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Characteristics of Parenting Styles and Their Effects on Adolescent Development

I am a special needs counselor for grade K-5 and I have a bachelor's degree in Applied Psychology. I've worked with children for 5+ years.

Parenting styles are the different types of ways parents raise their children; most parenting styles are a made up of a mix of the parent’s expectations, performance demands, attentiveness to rules, and level of warmth (Psychology Glossary, 2014).

Parenting Styles

While parenting styles do influence adolescent development, adolescents themselves can influence the type of parenting style their parents use.

For instance, an adolescent who always follows the rules may influence their parents to be more lenient, whereas an adolescent that breaks the rules may influence their parents to be stricter with rules and discipline.

There are six main types of parenting styles: attachment parenting, helicopter parenting, permissive parenting, authoritarian parenting, authoritative parenting, and uninvolved parenting. Each of these different parenting styles can influence adolescent development.


1. Attachment Parenting

Attachment parenting is a style of caring with the intent of the parent and child forming a strong emotional bond. Parents who choose this style of parenting often believe in natural childbirth, a family bed, avoidance of corporal punishment, homeschooling and may be part of the anti-vaccination movement (McGolerick, 2011).

  • These types of parents respond promptly to their child's needs, are sensitive and emotionally available for the child at all times (McGolerick, 2011).
  • Parents that choose this parenting style believe that a strong attachment to the parent helps the child become a more secure, empathic, peaceful human being (McGolerick, 2011).
  • Attachment parenting instills the ability to self-soothe and manage anxiety in adolescents (Markham, 2014).
  • Adolescents that grew up with parents who utilized attachment parenting tend to be cooperative with their parents, interact better with peers, learn more rapidly in school, have higher self-esteem, and are more flexible and resilient under stress (Markham, 2014).

2. Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter parenting is a style of parenting where the parents tend to be involved in every aspect of their child’s life to the extent of over-involvement.

These parents constantly interact with and often interfere with their children's lives to ensure the safety and security of their child, but this often leads to smothering (McGolerick, 2011).

  • Helicopter parenting can cause adolescents to become dependent on their parent’s money, time, and advice (McGolerick, 2011).
  • This style of parenting can also compromise teenagers’ autonomy, mastery, and personal growth (Marano, 2014).
  • In some cases, helicopter parenting has led to the development of narcissism, poor coping skills, and amplification of anxiety and stress (Marano, 2014).

Parents that continue to use helicopter parenting once their child has developed into an adolescent can cause their child to resent them due to feelings of humiliation.

Helicopter Parents Often Interfere too Much


3. Permissive Parenting

Permissive parenting is a style of nontraditional parenting where the parents tend to avoid setting rules for their children.

  • These types of parents are warm and understanding towards their children; they tend to be lenient to the extreme and avoid using discipline.
  • Permissive parenting can lead to adolescents learning that rules are not important and that consequences are very light for misbehaviors (Kopko, 2007).
  • Adolescents that grow up with permissive parents often have trouble with self-control, demonstrate egocentric tendencies, and experience difficulty developing good peer relationships.
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4. Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parenting is a punitive style of parenting that is restrictive on children.

  • Authoritarian parents are strict disciplinarians who display little warmth towards their children while exerting a high level of control of their child’s life.
  • Authoritarian parents insist that their adolescent follow directions without argument or discussion (Kopko, 2007).
  • Authoritarian parenting can lead to two main outcomes:
  1. adolescents may become rebellious and display aggressive behaviors toward parents and peers (Kopko, 2007), and
  2. adolescents may also become dependent on parents for directions and rules throughout their lives (Kopko, 2007).
  • Authoritarian parents tend to raise girls who are less independent, boys who are more aggressive, and children who appear discontent and extrinsically motivated (Ginsburg & Bronstein 1993).

A Common Phrase Used by Authoritarian Parents


5. Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting is a style of parenting characterized by parents being warm, but firm towards their child.

  • Authoritative parents typically establish rules and guidelines that they expect their child to follow, however these parents are open to negotiation and discussion (McGolerick, 2011).
  • These parents encourage their adolescent to be independent with limits and controls on the adolescent’s actions (Kopko, 2007).
  • Authoritative parents use a type of discipline that is assertive but not restrictive, with the intent being to support rather than punish (McGolerick, 2011).
  • Adolescents with authoritative parents learn how to negotiate and engage in discussions (Kopko, 2007).
  • These adolescents end up being socially competent, responsible, and autonomous (Kopko, 2007).

