotions and thought patterns in different ways depending on their environments.
That means that parents have to think about the long-term effects of their parenting styles on their kids. After all, even well-intentioned parents can unintentionally begin crossing the line from overly strict or overly lax to harmful or neglectful parenting. And childhood abuse and neglect can cause lifelong damage.
Here are how the four most common parenting methods can affect your children and the potential consequences of each.
Authoritarian styles shut kids down
Authoritarian parenting - strict rules, harsh punishments, little to no negotiation and raised expectations - can often seem, to the parent, to be a reasonable high standards, high rewards attitude that trains their kids to reach the best possible outcome. The science says that’s not quite what happens to kids subjected to this style of parenting.
Instead, studies find children of authoritarian parents to be more misbehaved, more likely to abuse substances, less socially adept and more likely to participate in a cycle of bullying and other maladaptive behaviors. Studies across nations have found remarkably consistent results among the children of authoritative parents - they’re socially disconnected, simultaneously bullied and bullying others. They’re even more likely to develop mental health issues in the future.
Authoritative styles offer a fair balance
Compared to authoritarian parents, authoritative parents seem to strike a better balance between fair and strict. Authoritative parents are characterized as capable of setting limits and enforcing standards, but also providing nurturing support and empathy to their children.
Authoritative parents will enforce rules, but emphasize positive thoughts, positive behaviors and positive relationships. Rather than a focus on punishment, demeaning and criticizing, authoritative parents will generally focus on focusing on rewards, complimenting and offering advice. Kids do best in this setting - firm and fair rules that are understandable, and well-loved, authoritative parents provide them with both security and support.
Permissive styles can be too unregulated
Although some parents are loathe to limit their kids and want to let them explore the world on their own terms, the reality is too few rules can be harmful as well. That’s the problem children of permissive parents may run into. This can lead to many legal complications if the child is is involved with bullying or truancy. In such cases, an injury lawyer could help. Permissive parents tend to have trouble enforcing their own rules, leading children to learn that rules are flexible or nonexistent. A permissive parent may want to be a friend more than a parent to their child.
The problem with such styles is that it fails to enforce self-control and discipline. Both of those are necessary and difficult traits for a child to learn - it’s up to parents to instill that sense of self-control in their children. Children of permissive parents may struggle in school and in their careers.
Uninvolved styles offer no support
The worst thing you can do for your child is completely fail to involve yourself in their life, but the reality is thousands of children every year live in such a home. Neglectful parents can be unintentionally or intentionally abusive. Their children are more likely to report behavioral and emotional issues, are more likely to have difficulty intermingling with their peers and more likely to struggle with basic tasks as adults. Children with parents that take a hands-off approach report much lower emotional connection to their parents as well. Children need supervision. A total absence can only hurt them, but a lack of nurturing and kindness will also emotionally damage them. A firm but gentle hand is best for raising kids. Finding that balance can be difficult but is necessary.