What Are The 4 Parenting Styles? Find Out Which One You Are

The concept of four distinct parenting styles was coined in the 60s by psychologist Diana Baumrind who studied preschool-age children and their behaviors. She then compared said behaviors with the interaction with the kids’ parents: the adult’s disciplinary strategies, how nurturing and caring they were in times of duress, how they communicated together, and expectations of maturity and control.

What she found was four different styles, those being authoritative, uninvolved, permissive, and disciplinarian (also known as authoritarian). “What it comes down to is where the parent falls on the grid of sensitivity and expectations,” says Aliza Pressman, PhD, co-founding director and director of clinical programming for the Mount Sinai Parenting Center. “Sensitivity is about warmth and nurturing your child’s needs and emotions; expectations is about instilling responsibility in your child and setting boundaries.” 

While these four styles are distinct, parents may identify behaviors from multiple camps (people are complex, after all), however it is more about how the parenting style comes across generally. 

There is also a major cultural context to these. “How you define what makes up these parenting styles may look different for different cultures and communities,” says Pressman. “How one community expresses sensitivity and love may be different than how another community does; Just because it’s not how you do it doesn’t mean they are not being sensitive or that they don’t love their child just as much. So these styles still ring true, it’s just how they are expressed may be different.” 

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