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The Impact of Extreme Parenting Styles

by Stephen Maughan, studioD

During her extensive research on parenting, developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind recognized three types of extreme parenting styles: authoritarian, permissive and authoritative. A fourth parenting style -- uninvolved -- was later added by psychologists. These parenting styles, which have been studied extensively, are widely acknowledged in the field of psychology. Baumrind's research explored extreme parenting styles, which generally fall under the authoritarian category, but elements can also be found in permissive and uninvolved. Extreme parenting can damage a child's social and mental well-being and can cause problems in adulthood.

Authoritarian Style

Parents who raise their children with an authoritarian style tend to have a strict set of rules which children are expected to follow without question. A 2005 article entitled "What Kind of Parent Are You?" written by Dr. Paul Martin, a science writer and former behavioral therapist with Cambridge University, shows that extreme parenting can result in forms of emotional and/or physical abuse, which can, in turn, lead to psychological damage. A 2009 study "Remembered Parenting Styles and Adjustment in Middle and Late Adulthood" published in "The Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences," revealed that children raised under extreme parenting conditions exhibited a host of problems including higher rates of depression in adulthood, than children raised with other parenting styles.

Permissive Style

Parents who follow this parenting style do not punish or discipline, but cater to their child's every need. In its extreme, parents feel that parenting is about friendship with their children, and so will avoid any confrontation. The impact of this parenting style, also known as indulgent parenting, can be damaging as children do not have clear boundaries or rules. According to a 2007 study called "Impact of Parenting Styles and Locus of Control on Emerging Adults' Psychosocial Success" published in the "Journal of Education and Human Development," these children tend to perform lower academically and exhibit more behavioral problems in an education setting than do their peers.

Uninvolved Style

The third type of extreme parenting is uninvolved parenting, where parents take very little interest in their children. This can lead to child neglect in extreme cases. As the parents set no boundaries and show little interest in their children's lives, their children seek attention in other areas. The 2009 study "Remembered Parenting Styles and Adjustment in Middle and Late Adulthood" published in "The Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences" found that one effect for children brought up with this style was a higher rate of substance abuse than children raised with different parenting styles.


Of the four parenting styles, it is generally accepted that authoritative is the best. Here, parents have boundaries and rules for their children, but show support and encouragement. Although not an extreme style, it is the one which, according to Dr. Martin, most parents would like to be but not all are. He says children of authoritative parents are happier because it is a balanced style of parenting, and because parents love and accept their children as individuals, instead of what they want their children to be or to achieve.

About the Author

Stephen Maughan is a journalist based in Sussex, England. He has written for a variety of lifestyle and family magazines, including "Readers' Digest," "Playground," "Fine Books," "Dog's Today" and "Modern Mum." Maughan holds a postgraduate certificate in journalism from the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

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