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The 4 Parenting Styles: Which is Best?

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Each parent has their own unique parenting style. Often, the way we parent is the way we ourselves were parented. We may make tweaks were and there and do things a little bit differently, but our foundation usually rests with how we were raised.

Raising teenagers can be hard. Raising teenagers with externalizing behaviors can seem daunting. Teens with externalizing behaviors are those who 'act out'. These teens can be argumentative, impulsive, stubborn, get into fights, and act as if the rules don't apply to them.

Teens that fit this description are teens who may struggle with ADHD, ADD, oppositional defiant disorder, bi-polar disorder, or other difficulties.

On the other end of the spectrum are teens with internalizing struggles. Teens with these struggles tent to 'act in'.

Teens who 'act in' have developed a negative core belief about themselves. The negative core belief leads to negative automatic thoughts. The negative automatic thoughts lead to negative emotions and behaviors. These teens may withdraw, isolate, avoid certain people or places, self-harm, have crying spells, etc.

Teens with internalizing behaviors often struggle with teen depression, anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, or other difficulties.

For parents, it can be challenging in obvious ways in parenting a teen with externalizing behaviors. The challenge for parents of teens with internalizing behaviors is different but no less complex.

Who Developed the 4 Parenting Styles?

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In the 1960's, there was a Developmental Psychologist named Diana Baumrind. Ms. Baumrind worked with preschoolers and she noticed the different behaviors they displayed.

In her research, she found that the types of behaviors displayed were highly correlated to specific kinds of parenting. She identified 3 types of parenting styles based on her research.

Later, in the 1980's, Maccoby and Martin went on to expand on the 3rd parenting style breaking it out into two distinct styles. Today we have the 4 parenting styles that generally describe parenting styles in the United States.

In each style, or category, there are elements that we call can relate with. In fact, we may use elements from each at times when we parent.

In looking at the parenting styles, it's important to view them in light of your philosophy in parenting. It's also important to view them in light of your parenting behavior.

Sometimes, we may believe in parenting one way, but due to stressors in life, we may find ourselves parenting in action another way.

4 Parenting Styles

The 4 types of parenting styles are as follows:

  • Authoritative

  • Authoritarian (or Disciplinarian)

  • Permissive (or Indulgent)

  • Neglectful (or Uninvolved)

The American Psychological Association (APA) describes the 4 parenting styles. Below we will describe each parenting style and the effects it has on children.


In this style, parents are nurturing. Parents have been responsive to their children's needs throughout their developmental stages. They provide guidelines and rules and work to help their teens follow the rules. They do this by involving the teens in explaining the need for the rules, involves them in the creation of the rules, and listening to the teen's point of view.

Authoritative parents listen to their teen's point of view but make it clear that the parents have the final say. It doesn't mean that the parent won't go out of their way to incorporate the teen's feedback where they are able to.

Teens raised with Authoritative parenting styles tend to be:

  • Social

  • Friendly

  • Energetic

  • Self-reliant

  • Display healthy self-discipline and,

  • Are achievement oriented


Authoritarian parenting style includes high demands of the teen and low responsiveness to needs. Parents have high expectations but are not present or will not provide much in the way of feedback. They also tend to have very strict rules with little wiggle room.

Authoritarian parents tend to be less nurturing. When the teen makes a mistake, authoritarian parents tend to respond harshly and with punishment. Feedback given can be more negative than positive and yelling is the communication style of choice. Authoritarian parents may also use corporal punishment.

Teens raised with an Authoritarian parenting style may struggle with self-esteem and self-worth. They may also act fearful or shy around others outside the home. They may also have difficulty with self-discipline as they were not allowed room for mistakes to learn this skill.

These teens may be oppositional in the home. They may also be more aggressive outside the home. They may struggle with their social skills and tend to conform. They have tied compliance with acceptance and love.

These teens also tend to experience higher rates of teen depression and teen anxiety than teens raised in an Authoritative home.


Permissive parenting style are loving and caring for the teen but lack rules and structure. They may struggle to hold limits with the teen or know where the teen is going, who they are going with, and what time they will be back.

Teens raised with a Permissive parenting style tend to be:

  • Impulsive

  • Defiant

  • Oppositional

  • Lack direction or goals

  • Can be aggressive and,

  • Lack self-discipline.


Parents with an Uninvolved parenting style often reject their teens efforts to connect. They are emotionally unavailable and at times physically not present. Parents who are Uninvolved

Teens who raised with an Uninvolved parenting style tend to:

  • Struggle with self-esteem and self-worth

  • Have low self-confidence

  • May be drawn toward inappropriate role models in their life

Katy Teen & Family Counseling:

Providing Family Therapy for the Katy, TX and Houston

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Teens today are struggling with emotional struggles at a higher rate compared to teens of previous generations. Teen depression, teen anxiety, ADHD, ADD, oppositional defiant disorder, trauma, PTSD and other struggles can be challenging.

While teen therapy may be a part of helping teens through these struggles, family therapy can play an important role. There may be times where small adjustments could be made to parenting styles that would compliment the changes the teen is making.

Together, through teen therapy and family counseling, we can help teens live awesome lives, by overcoming the obstacles of today, thereby preventing the challenges of tomorrow.

If you are ready to start your teen counseling and family therapy journey, you can follow these three simple steps:

  1. Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling

  2. Speak with one of our specialists in family therapy

  3. Start your journey in restoring hope, happiness, & connected family relationships

About the Author

Man with glasses, pink dress shirt, grey sports coat smiling. He provides emdr for teens katy, tx and neurofeedback in katy texas 77494.  He also provides teen neurofeedback therapy houston, tx.

Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker. He is a Specialist in Teen Therapy & Family Counseling. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003.

Through his expertise, he has helped teens who struggle with depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD/ADD, and PTSD, and other teen and family challenges.

He works with talented teen athletes who have experience mental blocks. Gifted students have unique challenges that Jason understands well.

Jason uses CBT, EMDR, Neurofeedback, FFT, and Motivational Interviewing. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, our focus is working with teens and families which allows us to provide the care that teens and families of today need. Resolving the struggles of today can assure a more successful tomorrow.

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