Traditional Parenting Styles: Tried and True? Or Dated? An Analysis Baumrind’s Parenting Styles and Modern Parenting Advice

By Emmanuel Boateng and Brent Cleveland


A parent is one of the most significant influences in child development.  One area of a child development in which a parent has a great deal of influence is the socialization of the child.  Parental socialization is responsible for teaching children the values, skills, knowledge, and behavior that are considered appropriate for the present and future within a given culture (Siegler et al., 469).  Children experience parental socialization via 3 broad practices: direct instruction by parents, indirect socialization through parents’ own behavior, and social management by parents (Siegler et al., 469).  Although parental socialization seems straightforward according to these 3 categories, it becomes increasingly complex when one considers the various parenting styles and techniques. Parenting practices are different within each family, thus when parents struggle to raise their children, identifying their mistakes, seeking assistance, and incorporating new practices can be a daunting task.  The aim of this article is to compare and contrast the Diana Baumrind’s four traditional parenting styles with the advice of more recent media in the hopes of identifying the foundation for healthy, successful parenting techniques. Are Baumrind’s ideas dated?  Are the new perspectives misleading?  Are the concepts of modern parenting advice merely disguised versions of Baumrind’s original theory?  What can be learned from both sources of parenting techniques?  These questions and more will be considered going forward.

Diana Baumrind conducted pioneering research on parenting styles. In her research, she found four basic elements that helped create her parenting styles: responsiveness vs. unresponsiveness and demanding vs. undemanding. Using this idea, Baumrind differentiated between four parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and rejecting-neglecting. The authoritative style is high in demandingness and responsiveness. Measured and consistent in disciple, parents who employ this style set clear cut standards for their children and are very firm about enforcing them. However, they allow their children autonomy within the limits, are not intrusive or restrictive, and are able to engage in calm conversation and reasoning with their children. Moreover, they are responsive to their children’s needs and communicate openly with them. An example of authoritative parenting is as follows: When Kareem takes away Troy’s toy, Kareem’s mother takes him aside, points out that the toy belongs to Troy and that Kareem has made Troy upset. She also says, “Remember our rule about taking others’ things. Now think about how to make things right with Troy.” Her tone is firm but not hostile, and she waits to see if Kareem returns the toy (Siegler et al., 469-471). In contrast to authoritative, authoritarian parenting is high in demandingness and low in responsiveness. Parents who use this type of parenting are unresponsive to their children’s needs and not open to communication. They employ and enforce strict rules and demands using parental power and threats. They expect their children to comply with their rules without questions or explanations and require complete obedience from their children. An example of authoritarian parenting is as follows: When Elene takes Mark’s toy, Elene’s mother comes over, grabs her arm, and says in an angry voice, “Haven’t I warned you about taking others’ things? Return that toy now or you will not be able to watch TV tonight. I’m tired of you disobeying me!” (Siegler et al., 471).

As the complete opposite of authoritarian, permissive parenting is high in responsiveness and low in demandingness. Permissive parents are responsive to their children; however, they do not set limits for them and do not try to regulate their behavior or control them. A scenario of permissive parenting is as follows: When Jeff takes away Angelina’s toy, Jeff ’s mother does not intervene. She doesn’t like to discipline her son and usually does not try to control his actions, even though she is affectionate with him in other situations (Siegler et al., 471). Finally, the last type of parenting style discovered by Baumrind was the rejecting-neglecting style. This style of parenting is low in both demandingness and responsiveness. Rejecting-neglecting parents do not set limits for their children and are unresponsive to their needs. They are unresponsive, focused more on themselves and their needs, often times rejecting or neglecting their child as a whole. An example of this parenting is as follows: When Heather takes away Alonzo’s toy, Heather’s mother, as she does in most situations, pays no attention. She generally is not very involved with her child and would prefer that her husband deal with disciplining Heather. Even when Heather behaves well, her mother rarely hugs her or expresses approval of Heather or her behavior (Siegler et al., 471).





