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“Am I Traumatizing My Kids?”: Effects of Parenting Styles on Children’s Behavior

5 Key Points about Parenting Styles:

  1. There are 4 types of parenting styles: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive, Neglectful
  2. Identifying your parenting style is the first step in making sure you leave a healthy and intentional impact on your child’s future mental health.
  3. Parenting style will impact a child’s sense of self self (e.g., esteem, efficacy), emotional regulation, and future interpersonal relationships
  4. The Authoritative parenting style is considered to be the most beneficial as it emphasizes valuing your child’s feelings, and discipline over punishment.
  5. Authoritarian parenting is deemed the least effective parenting style and can lead to conduct disorder

Since the 1960’s there has been major interest and research on the way that parenting impacts a human’s state of being throughout the lifespan. It is common for parents to wonder things like: Am I doing a good job? Did I make a mistake? What does my child need to be successful? Did I just traumatize my child? These types of questions are both normal and healthy.

Parents are their child’s first interaction with the larger themes of life. They have the power to impact the way their child views the world, themselves, and especially their interpersonal relationships. It is imperative that as a parent you have a realistic and thorough understanding of your parenting style and how it can influence your child’s future interactions with themselves and society. 

In 1960, psychologist Diana Baumrind identified 3 main parenting styles. Her work was later expounded upon in the 1980’s, and in present day, we now acknowledge 4 unique parenting styles and their implications for adolescent and adult mental health. The most commonly referenced are:

  1. Authoritarian
  1. Authoritative
  1. Permissive
  1. Uninvolved / Neglectful

It is imperative to note that there is no one size fits all approach to parenting, and only you know what is best for you and your child. Customs and beliefs vary by culture and familial expectations. However, research has shown that the impacts of each style can reverberate through a person’s lifetime, even leading to childhood trauma and antisocial behavior.


Primary Tenets:

The Authoritarian parenting style is characterized by strict rules and high expectations. Rules are rarely explained, and reasoning typically takes shape in the form of, “Because I said so”. Parents under this style expect their children to be obedient and dutiful, and be fearful of consequence should they make a mistake or not adhere to a standard. There is no consideration of children’s feelings, and authoritarian parents are considered to be less nurturing. 

Common language / ideals:

. Corporal punishment–or the threat of punishment, is often used as a tool to obtain obedience and compliance (2018)

. This parenting style exemplifies high demand and low responsiveness. They ask a lot of their children, however, they are not acknowledging or attuned with their child’s emotional needs or mental states.

. They rarely give reasoning or justification for decisions / expectations, and they demand blind obedience.

. They may state things like: “because I said so”, or “I am the parent, so I am in charge”.

Impact on child through lifespan:

. Can lead to children who are good at following instructions.

. Children and adolescents are susceptible to experiencing large amounts of aggression and/or temper tantrums (2022).

. Can become dishonest to avoid punishment and/or ridicule

. Can experience conduct disorder, which can also be related to antisocial behavior

. Often perform poorly in school and have less emotional regulation

. Can grow up to be less decisive and have difficulty developing independence

. Have greater difficulty with social interactions and interpersonal relationships

. Prone to substance abuse and depression

It is important to note that the Authoritarian parenting style is most likely to produce children who present with Conduct Disorder and behavioral issues. Conduct Disorder is emotional and behavioral issues that can present as a disregard of others and their feelings. This can take place at school with peers and authority figures, and even in the home with their family members. Behavioral issues can include physical and verbal aggression, antisocial behavior, and even breaking of rules and laws.


Primary Tenets:

The Authoritative parenting style is categorized by warmth, intentionality, and communication. These parents are attentive to their children’s needs and emotions, often giving them autonomy while developing an understanding of boundaries. While the authoritative parent does discipline their child, it is often not an attempt to punish or control–but to develop their child’s self-awareness and understanding of consequences. These parents are not afraid to set rules, however, they are more likely to respond to negotiations and take their child’s feelings and emotions into consideration.

