What is good parenting?

What is good parenting?

Good parenting is a broad concept. There are multiple definitions and perspectives as to what constitutes “good parenting”. This article shares what research has found on this topic and discusses some of the different parenting styles. 

good parenting

There is no one right approach to parenting. Understanding the basics of different styles can be helpful in building up your own approach to raising mentally strong, well-rounded and successful kids. 

What are parenting styles?

Parenting styles are influenced by a multitude of factors such as the caregiver’s personality or the culture which they live in. For example, some cultures find it especially important for children to be obedient and respectful to their elders. In other ones, children are encouraged to be more individualistic and independent, and speak up for themselves. 

Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind focused on four particular parenting styles:

  • Authoritarian
  • Authoritative
  • Permissive
  • Neglectful/ Uninvolved

These styles are not black-and-white categories, meaning to say that it’s perfectly possible to switch between styles depending on the situation or how a parent feels.

What does each parenting style look like?

How parents deal with their child’s behavior can vary. Here’s how to differentiate them:

1) Authoritarian style

 If you’ve ever told your children to do something “because I’m the parent,” that’s authoritarian. This style lacks flexibility and is known for its strict rules and the parent dictates here how things should go. Such parents believe punishment works best. The children of authoritarian parents might come to view their parents as bullies, and start bullying other peers as well. Some other authoritarian perspectives:

  • How the child feels is secondary, as discipline is in their best interest
  • Obedient children should be the norm

2) Authoritative style

Authoritative parents see themselves more as a guide and their main goal is to develop a positive relationship with their child. They still provide boundaries, but they want to reduce conflict and try not to be too antagonizing. Rules still apply and will also be used, but these are often discussed together with their kid to help them understand why this is needed. Some authoritative perspectives:

  • Children do have a say and give input, but not the final decision.
  • Compliments and rewards are used to reinforce positive behavior.

2) Permissive style

Permissive parents will do anything to put their child’s wants and needs first by trying to be their friend and their mascot. There is a lot of leniency and rules kind of exist, but are not really enforced when they are broken. Consequences are there, but also quite easily undone. Other permissive parent perspectives:

  • A child’s feelings are the most important thing.
  • Bad choices or behaviours are not discouraged by parents.

4) Neglectful style

There are also parents that hardly interfere with their children’s lives as they do not focus on them. Neglectful parents do not really care what they do. Children are just left to fend for themselves. Other neglectful/uninvolved perspectives:

  • It doesn’t really matter what the child does.
  • It is not necessary to spend time with the child.

Which style should one adopt?

It does not always happen that parents rigidly only practice one of these styles. There often is a dominant one with a mix of the others, depending on the situation. Most psychologists consider authoritative style to be the sweet spot between authoritarian and permissive parenting, as positivity is the recurring theme. Research shows children growing up with this style are on average happier and more successful than others.

Authoritarian style can lead to children internalising anger and fear, or lashing out at other children through bullying. Children growing up with mostly permissive caregivers have troubles obeying rules or authority in the future. Aside from this, neglectful approach results more times than not in depression, anxiety or behavior problems as the basic needs of children are not met. That said, even if you identify with other styles more, there are ways you can explore to become a more authoritative parent [1].

All in all, it is necessary for everyone to remember that raising a child is a tough job. Every parent has their authoritarian, neglectful or permissive moments. Imagine coming home after a long and stressful day, while dealing with financial problems and your child is throwing a tantrum. It might be difficult in such situations to stay calm and do the right things. Being aware and reflecting on these four styles can help with understanding yourself and your children better.


[1] Bi, X., Yang, Y., Li, H., Wang, M., Zhang, W., & Deater-Deckard, K. (2018). Parenting styles and parent–adolescent relationships: The mediating roles of behavioral autonomy and parental authority. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, Article 2187. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02187



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