Characteristics of good parenting vs. bad parenting and the effects on adolescents

What defines good parenting? Is a demanding parent, expecting too much from the child a good parent or is being undemanding, having little or no expectations, better? Is it good to be involved or is it best to let the child learn through mistakes? Let the characteristics of different parenting styles be your guide to which is the most appropriate way to raise children.

Parenting styles differ, not just between different sets of parents, but even within couples. Parents play their role to the best of their ability. Some choose to be an authoritarian parent over being authoritative, (yes, there is a difference). Some remain uninvolved while some others turn permissive.

Parents usually mean well. Ultimately, all they want is for their children to grow into good, happy and successful human beings. In this quest, for a good future for their children, parents adopt different parenting techniques. All fine, really, but when you look at the effects of different styles of parenting, it is easy to tell that some methods are better than others. Some work, and yield good results, while other parenting styles might not prove to be the right way to raise children.

Most parents usually adopt a mix of parenting techniques, but then there are a few who stick to just one pattern. All parents have expectations of their children, in terms of conduct and achievement, adherence to rules, and they base their parenting pattern on the behavioural pattern of the child.

Some parents take loving and caring for their children to an all new level, and resort to indulging them. Every parenting style has a different impact on children, especially when they are at that crucial adolescent age when they need the most guidance and direction. This is the phase that really shapes an adolescent's life. Parenting can affect their development in a positive or a negative manner. However, what is remarkable is that many a time it is the adolescents that influence the parenting style that parents adopt.

For instance, an adolescent who constantly misbehaves will influence the parents to enforce stricter rules and discipline, whereas parent's whose child is polite and well-mannered might not set parameters, defining what is acceptable and what is not, because their child is already doing what they want. As you see, the parenting style of both sets of parents is determined by the child's behaviour.

Yet, every parent has a characteristic style of parenting. Psychologists classify them into six distinct categories. So, what are the distinctive characteristics of parenting styles?

  • Authoritative parenting
  • Authoritarian parenting
  • Helicopter parenting
  • Uninvolved parenting
  • Permissive parenting
  • Attachment parenting

Here is a peep into the different approaches parents take while raising kids.

Authoritative Parenting

The authoritative parenting style has parents being firm, yet supportive towards their children. They set high standards and have specific rules for children to follow. They are assertive, but not rigid, and follow a democratic way of parenting. It is not a "do as I say" form of parenting. Authoritative parents are open to discussion – they listen to their child's arguments and willingly look at things from the child's viewpoint.

Such parents boost confidence in their child. They encourage them to be independent while keeping a watchful eye, supporting them from the wings.

Children of authoritative parents grow to be level-headed, socially competent and independent adults. They learn to hold their own, and are capable of engaging in discussions and negotiations on their terms.

Authoritarian Parenting

This is a parenting style that is centred on discipline and rules, a whole lot of them. Authoritarian parents don't consider the child's perspective on matters. Things have to be done because they "say so". No ifs and no buts – and "I don't want to", are well, not even a choice.

It is a punitive style of parenting that can be very restricting on the adolescent. Parents who adhere to this mode of parenting exercise a high-level of domination on their child's life. The parent-child relationship lacks warmth. The child always has to do what the parent wants. In an attempt to discipline the child authoritarian parents also resort to punishment.

Kids raised by an authoritarian parent generally grow up to be rebellious, especially being hostile towards the parent. Their bitterness extends towards others too. However, in some cases, the child remains totally under the control of the parents, even as an adult. These children are incapable of making decisions and turn to their parents for guidance. They are mostly unsuccessful in making and maintaining friendships and relationships.

Helicopter Parenting

As the name suggests, helicopter parenting has parents hovering over their children. The key characteristic of this style of parenting is that the parents involve themselves in every single facet of their kid's life. These parents are extra vigilant, constantly safeguarding their children and prying into their lives. The adolescents feel smothered by all the attention and are often humiliated among friends.

Helicopter parenting can often be damaging, as adolescents become overly dependent on their parents, for everything. It can compromise their development because the over protective environment doesn't allow them space to explore, experiment and pick up life skills.

Adolescents raised in this environment are self-centred and prone to high-levels of stress and anxiety. They exhibit poor surviving skills. They also end up disliking their parents because of all the embarrassment they are put through, by their constant mollycoddling, in front of friends.

