Parenting is a whirlwind even months before the baby arrives. Sometimes in the midst of choosing nursery decor, car seats, and a pediatrician, thinking purposefully about parenting goals can get overlooked.

There are 4 main parenting styles.

Permissive Parent

These parents typically focus on keeping their child happy. They give in easily to their child’s demands and allow them to make most decisions for themselves. Expectations and guidelines are not enforced consistently. These parents take on more of a friendship role. These children may be prone to anxiety and struggle with respect for authority.

Authoritarian Parent

This style is based on complete parental control with little regard for a child’s feelings or input. Parents make the rules and there are rare exceptions. Punishments are often used to make the child feel guilty or sorry instead of using discipline to teach. Children are not encouraged to problem solve but are told what to do. These children are potentially at high risk for self-esteem problems.

Uninvolved/Neglectful Parent

Children of uninvolved parents are often expected to raise themselves. These parents typically set few to no expectations and often struggle to meet their child’s basic needs. This is not necessarily intentional. The parent may lack the skills and knowledge to take care of a child or struggle with feeling overwhelmed with life in general. These children receive little nurturing or guidance, and are often identified as having low self-esteem, behavior problems, and may perform poorly in school.

Authoritative Parent

Authoritative parents provide clear rules and expectations for their children. They provide positive feedback, reinforce good behavior, and allow natural consequences that match poor choices. Children are listened to and asked their opinions, but parents are the clear head of the family and make final decisions. Children are encouraged to think for themselves and solve their problems while parents offer support. These children tend to be self-disciplined and think for themselves.

These are the 4 main parenting styles. Parenting is hard no matter the dynamics. While no one category is going to define every parent, it is important to consider parenting goals and plan how best to meet them.