Neglectful parenting style

Pros and Cons, Effects, Examples, More

No two parents are alike, so it probably comes as no surprise that there are a ton of different parenting styles. Not sure what yours is yet? Don’t worry. Some people enter parenthood knowing exactly how they’ll raise their children. But sometimes a parenting style evolves on its own.

Often, parenting styles are placed into four main categories:

  • authoritarian
  • authoritative
  • permissive
  • uninvolved

Among the four, uninvolved parenting is the newest to be categorized — but that doesn’t mean it’s new. It’s an interesting style because it involves a lot less hand-holding compared to other parenting styles.

Uninvolved parenting — also called neglectful parenting, which obviously carries more negative connotations — is a style of parenting where parents don’t respond to their child’s needs or desires beyond the basics of food, clothing, and shelter.

These children receive little guidance, discipline, and nurturing from their parents. And oftentimes kids are left to raise themselves and make decisions — big and small — on their own.

It’s a controversial parenting style, and because of this, it’s also easy to pass judgment on these parents. But whether you’re an uninvolved parent or you know someone who is, it’s important to remember that this parenting style isn’t always intentional.

The reasons why some parents end up raising their kids this way varies — more on this later. For now, let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of uninvolved parenting and explore how this type of parenting can affect children in the long run.

Many parents can identify with being stressed, overworked, and tired. You know what we mean: when things get out of control, you might brush off your child for a few minutes of quiet and solitude.

As guilty as you might feel afterwards, these moments aren’t characteristic of uninvolved parenting. Uninvolved parenting isn’t just a moment of preoccupation with one’s self. Rather, it’s an ongoing pattern of emotional distance between parent and child.

Signs of an uninvolved parent include the following:

1. Focus on your own problems and desires

Whether it’s work, a social life apart from the kids, or other interests or problems, uninvolved parents are preoccupied with their own affairs — so much so that they’re unresponsive to the needs of their children, and make little time for them.

Everything else comes before the kids. And in some instances, parents might outright neglect or reject their children.

Again, this isn’t always a matter of choosing a night at the club over family game night. Sometimes, there are issues at play that seem outside of a parent’s control.

2. Lack of an emotional attachment

An emotional connection between parent and child comes naturally for many people. But in the case of uninvolved parenting, this bond isn’t instinctual or automatic. The parent feels a disconnect, which severely limits the amount of affection and nurturing they extend to their child.

3. Lack of interest in child’s activities

Because of a lack of affection, uninvolved parents aren’t interested in their child’s school work, activities, or events. They might skip their sports games or fail to show up for PTA meetings.

4. No set rules or expectations for behavior

Uninvolved parents typically lack a discipline style. So unless a child’s behavior affects them, these parents don’t usually offer any type of correction. They allow the child to act how they want. And these parents don’t get upset when their child performs poorly in school or with other activities.

Children require love, attention, and encouragement to thrive. So it’s no surprise that uninvolved parenting can have a negative effect on a child.

It’s true that kids with uninvolved parents do tend to learn self-reliance and how to take care of their basic needs at an early age. Still, the drawbacks of this parenting style outweigh the good.

One major disadvantage of uninvolved parenting is that these children don’t develop an emotional connection with their uninvolved parent. A lack of affection and attention at a young age can lead to low self-esteem or emotional neediness in other relationships.

Having an uninvolved parent may even affect a child’s social skills. Noted in background information for this small 2017 study, some children of uninvolved parents may have difficulties with social interactions outside the home because uninvolved parents rarely communicate or engage their children.

The study itself, done in Ghana, Africa, was focused on academic performances of 317 students in homes with varying parenting styles. It concluded that students in authoritarian homes perform better academically than children of other parenting styles.

Of note, this small study may not be broadly applicable, as parenting styles in different cultures may lead to different outcomes. Still, children of neglectful parents do have more challenges regardless of where they are.

Children of uninvolved parents may also lack coping skills. In a 2007 study, researchers evaluated how different parenting styles affected homesickness in 670 first-year college students between the ages of 16 and 25.

The study found at those raised by authoritative and permissive parents experienced more homesickness than those raised by authoritarian and uninvolved parents. But while the two former groups felt more homesickness, they didn’t express it as much because they had stronger coping skills.

