Understanding Parenting Styles & Navigating Parenting As Marriage Partners

Most people would say that they want to raise responsible children. However, they may or may not do that based on their parenting style. There are technically three different parenting styles that we need to look at when we talk about parenting our children.

Parenting is difficult and does not come with a manual. Often we have made decisions about what our parenting will look like based on our own experiences growing up. However, the bottom line is we will parent the way we were parented.

We may vow that we will never ever do what our parents did or didn’t do. But, unless we are intentional about making changes, we will find ourselves doing the very same things that our parents did as we parent our children.

Let’s take a look at four different parenting styles.


This style of parenting says, “I am in control and you will listen to me and do as I say no matter what!” The parent who is in control often is like a policeman. There are rules set and you better follow them, or else!

Often that parent will not allow for the children to express any kind of emotion. The only allowable emotion is shown by that controlling parent. No one else is allowed to display any emotion at all. Children who cry are often told, “Keep it up and I will give you something to cry about!”

This controlling parent may yell and scream at the children about seemingly small issues such as book bags left out or shoes worn in the house or clothes not neatly put away or hung up. This parent will often expect perfection from children in the form of grades, manners, doing chores, etc. “Children are to be seen and not heard!”

Most everyone in the family walks on eggshells around this person and hopes and prays they won’t have an ugly encounter with him/her.


This style of parenting is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the authoritarian parenting. This style of parenting leaves the children on their own to basically parent themselves.

Often parents who have been the victims of authoritarianism decide they will let their children choose everything for themselves. There is no parental control at all. Children come and go as they please. There are no limits set for them at all.

They can be as messy or as neat as they wish. They are allowed to speak disrespectfully to their parents, to each other, to their friends, and to other adults. They believe they are entitled to get whatever they desire when they desire it and that no one has the right to deny them.


This type of parenting is more balanced. Parents recognize and encourage the achievements of their children. They actually place a premium on cooperation. They encourage their children toward excellence but not perfection.

An authoritative parent will let children know that failure is not fatal and that they can actually learn more when something fails. They will expect the best from their children but that best is not being perfect! Children are held accountable for their actions and know that consequences are part of that.

Often parents let reality be the teacher and don’t even need to consequence certain behaviors. Parents lead by example. It is not a “do as I say not as I do” environment. Children are allowed to express themselves and to express emotions appropriately.

Parents put their relationship with their children before the rules. They will spend time talking about issues when it is appropriate. These parents set limits or boundaries for their children knowing that they need them even when they don’t necessarily like them. The parents are still in charge and responsible for the well-being of their children, but they recognize that their children are people too and have emotions and thoughts and ideas.

The parents have the final say in things because children don’t necessarily know what is best for them or the wisest thing to do. Parents allow their children the freedom to make choices and to make mistakes.


There is another style of parenting that has emerged over time and that is helicopter parenting. This type of parenting is somewhere between the authoritarian and permissive styles of parenting. The helicopter parent spends a great deal of time running the children’s lives.

That parent makes all the decisions for the children and continually runs interference for the children so that they do not have to suffer any consequences for behavior and so that they can hopefully be assured of straight A report cards and get into the most prestigious colleges.

This parent is a perfectionist and expects the children to follow suit. This type of parenting also produces children who believe they are entitled to everything without doing the work, who believe that it is ok to be disrespectful and to expect others to do for them always.

Often, children are disillusioned by this type of parenting because they feel they have no say in anything and never learn how to make decisions for themselves. They frequently become totally dependent upon the parent to manage everything for them even when they reach adulthood.

Couples can successfully navigate their marriages as parents by being firm but fair, asking for and giving respect, learning from mistakes that are made, setting limits for their children, and “walking the walk not just talking the talk!”

If you are having difficulty figuring out how to successfully navigate your marriage as parents, please give us a call 630-333-3202. We offer clients a free 15-20 minute consultation to explore what’s happening and see if there are simple solutions you can apply right now. If the issue is deeper, we can discuss what’s possible and how we can help. 

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.