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Parenting Styles

This activity introduces Baumrind’s model of parenting styles and explains how these might shape children’s ability to engage in relationships.

Read the following which provides a short introduction to parenting styles.


This idea of parenting styles is very pervasive in regard to supporting social and emotional development. The parenting style typology developed by Baumrind (1973) identified three key parenting styles, Authoritative, Permissive, and AuthoritarianIndifferent is a fourth identified path (Bornstein 2009).  

Baumrind describes authoritative parenting as an integrated approach to parenting which is neither too permissive in deferring too much too the child, nor too authoritarian, where the adult exerts too much control over the child (Baumrind, 1996).  

“Within the authoritative model, behavioral compliance and psychological autonomy are not viewed as mutually exclusive but rather as interdependent objectives: children are encouraged to respond habitually in prosocial ways and to reason autonomously about moral problems, and to respect adult authorities and to learn how to think independently” (Baumrind 1996: 405) .  

  Bornstein (2009) showed how these styles have been increasingly widely tested and found to be helpful in a range of contexts which suggest them to be influential in the toddler period in shaping the child’s attitudes to social engagement and collaborative learning.    

Bornstein, Putnick and Lansford (2011) give an overview of a cross cultural study comparing authoritarian and progressive parenting styles in over 1000 families in 9 countries. This study suggests that in several contemporary cultural contexts around the world there is a trend towards more progressive parenting styles. They suggest that country differences in progressive and authoritarian attitudes articulate with societal encouragement of  child agency. “Parents who hold more authoritarian attitudes may encourage less agency in their children than parents who hold more progressive attitudes” (Bornstein, Putnick and Lansford 2011: 229). However, they still report considerable variance in interpretation within and across countries, cultures and communities.  

After reflecting on what you have read above, use your portfolio to answer the following:

  • What are your views on attitudes to parenting in your experience?
  • To what extent would you agree that attitudes are changing in different communities and age groups?