The Four Parenting Styles


By: Ron Huxley, LMFT

Adapted from the book "Love & Limits: Achieving a Balance in Parenting."

The four styles of parenting correspond to a balance of love and limits. These four styles and their balance include:

Love and limits are terms that describe a parents discipline orientation. Parents who are oriented toward a "relational discipline" are said to use love as their primary style of parenting. Parents who use "action discipline" are said to use limits as their primary style of parenting.

All parents incorporate both love and limits in their style of parenting. It is the balance of love and limits that determine a parents particular style. Only the democratic or balanced parenting style have both high love and high limits. In addition, each style has strengths and weaknesses inherent in them and are learned from the important parental figures in our lives. These figures are usually our own parents.

Parents who use love as their primary style (permissive parents) consider love to be more important than limits. They also use attachment and their bond with their child to teach right from wrong. They spend a lot of time with the child communicating, negotiating, and reasoning. Their value is on "increasing their child's self-esteem" or "making them feel special."

Parents who use limits as their primary style (authoritarian parents) consider limits as more important than love (relationship). They use external control to teach right from wrong and are quick to act on a discipline problem. Consequently, children are usually quick to react and rarely get their parents to negotiate. The value is on "teaching respect" and "providing structure."

Parenting styles are defined as the "manner in which parents express their beliefs about how to be a good or bad parent. All parents (at least 99%) want to be a good parent and avoid doing what they consider to be a bad parent. Parents adopt the styles of parenting learned from their parents because 1) They don't know what else to do or 2) They feel that this is the right way (good) to parent.

Ron Huxley is the author of Love & Limits: Achieving a Balance in Parenting and the editor of Parentingtoolbox.com

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