Yet, the group raised by authoritarian and uninvolved parents who felt less homesickness had a harder time coping with their feelings. This suggests that being raised in a loving and nurturing environment (or not) affects how young people adjust to life away from home.

When a child grows up with an emotional detachment from their parent, they may repeat this parenting style with their own kids. And as a result, they may have the same poor relationship with their own children.

Uninvolved parenting comes in many forms, depending on the age of a child.

Take an infant, for example. While some parents take every opportunity to nurture and offer affection, an uninvolved parent may feel disengaged or detached from their baby.

They may have no interest in holding, feeding, or playing with the baby. And when given the opportunity, they might give the baby to their partner or a grandparent.

Just to be clear, feeling initial detachment can be a short-term sign of postpartum depression rather than a philosophical, life-long parenting choice or style. That’s why it’s important to see your health care provider for treatment if you have postpartum depression.

But in the absence of this condition, there are other factors at play. For example, a parent may feel disconnected if they didn’t have a bond with their own parents.

In the case of a young child, an uninvolved parent may show little interest in artwork their young child creates, or they may ignore the child as they excitably talk about their day.

They may also fail to create reasonable limits such as bedtimes. This is in contrast with an authoritative parent, who listens to their child and encourages open communication, but also sets limits when appropriate.

With an older child, an uninvolved parent may not impose any consequences, or even react or care, if the child skips school or brings home a bad report card. This is different from an authoritarian parent, who is strict and will punish a child that steps out of line.

It’s important to note, again, that uninvolved parenting isn’t usually a conscious choice. It comes about for different reasons. It can happen when a parent becomes too involved with work and finds little time or energy to focus on their child. This can cause a disconnect that strains their relationship, where they become alienated from one another.

Sometimes, though, this style develops when a person has been raised by neglectful parents themselves, or when a parent deals with mental health issues that prevent forming any type of emotional attachment. If so, this parent may also have difficulty bonding with their spouse and others.

Regardless of the underlying reasons, it is possible to change a parenting style if you notice characteristics of uninvolved parenting in yourself.

It might help to seek counseling to deal with any mental health problems, past abuse, or other issues that prevent establishing an emotional bond with your child. This isn’t something that will happen overnight, so be patient.

If you’re interested in developing that bond with your child, the desire itself is a great first step. Talk to your healthcare provider about what you can do to add healthy nurturing to your family dynamic, and know that you’re on your way to being the parent your child needs.

Uninvolved Parenting - Why It's The Worst Parenting Style

| Four Baumrind Parenting Styles | Characteristics | Causes | Effects | Free-Range Parenting Style | Are Busy Parents Uninvolved |

What Is Uninvolved Parenting (Neglectful Parenting)

Uninvolved parenting is a parenting style characterized by low responsiveness and low demandingness.

These neglectful parents are uninvolved in their child’s life. They do not meet their child’s needs, whether it’s basic or emotional needs. They also do not set boundaries or discipline their children.

Children of uninvolved parents receive little nurturing or guidance from their parents. They are practically left to raise themselves. These kids fare the worst among the four Baumrind parenting styles.

The Four Baumrind Parenting Styles

In the 1960s, Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley, identified three different types of parenting styles: authoritative parenting style, authoritarian parenting and permissive parenting.

In 1983, Maccoby and Martin added a fourth type to the framework: uninvolved or neglectful parenting style​1​.

These 4 parenting styles are categorized based on two dimensions: responsiveness and demandingness.

Characteristics of Uninvolved Parenting Style

Uninvolved parents are neither responsive nor demanding.

Uninvolved parenting is indefferent parenting.

If permissive parents are at one end of the responsive spectrum, then neglectful parents occupy the other end.

In terms of demands, authoritarian parents who have high expectations for their children to meet are the opposite of uninvolved parents.

Here are some neglectful parenting examples:

  • Show no warmth or affection towards their children.
  • Act in an indifferent and distant way. They do not help or take care of their children’s basic needs.
  • Do not provide emotional support, such as belonging and encouragement​2​.
  • Do not set rules, boundaries or expectations on their children’s behavior. Also do not monitor or supervise them.
  • Do not show interest in their child’s school work, activities or performance.
  • Do not involve themselves in their children’s lives overall.
  • Intergenerational transmission of neglect parenting style – Research shows that neglected children will grow up 2.6 times more likely to become neglectful to their own children, and twice as likely to be physically abusive​3​.