Diana Baumrind’s groundbreaking work has helped many parents identify their parental styles and adjust accordingly for the betterment of their children. However, her ideas were developed in 1973, three decades ago and with time things change and new ideas are created; parenting styles are no exception. Helicopter, instinctive, gentle, free range, faith-based, and the American dreamer parenting are all modern styles that have sprung up in addition to Baumrind’s parental styles.


  • Helicopter parenting, as its name suggests, involves the parent’s constant interaction and often interference in their children’s lives. While this type of parenting is used to ensure the safety of their children, it has side effects. “Too much of this style of parenting and children can become dependent on their parents’ money, time and advice past their college years and into their professional careers,” (McGolerick, Parenting Styles of the New Generation)
  • Instinctive Parenting is when parents use their gut to parent. The instinctive parent uses their own personal flavor of parenting, usually influenced by their own style of upbringing. “In other words, as an instinctive parent you’re more likely to teach what you know and parent the way you were parented” (McGolerick, Parenting Styles of the New Generation)
  • Gentle Parenting involves “raising children with kindness and respect, with an emphasis on natural family issues, such as extended breastfeeding” (Cortes, 8 Controversial Styles)
  • Free Range parenting is a hands-off approach to parenting that involves stepping back and giving your children great autonomy and freedom, along with its responsibilities.
  • Faith-based parenting is a type of style in which parents rely on their religious teachings and parent based on moralities.
  • American Dreamer parenting involves being optimistic about your children’s opportunities and schooling. Parents in this group “tend to share their emotions with their children, and are likely to hope they’ll one day be ‘best friends’ with their adult kids” (Krueger, Parenting Styles in U.S.).

In our search of different parenting styles, we came across the same styles under different names. Although some of these modern parenting styles seem different, such as the faith-based parenting, they all reflect and build off of Baumrind’s four parenting styles. Furthermore some of these styles should not even be called a type of parenting. Our critiques and comments are as follows:


  • The helicopter style of parenting seems to be a type of authoritative parenting, in which parents actively interfere with their children’s lives. However, I disagree with the article’s critique of the style; unless the children have developed an insecure/resistant type of attachment, the clinginess aspect should not develop.
  • Instinctive parenting should not be classified as another style.  Developmental concepts have shown that most parents will parent similar to how they parent and develop attachment types with their children similar to the type they had with their own parents. Therefore, a style of parenting based on something most parents do habitually is not needed.
  • Gentle and American Dreamer parenting both seem to fall under authoritative with a greater emphasis on responsiveness than demandingness. Both of these styles emphasize emotion and sensitivity to children.
  • Free Range parenting appears to be a less extreme version of rejecting-neglecting parenting.

What the lack of ingenuity says is that Baumrind’s styles were revolutionary. They are so great at representing modern parents today that, the so-called “new modern parenting styles” are either renamed Baumrind’s parenting styles or are heavily influenced by them. Is there a lack development since Baumrind’s era? Perhaps. However, this lack of development or difference can only be attributed to how developed Baumrind’s ideas were at the time.

In conclusion, the simplicity of the Baumrind’s two measures of parenting styles, responsiveness and demandingness, are the ideal factors for struggling parents to consider.  They are not only at the core of Baumrind’s traditional styles, but they are also the basis for the more modern styles discussed in the media today.  One cannot expect to find a “secret” to good parenting; however, parents who strive to be both responsive and demanding, albeit in a supportive manner, will have a solid foundation for their children’s development.

Works Cited

Cortes, Denise. “8 Controversial Parenting Styles.” BabyCenter Blog. N.p., 17 Aug. 2012. Web.18 Apr. 2014.

Krueger, Megan. “Researchers Identify Four New Parenting Styles in U.S.” Featured Articles. N.p., 26dec Dec. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

McGolerick, Elizabeth W. “5 Parenting Styles for a New Generation.” Parenting RSS. N.p., 13 Sept. 2011. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.

Siegler, Robert S., Judy S. DeLoache, and Nancy Eisenberg. How Children Develop. New York:Worth, 2006. Print.


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