How Parenting Styles Affect Teenagers
Teen years can be a tough time for all involved. Developing teens are undergoing a host of potentially tumultuous transformations. On their way to becoming fully matured adults, biology is changing, hormones are regulating, cognitive advances are being made, and social skills are being shaped. All of these adjustments can spell chaos for parents and teens, alike. Effective parenting requires an understanding of these normal developmental patterns in teenagers. Equally important, however, is a parent’s ability to understand their own parenting style and the extent to which those styles impact their budding adult.
Social scientists have been studying parenting methods for several decades and have determined that, in general, there are four predominant styles: Authoritarian, permissive, uninvolved, and authoritative. As well as identifying styles of parenting, researchers have also observed many outcomes – both positive and negative – that are thought to be a direct result of parenting styles.
Authoritarian parents establish a highly controlled environment where strict rules are enforced. Overly emphasizing organization, structure, and adherence to rules, they show little warmth and are reluctant to listen effectively or engage in deep, meaningful communication with their teens. As a result, many adolescents reared in this type of environment learn to value the strict adherence and enforcement of set rules and learn to devalue independent and creative thinking. Alternatively, they may rebel completely against their parents and other authority figures in an attempt to distance themselves from the stress of ultra-legislated structure.
Permissive parenting is quite the opposite of authoritarian parenting. Permissive parents are over-indulgent and believe that demonstrating love equates to giving their children what they want when they want it. The unfortunate result of well-intentioned permissive methods is the creation of an unrealistic environment for teens where there is an extreme absence of structure. More often than not, a teen being reared under this style of parenting believes in the non-existence of behavioral boundaries and they may also erroneously believe that there will be no consequences for their actions.
Uninvolved parenting style is just like it sounds. Characteristics of this type of parenting are complete disengagement from children’s activities, full preoccupation with work or other interests, or total lack of awareness or focus of the physical or emotional needs of children. Often, these parents depend on the other parent to nurture the children and may believe that their contributions are not needed or wanted. Teens transitioning to adulthood under this type of parenting style essentially feel unloved and unimportant and consistently perform poorly in all areas.
The authoritative style of parenting is the style that is regarded by professionals as having the highest percentage of positive outcomes based on scientific studies. Not to be confused with authoritarian, authoritative parents show warmth, compassion and love for their children, while at the same time, teaching that there are boundaries that must be respected and rules that must be followed. Authoritative parents show respect to their children and, in turn, teach them to respect others. They encourage and demonstrate open communication and active listening. Many positive effects can be seen as a result of authoritative parenting in relation to other parenting styles like healthier self-esteem, improved problem-solving skills, higher levels of self-discipline, and a greater sense of social and personal responsibility.