Uninvolved Parenting

Uninterested, passive, neglectful, aloof and absent are a few adjectives that best describe the uninvolved parenting style. The parent basically remains uninvolved in activities that surround the child. Such parents maintain a distance and have a tendency of keeping interactions with the child as brief as possible. They offer no support (other than financial support) in raising the child. They do not care for the child's opinion on things, they decide and follow through whatever needs to be done.

There is a lack of affection in this relationship. Uninvolved parents care little of what goes on in their child's life. There is no flow of communication and sharing of thoughts. The parent has no clue about who the child's friends are, what interests the child or how the child copes with everyday things.

Children of uninvolved parents learn early on in life that they are not a priority. They pick the traits from their parent and grow to be unfriendly and self-absorbed. They do not develop close bonds and their actions are often impulsive. They find it difficult to fit into social circles.

Permissive Parenting

This is an unorthodox method of parenting where parents set no rules and guidelines, for their children. Parents allow their children to follow their heart and offer them encouragement. The parents are overindulgent and over affectionate towards their children. They use no discipline to control their kids and are often seen to be very lenient.

Adolescents brought up in a permissive parenting home can grow up believing that rules are unimportant and there are no penalties for unacceptable behaviour. They grow up being their own bosses, without real direction, from a well-meaning, responsible adult. They have trouble fitting into the real world, where rules apply and discipline is a norm.

These children often have a problem demonstrating restraint, they are conceited and smug and can have trouble forming relationships with their peers.

Attachment Parenting

Parents that embrace the attachment parenting manner are like child's Siamese twin, attached at the hip, as it were. There is a strong emotional bond between the parent and the child, as a result of the parent being over-involved and devoted towards their child.

They believe in doing things together. They have the child under their watchful eye, as much as possible. They do not believe in, spare the rod and spoil the child - corporal punishment is a big no. These parents are responsible and attend to their child's every need. They are accessible and make themselves emotionally available to the child.

The result of such parenting is that a strong bond exists between the parent and the child. The child, consecutively, feels safe and cared for and turns out to be gentle and compassionate. Such adolescents are less prone to anxiety and handle stress with ease. They are accommodating, giving the parents no reason to complain. They get along well with their peers. They are quick learners and do exceptionally well at school. They are smart and confident.

Is there an optimal parenting style

Unfortunately, there is no single method of parenting that can be termed as the ideal way. Nevertheless, some methods are definitely better than the others. In this respect, noted child-psychologists suggest the authoritative parenting style to be better, than the rest. This parenting method provides the right elements for the adolescents mental, social, emotional and psychological development. It is a neat combination of factors that aid development. There is a perfect supply of warmth and support and an apposite level of parental control in dealing with adolescent behaviour.

This structure offers teenagers the right opportunities that help them develop into resourceful young adults, with a strong sense of independence, within parental control.

Combination Parenting

With mom and dad sharing parenting responsibilities, most kids grow up in an environment where each parent practices their own method of parenting. If correctly done, such dual parenting methods can prove to be valuable, for the development of the adolescent. However, in an event where parents disagree and there is a constant clash of opinions, on how the child must be raised, then the real aim of parenting is lost.

It is therefore important that parents have a chat and come to a mutual consensus on how to discipline the child, what rules to apply and how to co-parent effectively. It is important that parents follow the rules as well. The aim must be to provide the best atmosphere for the growth and development of the child.

While co-parenting, it is vital that parents do not undercut one and another, in front of the child. In a situation where one parent disagrees with the other's method, the matter should be discussed and resolved later, when the child is not around. That is the characteristic of good co-parenting. Children are smart and can take advantage of the situation, playing one parent against the other, to their advantage.


The bottom-line is that every parenting style has its own characteristics and each of these styles can impact adolescent development in different ways. Some styles have a more positive effect than others. The helicopter parenting style, for instance, is ideal for the early stages of a child's life; right through infancy until the child is in grade 4. This style of parenting can have negative effects beyond a certain age. At the adolescent age, a child does not need a parent's hovering presence. This is the time when a child is best encouraged from a distance, but it is crucial that there is no deficiency in support and affection.

The authoritative parenting style is consistent and follows a balanced approach. It is a method that rarely goes wrong. That being said, it is best that parents train their parenting style based on the temperament of their child.

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