If you’ve been a parent for a hot minute, I bet you’ve heard the terms, “attachment parenting,” “gentle parenting,” “respectful parenting,” and/or “responsive parenting.” Do the names Drs. William and Martha Sears ring a bell? Janet Lansbury? Daniel Siegel?
There’s a whole slew of terms out there that many different kinds of parents may consider themselves. These parenting styles (and probably more that I or you have never even heard of) are more fads than are actually rooted in research.
Do I love a lot of what respectful parenting guru Janet Lansbury suggests?? YES! I love the overall idea of respectful parenting, but also, some of it does seem a little out there. Like, if my child clearly needs to take a bath (I have toddler boys - they get very dirty, very often), I’m not going to ask them, “Can I give you a bath tonight?” Instead, I’m going to ask them, “Would you like to take your bath with a bath bomb or with bath crayons?” This is really a non-negotiable in my house. And also, taking a bath nightly helps with their sleep…which you know I’m all about!
Not to say that these fad styles are “bad” - just that we don’t necessarily know the outcomes of them. How will children parented in these ways turn out?? It’s simply something to be mindful of, especially if you think you really align with any of these parenting styles!
But did you know that there are actually some parenting styles that are truly rooted in research and are recognized and accepted by child development researchers and practitioners??
Those are the ones we’re going to focus on in this post.
Evidence-Based Parenting Styles
There are four main evidence-based parenting styles, and they are categorized on two things: boundaries and warmth.
Check out the four evidence-based parenting styles below:
Authoritative Parenting - lots of boundaries, lots of warmth
Authoritarian Parenting - lots of boundaries, little warmth
Permissive Parenting - few boundaries, lots of warmth
Neglectful Parenting - few boundaries, little warmth
Using my bath time example from above, here’s what that might look like across the different parenting styles:
In the authoritative style of parenting, a parent may negotiate with the child, but still hold the boundary that a bath will be taken tonight, even in a gentle way. Perhaps they’ll agree to a snack in the bathtub (I’ve been known to give a yogurt stick in the tub or a popsicle after a hot day!) or give the child a choice of showering instead.
A parent who aligns more with authoritarian parenting may simply put the child in the tub, even with the child protesting. They may take it upon themselves to wash the child without having them participate, rinse without warning, and remove from the tub. The child is likely protesting most of the time.
The permissive parent, upon hearing that their child doesn’t want to take a bath, may let it slide, saying something like, “Okay, as long as you wash your hands and your face.”
And, a neglectful parent would definitely let it slide and probably wouldn’t follow up with any direction or interaction.
Can you guess, based on these examples, which evidence-based parenting is the most effective at positive child development outcomes?
Authoritative parenting is shown to have the most successful child development outcomes.
However, you may be identifying with a more permissive parenting style, or some days are more authoritarian. I’M THE SAME WAY. It’s okay to not be 100% one way or another. We’re human. And if you’re a mom, you’re probably tired, too.