If you’re considering parenting as a result of an unplanned pregnancy, you probably have a great many questions. How will I afford a new baby? What do I need to do before they arrive? I have no idea how to parent a child — how can I prepare?

During your preparation to become a parent, you should consider the different parenting styles available to you — and choose the one that will be best for you, your child and your whole family. The different types of parenting styles result in different relationships between children and parents, and they all have different effects on a child’s development and personality.

Identifying parenting techniques before you even bring a baby home will help you (and your spouse, if applicable) feel better prepared for the parenting journey ahead of you. Parenting is always an experience in which you learn as you go, but having a base understanding of different parenting methods will put you and your partner on the same page about the next 18 years or more.

Parenting Styles: Definitions to Know

If you don’t know anything about parenting styles, know this first: There are generally four different kinds of accepted parenting practices, as defined by experienced psychologists. The four types of parenting vary greatly, but most ways of parenting can fall under one category or another.

While each parent will define their parenting skills in a unique way, here are the child-rearing styles’ definitions to know:

  • Authoritarian Parenting: In which parents are thought of as disciplinarians and use strict discipline with little negotiation
  • Permissive (or Indulgent) Parenting: In which parents mostly let their children do what they want with limited guidance
  • Uninvolved Parenting: In which parents give their children a great deal of freedom and stay out of their way, practically and emotionally
  • Authoritative Parenting: In which parents are reasonable and nurturing and set clear expectations for their children

Understanding these parenting styles definitions is just the start to knowing which parenting practices are best for you moving forward. You can find more detail on these child-rearing styles below. You may also wish to contact a local child psychologist for more information about how to parent in an effective and nurturing way.

Authoritarian Parenting Style

Authoritarian parenting is also often known as “tough love parenting.” It gives parents the ultimate say-so in a way that is highly demanding — but provides little response to children when goals are met. You know the children who say their parents are super strict and don’t listen to them? There’s a good chance their parents follow authoritarian child-upbringing methods.

Often, these parents are cold and aloof to a child’s emotional needs. They may degrade a child and ignore a child’s point of view, rather than being emotionally available and nurturing as parents should be.

It’s clear that these parenting practices aren’t the best for a child. In fact, studies show that children raised by authoritarian parents are less resourceful, less socially-adept and more likely to become involved in bullying. When parents don’t show warmth and nurturing, it negatively affects children involved.

When you’re creating your own plan for parenting and evaluating the various kinds of parenting, it’s advised that you stay away from parenting practices that emphasize authoritarian style. This way, you can build the best relationship possible with your child.

Permissive Parenting Style

When it comes to the different kinds of parenting styles, people can sometimes get permissive and uninvolved parenting confused. One of the determining factors of permissive parenting is letting children do what they want — but also being emotionally available to them.

Parents who utilize permissive types of parenting skills are often seen as their child’s “friend,” not parent. They are happy to be nurturing and warm to their children, but they also may be reluctant to impose limits. In an effort to be seen as a “good” and “likeable” parent, they may go a bit far and do too little.

Children of permissive parenting styles rarely have any responsibilities, and their parents don’t expect them to meet certain standards. Therefore, these children have less self-discipline and a less-developed sense of responsibility than children from authoritative parents (more info on that below).

Permissive parenting styles aren’t always bad, as long as they are combined with appropriate discipline and actual parenting. If you choose to raise a child of an unplanned pregnancy, you must take on the role of parent — not just an older friend who provides shelter and support, which can be tempting if you are very young at the time of your child’s birth.

Uninvolved Parenting Style

On the other hand, uninvolved parents are equally permissive in letting their children do what they want — but these parents do not provide any sort of nurturing or assistance.

Some of these parents may be unaware of exactly how to parent a child, while others may have had no desire to raise a child at all. They haven’t taken the steps to learn about the proper parenting styles, and their child certainly will suffer from it. The parent-child relationship that develops is a passive one, and children often feel unloved by their parents.

If you are unwilling to be a parent, you may be more likely to raise a child in an uninvolved way — which will harm all members of your family. If you are not willing to learn about how to properly parent a child, you may consider placing your child for adoption with parents who are willing to nurture and provide for your child, while also setting expectations and giving discipline to help him or her succeed.

Authoritative Parenting Style

Perhaps the best of the four parenting styles is authoritative parenting, in which parents provide nurturing, emotional support, discipline and guidance during their child’s upbringing. Many studies have shown the benefits of using this type of parenting, and it is now the recommended modern-day parenting style.

Authoritative parenting involves being emotionally available to children and having clear, frequent communication. Children have set expectations, but they also have a say in the goals their parents set — which their parents help them achieve. Children of authoritative parents are more likely to become independent, self-reliant, socially accepted, academically successful and well-behaved.

Overall, if you are choosing to raise a child of an unplanned pregnancy, it’s highly encouraged that you learn more about being the best authoritative parent you can be.

What Types of Parenting Styles are Best For You?

In this article, we’ve listed the four general parenting styles, according to psychology. However, in practice, the way a parent raises their child may not neatly fall into one category or another — and that’s okay.

Many people’s types of parenting combine aspects from several different child-rearing styles. You’ll continually want to evaluate what your style is and how it is affecting your child as they grow up. That way, you can make any adjustments you may need to do what is best for your child and their individual personality.

If you are planning to parent as a result of an unplanned pregnancy, discovering your ideal parenting styles is only one important step. You should also consider other means of preparing, like taking parenting classes and creating a support system for this new addition.

For more information on the various different parenting styles available to you, please contact a psychology professional today.