Causes of Uninvolved Parenting

Neglectful parents often come from dysfunctional families and received neglectful or uninvolved parenting themselves when they were growing up.

Uninvolved parents tend to have mental health issues of their own, such as depression, and alcoholism.

Another common cause is a history of substance abuse problems in the family.

Researchers have found that many addicted parents have been raised by addicted parents themselves (up to 83%) and neglected during childhood (up to 55%)​4​.

Addicted parents who have antisocial personality characteristics and choose mates who are predisposed to substance abuse or other mental health problems are at an even higher risk of becoming neglectful.

Harmful Effects of Uninvolved Parenting Style

Uninvolved parenting is the worst style of parenting among the four types because children raised with this parenting style tend to fare the worse.

Neglectful parenting can affect a child’s well being and outcomes in development severely​5​. It can have the following adverse effects in a young child:

  • more impulsive and less self-control​6​
  • underachieve in school​7,8​
  • fewer emotional regulation skills​9​
  • lack social skills
  • low self-esteem​10​
  • increased chance of mood disorders such as depression​11​
  • tend to develop Borderline Personality Disorder​12​
  • suffer higher risk for substance abuse. Neglected children of substance-abused parents are 4-10 times more likely to develop substance abuse themselves​4​.

Uninvolved Parenting Is Not The Same As Free-Range Parenting

Free-range parenting is a term created in recent years to describe parents who give children freedom to go to places such as the playground without adult supervision.

Free-range parenting is not the same as uninvolved parenting.

“Free-range” only describes one aspect in parenting, which is: does the parent supervise their child when they’re outside of the house or not. It doesn’t say anything about whether the parent is warm and responsive to the child’s needs.

A free-range parent can give their child a lot of freedom in going out, but is still warm and responsive. They can also have high expectation of their child’s behavior, such as having good conduct and high school performance.

Busy Parents Are Not Necessarily Uninvolved Parents

Busy parents may not be neglectful parents.

Some parents who hold highly demanding jobs inevitably have less time left for their kids. But they may still be warm and caring. They can still show interest in their children’s lives and create emotional connections when they are spending time together, even if it’s not that frequent.

When it comes to building a healthy parent child relationship, quality is more important than quantity.

Neglectful parenting is a harmful parenting style. Uninvolved parents are uncaring parents who have no interest in their children’s welfare.

They are not just busy parents.

Busy parents who lack involvement because they don’t care are uninvolved parents.

But busy parents who lack time for involvement are just parents who are not good at time management.

In this situation, not being able to get involved in a child’s life is not the same as not wanting to get involved in a child’s life.

Final Thoughts on Uninvolved Parenting

Psychologists and experts agree that kids with an uninvolved or neglectful parent generally have the most negative outcomes. A neglectful mother is not simply a parent who gives a child more freedom or less face-time. Negligent parents neglect their other duties as parents, too.


  1. 1.

    Huver RME, Otten R, de Vries H, Engels RCME. Personality and parenting style in parents of adolescents. Journal of Adolescence. Published online June 2010:395-402. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2009.07.012

  2. 2.

    Berzenski SR. Distinct emotion regulation skills explain psychopathology and problems in social relationships following childhood emotional abuse and neglect. Dev Psychopathol. Published online March 22, 2018:483-496. doi:10.1017/s0954579418000020

  3. 3.

    Kim J. Type-specific intergenerational transmission of neglectful and physically abusive parenting behaviors among young parents. Children and Youth Services Review. Published online July 2009:761-767. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2009.02.002

  4. 4.

    Dunn MG, Tarter RE, Mezzich AC, Vanyukov M, Kirillova G. Origins and consequences of child neglect in substance abuse families. Clinical Psychology Review. Published online 2002:1063 – 1090.

  5. 5.

