Category: Psychology


Rearing is a difficult but at the same time necessary job. Parents have the greatest impact on the lives of their children. Consequently, parents’ understanding of children’s needs and thoughts is crucial in shaping the future behavior of children. Factors such as genes, environment, culture, gender and financial situation have a lower value. Studies show that there is interdependence between parenting style and progress in school, sexual activity of child, the possibility to be involved in crime, cruelty and antisocial behavior, depression, alcohol and drug use, and the level of self-esteem.

Researchers Barakat and Clark came to the conclusion that they differ by four parameters (Barakat, Clark, 1999):

  • expression of parental warmth,
  • a strategy for creating and maintaining discipline,
  • away of communication,
  • expectations from the child.

She identified three parenting styles: authoritarian, liberal and authoritative.

Authoritarian Parents

Authoritarian (dictatorial) parenting lacks warmth; it has strict discipline, communication in the "parent-child" style takes precedence over the “child-parent” communication, expectations of parents from their children are very high. In the West, this style was dominant, "The state of affairs in those days (the 19th, early 20th century) was such that this style was most effective, for example, in the agro-industrial societies." Authoritarian parents as a rule rarely demonstrate their love and "it seems that they are somewhat removed from their children”. Parents give instructions and orders with no regard to the views of children, and they do not acknowledge the possibility of compromise. Obedience, respect and adherence to tradition are highly valued in such families. Rules cannot be discussed. It is believed that parents are always right and disobedience is often physically punished. But parents "do not cross the line and do not reach the beatings and cruel-treatment." As children, in order to avoid punishment, always obey their parents, they become passive. Authoritarian parents also expect greater maturity of their children than it is typical of their age. Activity of children is very low as the approach to education focuses on parents and their needs. This parenting style has a number of shortcomings in the development of a child. When peer influence on children’s behavior is the greatest, it is easier to take over bad habits from peers, and they do not discuss their problems with their parents (why must I do this if I am still always wrong or any attention is not paid for me?). They are often the subjects of strong peer pressure. Often disappointed in their expectations, they distance themselves from their parents and often protest against their values and principles. Steinberg argues that the level of violence among boys of such families is the highest. They are not sure of their success, they are less balanced and less persistent in achieving goals and have low self-esteem. In addition, there is an inverse interdependence between authoritarianism and good progress in education. Other studies have shown that these children lack social adaptation, and they rarely initiate any activity, "They are not curious, cannot act spontaneously and usually rely on the opinion of elders or superiors” (Steinberg, 1996).

Liberal Parents

The liberal (free) style is characterized by warm relations between parents and children, poor discipline, and "child-parent" communication prevails over the "parent-child" communication. Liberal parents do not put high expectations on their children. This style was popular in the 1950s and 1960s. The fact that in the past many people in Germany followed Hitler was attributed to the fact that they were raised in conditions of authoritarianism, which required obedience from them. Thus, parents "created conditions" for Hitler. Hoping to avoid such undesirable side effects, they have become liberal (Barakat, Clark, 1999).

Liberal parents are caring and attentive; they have a very close relationship with children. Most of them take care about giving children the opportunity to express themselves, the creative side of their personality and individuality, and making them happy. They believe that this will teach them distinguish right from wrong. It is difficult for liberal parents to establish clear boundaries of acceptable behavior for their children; they are inconsistent and often encourage relaxed behavior. If certain rules or standards exist in the family, children are not fully forced to follow them. Liberal parents sometimes like to take orders and instructions from their children; they are passive and give children a great influence in the family. These parents do not put high expectations on their kids, discipline in their families is minimal, and they do not feel a great responsibility for the future of children. Paradoxically, children of these families are the least happy. They are more prone to psychological problems such as depression and all kinds of phobias, including the tendency to commit violence. They easily can be involved in all sorts of antisocial acts. Investigations have shown that there is interdependence between liberal education and crime among juveniles, drug and alcohol abuse, and early sexual activity.

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These parents instil in their children the idea that they can achieve the desired by manipulating others, "Children get a false sense of control over their parents, and then try to manage the people around them." Later, they perform poorly in school, do not obey the elders, and "may also try to avoid clearly formulated laws and regulations." Since they have not been taught to control themselves and to monitor their behavior, it is hard to develop a sense of self-esteem for these children. Lack of discipline gives a wish for them to set some supervision by themselves. So they are "making a lot of effort to take control on their parents and try to force parents to control themselves." Unsatisfied psychological needs of children of permissive parents lead to the fact that they are "vulnerable and unable to withstand the daily problems that prevent the child to participate fully in society.” This impedes their social development, building of positive self-esteem. Without having high goals and expectations, "the children of permissive parents do not usually control their impulses, they show immaturity and do not want to take responsibility."

Steinberg points the strong interconnection between the liberal parenting style and poor school performance as parents do not have interest in the education of children and do not hold debates and discussions on various topics. Other adverse effects are insomnia and the lack of a sense of security (Steinberg, 1996).

Authoritative Parents

Authoritative parenting style is characterized by warm relations between parents and children, reasonable disciplinary requirements and expectations from the future of children and frequent communication. Authoritative parents are caring and attentive. They create the atmosphere in the house full of love and provide emotional support to their children. In contrast to liberal parents, they are fair, solid and consistent in their demands. Authoritative parents provide discipline by using rational and problem-focused strategies in order to ensure the independence of children in need to obey the rules. They require obedience to some established standards for behavior and control their implementation. Family rules are rather democratic than dictatorial. Parents use a reasonable argument, discussion and persuasion rather than force to achieve understanding with children. They equally listen to their children and express own demands. Children have an alternative, they are encouraged to offer their own decisions and take responsibility for their actions. As a result, these children believe in themselves and in the ability to perform their responsibilities. When parents appreciate and respect the opinions of their children, it is beneficial to both sides. Authoritative parents set reasonable limits and standards of behavior for their children. Parents give them understanding that children will always have a help if they need it. In general, this parenting style is characterized by mutual understanding between parents and children, and mutual cooperation.

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Studies also show that these children are less susceptible to the negative influence from peers and can better build relationships with them. As the authoritative parenting style provides a balance between control and independence, competent, responsible, independent and self-confident children are the result of it. The possibility of developing high self-esteem and self-confidence is much higher in these children; they are less aggressive and are more successful in life.

Moreover, unlike other children, they are better adapted to life. According to researches, children of authoritative parents take the first place by self-esteem, the ability to adapt to the leadership and interest in faith of God, which is professed by parents. They respect authority, responsibility and control their desires. Steinberg argues that these children are more confident and responsible, so the probability of drug or alcohol abuse is much smaller as the ability to be involved in criminal activity. They have fewer phobias, depression and symptoms of aggression (Steinberg, 1996).

Thus, modern culture places great importance on the preparation for the birth of children, so the parents spend much time thinking about all the details - from the choice of diapers to the selection of the school. However, little attention is paid to rearing. Studies consistently show that these methods are directly related to the growing up of children, their level of life, and their adherence to the rules established in the community.

That is why parents have to analyze psychological parenting styles and their influence, and to choose what the best for them and their children is.

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