Four Types of Parent
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Four Types of Parent

In general, four types of parent can be discerned. All four types are discussed here, with mention of the effects on their children.

Style of Parenting

The development of a child’s attachment style depends greatly on the quality of the interactions between the child and its parents (see Factors Promoting Safe Attachment in Children). Based on extensive observation and interviews, four main types of parent can be discerned:

  • Authoritarian parents,
  • Permissive parents,
  • Authoritative parents, and
  • Dismissive-neglecting parents.

Authoritarian Parents

Authoritarian parents show little acceptance, involvement and offer their children almost no opportunity to develop autonomy. They demand strict obedience and set stern rules without explanation. The basic values are hard work and respect for all forms of authority, which is why they cannot tolerate sloppy children or dissenting opinions. If the child talks back, he or she will be humiliated and, in the worst case, physically punished.

Children of authoritarian parents tend to be moody, insecure and withdrawn. When not given what they want they often resort to violence, especially the boys.

Permissive Parents

Permissive parents are found at the other end of the spectrum. They accept and confirm all their children’s opinions and are not very involved in their upbringing. No control is shown towards their children, of whom is not asked to take into account social norms. The parents think they are given their children great autonomy, but in fact the children are forced to make decisions too early. In all cases, the parents avoid punishment.

Children of permissive parents are often impulsive, disobedient and rebellious. They are overly demanding and dependent of adults. In many cases they show very little persistence.

Authoritative Parents

Authoritative parents show high acceptance and involvement, but also believe control is necessary. They are looking for a balance between discipline and autonomy and explain to their children why certain decisions are being made. In these families, conflicts are argued about. The goal of the parents is to help their children reach independence while still adhering to the social norms. As their children age, they will gradually grant them more autonomy.

Children of authoritative parents tend to be independent, self-conscious, kind and curious.

Dismissive-negelecting Parents

Dismissive-neglecting parents combine a low acceptance and involvement with a general lack of interest in their children. They make little demands, but also spend little time with their children.

The children of dismissive-neglecting parents are often aggressive and dismissive of other people’s norms. They are generally disobedient and show a higher potential to develop delinquency.

What Works Best?

Authoritative parents generally have the best adapted children. The reason for this can be found in three core dimensions of their upbringing:

  • Acceptance of the child,
  • Behavioral control, and
  • Allowing psychological autonomy.


  • DeHart, T.; Pelham, B.W. & Tennen, H. (2006). What lies beneath: Parenting style and implicit self-esteem. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. 42(1), pp. 1 – 17.
  • Fletcher, A.C.; Walls, J.K.; Cook, E.C.; Madison, K.J. & Bridges, T.H. (2008). Parenting Style as a Moderator of Associations Between Maternal Disciplinary Strategies and Child Well-Being. Journal of Family Issues. 29(12), pp. 1724 – 1744.
  • Paulussen-Hoogeboom, M.C.; Stams, G.J.J.M.; Hermanns, J.M.A.; Peetsma, T.T.D. & van den Wittenboer, G.L.H. (2008). Parenting Style as a Mediator between Children’s Negative Emotionality and Problematic Behavior in Early Childhood. Journal of Genetic Psychology. 169(3), pp. 209 – 226.

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Comments (1)

Excellent article.very informative.thanks...voted up