Common ideals:

. Children can and should have autonomy

. Rules and boundaries exists, but these parents are not restrictive or demanding

. Parents provide reasoning and logic behind rules and expectations

. Feelings are important, and children are provided with reassurance, love, and affection

Impact on child through lifespan:

. Can mature to be independent and competent

. Are generally happier

. Can have high self-esteem and healthy social skills / interpersonal relationships

. Can grow to be highly active and have great academic performance

. Less likely to experience depression, anxiety, and substance dependency 

. Least likely to experience behavioral issues or major problems like conduct disorder


Primary Tenets:

The Permissive parenting style is categorized by the ideals that “Kids will be kids” and “Children learn best by doing and exploring.” The permissive parent can be loving and warm, like the authoritative parent, but they are lenient. While they can and do set rules / expectations, they rarely enforce them, and allow their children to operate under large amounts of autonomy. This parenting style often posits the parents as friends instead of authority figures or guiding forces.

Common Ideals:

. Struggles with enforcing rules / boundaries

. Children can be easily let off the hook for any negative behaviors

. Children and adolescent have a high sense of autonomy and low parental regulations

. Parents give children a  lot of freedom (e.g. no curfew, may determine their own bedtime or screen time, etc.)

Impact on child through lifespan:

. Children find it difficult to follow rules

. Can grow up to be egocentric

. Can become demanding and entitled

. Can lack impulse control

. May experience low self-esteem, poor emotional regulation, and high rates of sadness

Children under this parenting style are used to having their way. They are unfamiliar with the concept of boundaries or being regulated by rules and expectations. These children can often grow up to be entitled and do not always operate will with others. While this parenting style is not heavily related to conduct disorder, there is some potential for poor behavior in school and throughout the lifespan due to the lack of impulse control and emotional regulation.


Primary Tenets:

The Uninvolved/Neglectful parenting style is categorized by either physical or emotional. absenteeism. These parents are often uninvolved, emotionally distant, or inaccessible in some manner. They are described as “detached” and are often unaware of their child’s needs, desires, or life experiences. Since they are absent, they do not provide their children with any nurturing or emotional support. Children under this parenting style have a great deal of freedom and autonomy; they also lack supervision and guidance. 

Common Ideals:

. Parents do not invest much thought or attention into meeting their children’s basic needs

. Parents often do not know where their children are, or with whom

. Neglect may not be intentional, but a result of personal struggles with mental illness, preoccupation with providing / surviving, or lack of knowledge about parenting. 

Impact on child through lifespan:

. Children are often independent and self-sufficient out of a survival response

. May have difficulty with emotional regulation and may be more impulsive

. Children and adolescents are more likely to encounter mental health issues (e.g., suicidality, depression)

. Are more likely to perform poorly in school

Continuous research on parenting styles has positioned Authoritative parenting as the most ideal for well-adjusted children and adults. Children under this parenting style have better lifestyle outcomes. 

Recommended Course of Treatment 

With adequate self-assessment and education, parenting styles are malleable. If you desire to have a greater impact on your child’s outcome, understanding the effects of parenting styles is a great first step. You may even be interested in trying a Parenting Style Quiz. These quizzes–not only help you identify your parenting style, but they also offer helpful tips for maximizing your parenting and have the greatest impact on your child’s wellbeing. If you want to go a step further, you may also check out parent effectiveness training.

Parent Effectiveness Training, also known as P.E.T., is a type of training that teaches effective communication skills for parents of children of all ages. Whether you are working with a toddler who has temper tantrums, or adolescents who are diagnosed with conduct disorder, Parent Effectiveness Training teaches you the skills needed to develop healthier relationships and bring your family closer.

If you are looking for a Black therapist in Atlanta who can assist you in identifying your parenting style and developing effective tips for parenting, hop on over to our team page. We have therapists who specialize in Black couples counseling, childhood trauma, and can even work with parents whose children have been diagnosed with conduct disorder other behavioral issues.

Works Cited:

  1. Bi X, Yang Y, Li H, Wang M, Zhang W, Deater-deckard K. Parenting styles and parent-adolescent relationships: the mediating roles of behavioral autonomy and parental authority. Front Psychol. 2018;9:2187. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.0218
  1. Mendez, M., Sanvictores, T. (2022). Types of Parenting Styles and Effects On Children. National Library of Medicine. Web Accessed July 2023:
  2. Morin, Amy. (2023) The 4 Types of Parenting Styles and How Kids Are Affected. VeryWell Mind. Web Accessed July 2023: