Skip to main content

Different Styles of Parenting

By Kerri Kreh Reda, M.P.H.

You may have heard that there are different styles of parenting. Although there is a time and place for each of them, there is one style that research shows to have better outcomes for children. On one end of the continuum is the Authoritarian style. This style of parenting can be considered “brick wall” parenting. It is known for being very demanding and strict, using punishment, and generally not allowing choice or freedom. Authoritarian parents value obedience, discourage independence, and do not like their authority to be questioned. They also do little nurturing. Children who are raised with this style of parenting do not learn self-regulation or self-discipline, but rather learn they can do as they wish as long as they do not get caught. Brick wall parenting is appropriate when health, safety, and morality issues arise. In these circumstances there should not be any negotiating.

On the other end of the continuum is the Permissive style. This style of parenting can be considered “jellyfish” parenting. It is known for being indulgent. Permissive parents give a lot of freedom without limits. They make few demands, have few if any consequences, do not provide structure, and avoid asserting authority. Permissive parents are very good at nurturing, but do not discipline well. Children raised with this style of parenting often feel insecure and confused as they need guidance. Jellyfish parenting is appropriate under special circumstances such as holidays, birthday celebrations, or when the child is sick or on vacation, as during these times you can relax the rules.

In the middle is the Authoritative style. Research shows that this style of parenting has the best outcomes for children. It can be considered “backbone” parenting. Authoritative parents provide structure with flexibility, much like our spine. Authoritative parents maintain a good balance between warmth and strictness. They have high expectation of their children. They firmly and consistently enforce rules, while also encouraging independence. Backbone parents use choices, consequences, and positive communication and listening to provide guidance and to solve problems. Children who are raised with this style learn self-regulation and tend to do better in school, have better behavior, and use drugs and alcohol less. This style of parenting is where we want to be most of the time.

For more information on parenting styles, click on the link below:

Kerri Kreh Reda, M.P.H., is a Human Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County’s Family Health and Wellness Program. She can be reached at 631-727-7850 ext. 330 or at


Comments are closed.