    Trickett PK, McBride-Chang C. The Developmental Impact of Different Forms of Child Abuse and Neglect. Developmental Review. Published online September 1995:311-337. doi:10.1006/drev.1995.1012

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    AUNOLA K, STATTIN H, NURMI J-E. Parenting styles and adolescents’ achievement strategies. Journal of Adolescence. Published online April 2000:205-222. doi:10.1006/jado.2000.0308

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    BOON HJ. Low- and high-achieving Australian secondary school students: Their parenting, motivations and academic achievement. Australian Psychologist. Published online September 2007:212-225. doi:10.1080/00050060701405584

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    Pinquart M. Associations of Parenting Styles and Dimensions with Academic Achievement in Children and Adolescents: A Meta-analysis. Educ Psychol Rev. Published online September 7, 2015:475-493. doi:10.1007/s10648-015-9338-y

  9. 9.

    Shipman K, Edwards A, Brown A, Swisher L, Jennings E. Managing emotion in a maltreating context: A pilot study examining child neglect. Child Abuse & Neglect. Published online September 2005:1015-1029. doi:10. 1016/j.chiabu.2005.01.006

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    Darling N. Parenting Style and Its Correlates. ERIC Digest; 1999.

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    Bernet CZ, Stein MB. Relationship of childhood maltreatment to the onset and course of major depression in adulthood. Depress Anxiety. Published online 1999:169-174. doi:


    Taillieu TL, Brownridge DA, Sareen J, Afifi TO. Childhood emotional maltreatment and mental disorders: Results from a nationally representative adult sample from the United States. Child Abuse & Neglect. Published online September 2016:1-12. doi:10.1016/j.chiabu.2016.07.005

How to choose your own style of raising a child

At present, the topic of upbringing is very relevant and at the same time complex. Almost from the maternity hospital, the parent is faced with the question of choosing the method of raising children. How to give your baby the best? How to raise him at the same time strong and sensitive, kind and brave? Where is the line between permissiveness and severity? Let's try to figure this out.

Before we analyze parenting styles, let's clarify the concept of parenting.

"Education is the gradual enrichment of the child with knowledge, skills, experience, it is the development of the mind and the formation of attitudes towards good and evil, preparation for the fight against everything that goes against the moral principles accepted in society" V.A. Sukhomlinsky.

Education is when parents and child move together. As the child grows, so do the parents.

No wonder the words "nutrition" and "education" have the same root. Nutrition is like feeding. Education is like feeding. This is an interesting dependency. Why? After all, nutrition is about the body, and education is about character, habits, fate. The wise phrase "Sucked in with mother's milk" does not speak at all about breastfeeding, but about the process of education in general. Education - the basis is "nutrition". What you feed, so the child will live. Thus, parents with their actions, deeds, examples "nourish" the baby, fill his soul. And it depends on the parent what kind of physical health and mental health the future adult will have.

The most important parameter of family education is its style, that is, the system of techniques and the nature of interaction between a parent and a child. Depending on the manner of upbringing "hardness or softness", the style can be authoritarian or democratic with a fan of intermediate options, and the character, behavior, habits, and sometimes the fate of the child depend on what style the parents adhere to.

Parsing styles of parenting

  • Authoritarian (“dictatorship” or “dominance”)
  • Democratic, authoritative style ("collaboration")
  • Liberal (permissive) style
  • Disparaging style
  • How to choose your parenting style?
  • Take the test "Your Parenting Style"

Authoritarian ("diktat" or "dominance")

Basic phrase: "You will do as I say. " Parents, relying on their life experience, strive to subordinate the baby to their influence as much as possible.

Such parents have very high expectations of their children.

They keep the child in strictness, stop any initiative, completely control his behavior. Interests, thoughts and desires are subject to control (with whom to be friends, what to wear, what to say, where to study, etc.).

Suppressing his independence, parents do not explain to the child why he should act in this way and not otherwise. And they don't do it because they don't want to explain. And because they themselves do not really know why. Parents see their children as wax and clay, from which they try to "sculpt a personality." If a child shows resistance, then, as a rule, he is punished, thus knocking out his willfulness and initiative.

What are the implications of this style?

