Four Basic Parenting Styles

There are two dimensions to parenting which make up the four basic parenting styles: give and take, to put it simply.

‘Give’ entails being supportive of the child and responsive to her needs, desires and wishes.

‘Take’ entails being demanding of discipline from the child, to get her to follow instructions, regimens and boundaries set by the parent.


When you give more and take more too, it is called an authoritative style of parenting and is probably the most effective of the four basic parenting styles. When you take more you establish the fact that the child needs you and you call the shots. But at the same time, you ‘give’ too. Thereby, the needs of self-expression and self-confidence is fostered. This is a win-win way where both the child and the parent have their way. The mutual respect which grows thereby stands the child in good stead in the future.


This style results when the parent is only interested to ‘take’ and not to give at all. This is a draconian method where the judgments and values of the parent are thrust upon the child without recourse to any protest or demur. At the best this basic style of parenting breeds discipline in the wards and at its worst it simply exterminates any creativity or imagination in the child who has to always carry the heavy burden of a martinet’s whims.


There is only ‘give’ in this style and no take. In a complete reversal from the previous Authoritarian style, the child is given a complete free rein. Unrestricted, he goes his own way but has a supportive parent who indulges the child. At the worst, it leads to a bohemian lifestyle without discipline and the child becomes lazy and incapable to handle any kind of stress effectively. At its best, it could lead to a fertile imagination in the kid and could engender artistic sensibilities or a very creative spirit in the kid. Many an artiste or inventor had had such an unfettered childhood. But as a policy, this style of parenting is very hard to subscribe to as more often than not it could spoil the child incorrigibly.


He neither gives nor takes, completely apathetic to his responsibility as a parent.


one can state that although the Authoritative Style of Parenting seems to be the most desirable style as it seeks to balance the two aspects of empathising with the child as well as wields the stick when discipline is to be enforced, there are two variants of the other two styles worth mentioning here.

The Authoritarian Style, in one avatar, can be somewhat less draconian and intrusive, at the same time ensuring the child maintains a strictly regimented path. Here the parent child relationship is seen to be less fearful or acrimonious but very disciplined nevertheless.

On the other end of the fulcrum, in the Permissive Parenting Style, which is usually confined to all ‘give’ and no ‘take’, the giving is sometimes seen to be made contingent upon a certain value system and the decision in the child’s favour is sought to be calibrated by detailed discussions within the family leading to a Democratic Parenting Style which is found to be considerably better than the Permissive style of Parenting.

I hope the above discussion helps you to recognize your own parenting style and to make your parenting more successful. For more excellent resources on the net on parenting, I have compiled a few here.

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