Our Family Is Our Legacy

Our Family Is Our Legacy

By Raymond Shipley

Being a good parent is a goal worthy of every effort. Developing that golden relationship with one's children is paramount; however, discipline is a subject often overlooked despite having serious consequences. The type of discipline a parent uses on their children has dramatic effects on development, including their mood and temperament. Of the four parenting styles (authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved) which has the highest likelihood of developing well rounded and adjusted adults?


Authoritarian parenting is where a parent establishes rules and demands that children obey them without question. Rather than initiate problem-solving challenges or obstacles, the parents expect commands will be adhered to without exception. In the event the child challenges said rules or asks for justification, the answer is most often, "Because I said so." Punishments are used for discipline rather than consequences. It should go without saying this style of parenting has certain ramifications.

The children of authoritarian parents typically grow up to be rule and law abiding citizens. The concept of obeying rules is ingrained; however, self-esteem issues are often developed as a side-effect. These children often become hostile or aggressive, focusing much energy on being angry at their parents for past punishments rather than having learned how to make decisions and use problem solving.


Authoritative parents differ from authoritarian parents in that rules are expected to be obeyed, however, there are exceptions allowed. Children are given the reasons for the rules and parents are willing to consider a child's feelings when setting limits. Likewise, age appropriate autonomy is used to develop independence and capitalize on the problem solving skills planted early in life. Using consequences rather than punishments, authoritative parents are likely to use positive consequences to reinforce good behavior. Often a rewards system is set in place and praise for good acts and deeds are employed.

The results of this style of parenting typically results in happy and successful adults later in life. Having cultivated good decision making rather than mere obedience, these children most often grow up to follow suit in such decision making and tend to be better at evaluating safety risks on their own. Authoritative parenting is the most likely parenting style to lead to responsible adults who feel comfortable expressing their opinions and leading full lives.


Parents that tend to be lenient and not offer much discipline are permissive parents. Offering few consequences for bad behavior, these parents are most likely to use the excuse "kids will be kids", and only step in when a serious problem arises. Permissive parents have a tendency to attempt to be a friend to their children rather than a parent, cultivating a confusion in the child concerning authority. They tend to encourage conversation with children but seldom discourage bad behavior.

The results of permissive parenting are far from desirable. Kids who have permissive parents tend to struggle academically and exhibit more behavioral problems as a result of lack of respect for rules and authority. Moreover, low self-esteem and depression are often reported.


The uninvolved parent is the neglectful parent. Often they fail to meet children's basic needs and expect the children to raise themselves. Substance abuse and mental health issues are often the case, but a general lack in knowledge about parenting and child development, or feeling of being overwhelmed by life, is also often the cause. Uninvolved parents tend to have few, if any, rules or expectations, and tend to not know what their children are even doing. 

This style of parenting leads to lack of self-esteem and poor academic performance. Frequent behavioral issues and a general depression is often associated with this style of parenting as well.

What Sort of Parent Should I Be?

Most parents don't fit a single category of parenting style exclusively, and are often a blend. However, it is imperative that, as a parent, the child's needs supersede one's own and every effort need be made to develop children to their full potential. It has already been said on this site that authoritative parenting has the greatest likelihood of producing well rounded and upstanding adults, and this style should always be strived for. Just as we represent our parents and ancestry, our children are a reflection of ourselves and the family line passed down from generation to generation. Our family is our legacy, so don't let them down. It is a worthy goal to achieve success.


Plotnik, R & Kouyoumdjian, H. (2010). Introduction to Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

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