His personality, will, desires, thoughts, experience, needs, experiences are suppressed. Unquestioning obedience to parents causes the child to feel fear, guilt and shame. These negative emotions kill initiative, paralyze activity, discourage the ability to think and make decisions independently. Pressure causes resistance in children, which accumulates and develops into hostility towards others, into protest, rebellion and aggression. The total control of adolescents gives rise to conflicts and scandals, the authority of the parent is questioned, they dream of freedom and independence, they often run away from home, get into "bad" companies and start using PAS. And some children, growing up, create their families in the image and likeness , keep wives, husbands, children in "hedgehogs"

Authoritarian relationships cut off intimacy with children, resulting in rarely a feeling of affection. It is difficult for such children to take responsibility for their own lives, the lives of other people, they get used to it from childhood that everything is decided for them.

Democratic, authoritative style ("collaboration")

Basic phrase: "I care and will give you the freedom you deserve, but for your safety, you will do as I say. " The most prosperous style of parenting, where children are brought up in a warm and friendly atmosphere. As a result, harmonious, independent and not isolated from society people grow up. Parents are aware of their important role in shaping the personality of the child, but also recognize the right of the child to self-development. The child is a full participant in the dialogue, he is heard and listened to.

The leading type of relationship is cooperation “together, side by side”. Cooperation contributes to the development of the child's personal growth.

Encourages independence in solving problems and taking responsibility for one's own actions. It is a balanced relationship where parent and child accept and understand each other. Children value both obedience and independence. In such a family there is discipline, children respect and reckon with the opinion of the parent, rules of behavior and punishment are discussed with the child. Children are actively involved in the discussion of family problems, and their opinion is necessarily taken into account when making decisions. Control in such families is based on reasonable care, where children hear the parent, and the parent of the child, and as a result, the family always has warm and friendly relations.

The democratic style of education contributes to the development of goodwill, activity, purposefulness, initiative, determination and responsibility in children. Children learn the ability to get things done, to help others, to listen to the opinions of others, but at the same time defend their own point of view. They have sufficient self-esteem, they know how to set goals and achieve them. In the eyes of children, parents are role models.

Liberal (permissive) style

Basic phrase: "I trust you and I hope you do the right thing." With this parenting style, children are practically devoid of parental guidance, parents almost do not limit the behavior of children. The parent does not try to crush him with his authority, seeking respect, but deliberately puts himself on the same level with the child and at the same time gives him complete freedom. Speaking about their relationship with children, they use the word friendship: "We are friends."

Rules of conduct, real help, no prohibitions. The parent restrains his feelings and emotions if the child's behavior unbalances him and makes him angry. The relationship between parent and child is completely open, there are no taboo topics. The parent tries to satisfy all the children's needs, does not indicate to the child with whom to be friends, what to wear, where to study.

If a child believes that he does not need knowledge, he has the right not to attend school. The level of control in such families is low, but the relationship is warm and friendly. The parent mistakenly believes that such upbringing forms independence and responsibility. The natural weakness of the parent's temperament, the inability to demand and lead leads to a liberal style of education. Such parents do not know how or do not want to raise a child, relieve themselves of responsibility for the result.

The main phrase of such parents: "Do what you think is right", "But he is still a child." As a result of such upbringing, children are left to their own devices. The absence of any framework and boundaries gives the child a wrong idea about the picture of the world. Faced with prohibitions that are unpleasant for themselves, the child is prone to disobedience and aggression. In the presence of outsiders, they can behave impulsively and inadequately. At the exit, adults get a teenager with a complete lack of personal guidelines, confident in their uniqueness and the uselessness of adult influence. There is a danger of being drawn into bad company and under bad influence.

The desire to give a child freedom is commendable, but he simply needs a wise helper and authority.

Disparaging style

Basic phrase: "Children are children and must learn from their mistakes." This parenting style is a lack of parenting. Parents completely neglect their children. All education comes down only to providing the basic needs of the child's life. They are often absent or busy with their own affairs and do not interfere in the lives of children in any way. Parents are loaded with work, poverty, wealth, alcoholism, drug addiction, illness, divorce, or arrange their personal lives. In such a family, the child does not have the opportunity to form close relationships. They grow up disobedient and irresponsible, they very often show signs of psychological stress.

You should not regard the definition of "parenting style" as a term that must be strictly observed. Parenting styles were born by parents, and scientists only classified the approaches practiced in families and gave them a name. Each of the above styles is described on the basis of general characteristics and in reality in its "pure form" is extremely rare.