Authoritative Parenting is Ideal

6. Uninvolved Parenting

Uninvolved parenting is a style of parenting where the parents tend to be as uninvolved as possible in the life of their child; any interaction tends to be kept short, and their child’s opinion is neither asked for nor wanted.

  • Uninvolved parents are not warm towards their child and they do not place any demands on their adolescent.
  • Uninvolved parents are indifferent to their adolescent’s needs, location, experiences at school, and experiences with peers; these types of parents can be uninvolved to the point of neglect.
  • Adolescents will learn that their parents are more interested in themselves than they are in their children (Kopko, 2007).
  • These adolescents tend to take on similar behavior of not caring about others which can lead to impulsive behaviors and problems with self-regulation (Kopko, 2007).

Lack of Interest in Their own Child


The Optimal Parenting Style for Adolescent Development

While there is no one parenting style that is guaranteed to ensure an adolescent develops in a healthy way, there are parenting styles that are healthier than others.

The authoritative parenting style is the style that is most closely associated with healthy adolescent development (Steinberg, 2001). The authoritative parenting style offers a balance between affection, support, and an appropriate degree of parental control in managing adolescent behavior; this provides adolescents with the opportunity to develop into self-reliant individuals with a healthy sense of autonomy within parental limits (Kopko, 2007).

Authoritative Parenting = Adolescent Development


Combination Parenting Styles

Adolescents in a two-parent household can experience a different parenting style from each parent. While each parent using a different parenting style can be beneficial to adolescent development, it can also be disadvantageous.

In households where two different parenting styles are used, it is important that the parents discuss and create a set of rules and a discipline plan that they both agree with and will both enforce regardless of their chosen parenting style (Kopko, 2007).

For instance, both parents could decide in advance that if their adolescent breaks curfew, then the adolescent’s curfew will be made earlier and the adolescent will be grounded for three days; then if the situation occurs both parents already know that they agree on the consequence and can enforce it together without arguing. It is important in the case of differing parenting styles that both parents aim for consistency in setting and enforcing rules on adolescent behaviors (Kopko, 2007).

Attachment parenting, helicopter parenting, permissive parenting, authoritarian parenting, authoritative parenting, and uninvolved parenting can each influence adolescent development in positive or negative ways.

  • Some parenting styles like helicopter parenting can be effective during infancy through early childhood, but then prove detrimental to adolescent development if continued into adolescence.
  • Other parenting styles like authoritative parenting can prove to be beneficial to development from early childhood through early adulthood.

Knowing which parenting style will be the most beneficial to development depends on the personality of each individual adolescent.

Stages of Adolescent Development


My Interest in Parenting Styles

I first developed an interest in the difference in parenting styles and their effect on both children and parents during my time at Southern New Hampshire University studying applied psychology.

My interest was furthered when I began working as a school counselor for children both with and without special needs from kindergarten through fifth grade. It was at my employment as a school counselor that I first got to see up close the effect that children have on their parents' parenting styles and the effect that a parent's parenting style has on the child/children.

I chose to write this article to share the insights I gained from my experiences as a student and a counselor on parenting styles.


Ginsburg, G., & Bronstein, P. (1993). Family Factors Related To Children's Intrinsic/Extrinsic Motivational Orientation And Academic Performance. Child Development, 1461-1471.

Kopko, K. (2007). Parenting Styles and Adolescents. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from

Marano, H. (2014, January 31). Helicopter Parenting-It's Worse Than You Think. Retrieved November 25, 2014, from

Markham, L. (2014). Pros and cons of the attachment parenting philosophy. Retrieved November 25, 2014, from

McGolerick, E. (2011, September 13). Definitions of parenting styles. Retrieved November 11, 2014, from

Psychology Glossary. (2014). Parenting Styles. Retrieved December 2, 2014, from Styles

Steinberg, L. (2001). We Know Some Things: Parent-Adolescent Relationships In Retrospect And Prospect. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 1-19.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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© 2014 Sefina Hawke


sybol on November 05, 2017:

I agree, children can influence the type of parenting that a parent uses. Parents should pay close attention to their child, their temperament, their personality, and their choices.

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