What Are the Different Parenting Styles?

Many couples divorce because they cannot agree on how to raise their children. Understanding the 4 parenting styles can help you navigate these disagreements to avoid divorce – or get better at co-parenting after a divorce.

What Are the 4 Types of Parenting Styles and Their Characteristics?

The 4 different types of parenting styles are permissive, authoritative, neglectful, and authoritarian.

A permissive parenting style is a child-driven parenting style characterized by high responsiveness and low demandingness. Permissive parents rarely give or enforce rules but might overindulge their children to avoid conflict.

Authoritative parents, on the other hand, set clear rules and expectations and seek to solve problems alongside their children. They maintain open channels of communication (e.g., explaining the reasons behind rules) and prefer to let children experience the natural consequences of their actions (e.g., getting a detention at school if they don’t do their homework). The authoritative parenting style is high on both responsiveness and demandingness.

Conversely, the neglectful parenting style is low on both responsiveness and demandingness. Parents may be uninvolved or absent from their children’s lives, provide little nurturance or guidance, and be unaware of or indifferent to their children’s social, emotional, and behavioral needs.

An authoritarian parenting style is strict and parent-driven, with low responsiveness and high demandingness. Parents typically set strict rules, use harsh punishments, and engage in one-way communication with their children. Although parents may be aware of their children’s social, emotional, and behavioral needs, they rarely consider these needs when making parenting decisions.

What Is the Best Parenting Style?

According to CNBC:

Research suggests that authoritative parents are more likely to raise independent, self-reliant and socially competent kids.”

Nevertheless, the publication also suggests that “the most successful parents know when to change their style, depending on the situation.”

For example, permissive parents take on a friendship role, which your child may need if they are going through a hard time, you may need to take an authoritarian parenting style in unsafe situations (like crossing the street), and some parents find the neglectful parenting style the only way to cope with a child’s difficult teenage years.


Most parents use all 4 parenting styles throughout their children’s childhoods.

When it comes to parenting, there are no right answers, and the best parenting style is the one that works the best for your family at any given time.

What If My Spouse and I Do Not Agree on What Is Best for Our Family?

If you and your spouse disagree on parenting styles and cannot agree to and support one another’s decisions, it can be difficult to run a successful household and raise mentally healthy children. If one parent is permissive and the other is authoritarian, for instance, you might unintentionally confuse your children – and even cause lasting psychological damage.

Fortunately, 2 parents with different parenting styles can “balance each other out” and create a healthy environment for their children. It all depends on how well you and your spouse can work together (marriage and family therapy can be helpful).

If you find that you and your spouse cannot work together (even with counseling), separating may be the best solution. Your children can learn to navigate 2 different households better than they can tolerate constant conflict and learn to navigate 2 distinct parenting styles in the same household.

Just like you are the only one who can determine the best parenting style for your children in any situation, you and your spouse are the only ones who can decide whether to end your marriage.

Keep in mind that you will likely have to continue parenting together until your children are grown. For many couples, this is easier to achieve from different households.

If you are considering divorce, speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Our team at TRABOLSI | LEVY | GABBARD LLP is ready to listen to your concerns and create a solution that works for you and your family. With 2 Board Certified Family Law Specialists and over 100 years of collective experience, we can help you do what’s best for you and your children.

An Important Note

If you disagree with your spouse’s parenting style because you think it may border on child abuse, talk to a lawyer immediately because you may be in a domestic violence situation. You might need a plan to leave your spouse safely and a restraining order to protect yourself and your children.

Additionally, an abusive spouse or parent should not have custody of the children you share.

TRABOLSI | LEVY | GABBARD LLP can help you fight for full custody and protect your family’s future.

No matter what you are facing, our expertise is your protection, so call us at (310) 455-8364 or contact us online for a legal team that always puts you and your children first.

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