In addition, each of the listed parenting styles is described only on the basis of the most general characteristics. In fact, "pure" parenting styles are very rare. More often than not, parents exhibit features that belong to two or more parenting styles at the same time. Understanding Parenting Styles

How to choose your parenting style?

Listen to your heart, take the best of different styles and put them into practice. One way or another, we are responsible for our children, while they have not yet become adults. And it depends on us what we put in them and what they will be.

Permissive parenting style: pros, cons, long-term effects

Permissive parenting is a softer parenting style than authoritative parenting. Is permissive parenting the best for your children?

“It's 5:00 pm and your 6 year old is asking for cookies. She had a bite to eat an hour ago, and dinner is boiling on the stove. You know that sugar is probably not what she needs right now. But you don't want her to be hungry even if dinner is ready in 15 minutes. So you go ahead and give her a cookie."

If you tend to say yes to most of your child's requests, you may have a permissive parenting style.

What is your parenting style?

There are three types of parenting styles identified by developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind. Each parenting style is determined by your level of demandingness and level of responsiveness.

Demanding refers to your expectations of your child.

Responsiveness refers to how sensitive you are to your child's emotional experience.

Different parenting styles

  1. Indulgent parenting style: Low demanding, high responsive
  2. Authoritarian parenting style: high demands, low responsiveness
  3. Authoritative parenting style: low demands, high responsiveness

In addition, there is a neglectful parenting style - low demands, low responsiveness, which in fact is not a parenting style at all, but rather an uninvolved parenting.

What is permissive education?

Permissive parents don't ask their children much, but they will do almost anything their children ask.

Examples of permissive parenting

  • For dinner, only children's favorite foods are served, even if the food is unhealthy or adults do not like to eat it.
  • No bedtime or curfew
  • Buying a toy every time a child asks for one
  • Inconsistent enforcement of rules, such as the rule that screen time ends at 8:30 but then allows the child to stay on their devices longer.

Pros and cons of permissive parenting

Parents who grew up with overly strict parents or whose parents couldn't afford many luxuries when they were growing up tend to gravitate towards a permissive parenting style.

Often parents adopt this approach because they feel it is best for parent-child relationships. They want their children to be happy. Either they just don't know how to say no, or it's much easier to just say yes.

Indulgent parenting can make your child happy in the moment. It can also make your life easier at the moment. But the big effects of permissive parenting are probably not worth it.


  • It's nice to give a child what he wants
  • You meet (some of) your child's needs
  • You don't have to put in so much effort when you're all-permissive.


  • Difficulty respecting authority figures such as teachers or coaches.
  • May struggle with academic achievement
  • Behavioral problems may develop.
  • Low self-esteem or other mental health problems in adolescence

The negative consequences of permissive parenting are not only that children will be "spoiled" or "will not take "no" for an answer." The truth is that children of permissive parents crave structure in their lives. All children thrive when the adults responsible for them set and maintain clear boundaries.

Children feel safe when they know their caregivers mean what they say. In fact, they often break the rules just to test the limits. Consistency on the part of an adult makes them feel secure. Inconsistency and lack of boundaries lead to anxiety because children don't trust adults to keep them safe.

Why authoritarian parenting is not the answer

While permissive parenting expects too little from the child, its downside, authoritarian parenting, expects too much. Authoritarian parents demand a lot from their children, but they are rigid and inflexible.

An authoritarian parent can:

  • Set your bedtime to 8:00 and don't deviate from that rule, even on New Year's or other holidays to see fireworks.
  • Say "because I said so" when asked about the reason behind rules
  • Use punishments that make the child feel ashamed, such as isolating or yelling at the child
  • Don't be open to hearing the children's "side of history"

Authoritarian parents set firm limits, but they are not open to the possibility of human error. They may not offer enough warmth or understanding in their efforts to stick to the rules. With this approach, children may be afraid of their parents or less willing to ask for their help.

Authoritative Parenting: Firm and Loving

When Baumrind wrote about different types of parenting styles, she did not see them as equals. She made it clear that authoritative parenting is the preferred approach.

Authoritative parents have high expectations and are warm and responsive to their children's needs. Their rules are age appropriate and realistic, and they are applied consistently.

At the same time, these parents communicate emotionally with their children. They use a kind tone of voice and explain the reasons behind their rules. They know when to give a little wiggle room.

Authoritative parents can: