What is your parenting style?

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Government of SA - What is your parenting style?

Parents are the most important influence in children’s lives. The relationships we have with our children, the values we give them and the example we set have more impact that things like how much money we have or where we live. While there are many different parenting styles, children benefit when parents are warm and loving and provide clear guidance and support. Understanding more about parenting styles and how they affect children can help you work out the kind of parent you want to be.Photo of a mother and daughters

Being a parent

Raising children can bring great joy as you watch them grow and develop and become their own unique person. There can be challenges too and most families find that parenting is a journey of ups and downs. It can help to remember that:

What influences your parenting?

Our ideas about parenting come from things such as how we were brought up, our life experiences, our culture and religion and what we have read or seen others do. You may have had positive experiences as a child and want to do things the same way your parents did, or you might want to do things differently.


Our parenting is also influenced by our values, whether we realise it or not. We might do things a certain way because of our values — the deepest desires about life that drive us. You might:

You might decide that in your family it is important to:

Parenting together

Parenting will be easier if you work with your child’s other parent, whether you live together or not. Talk about what is important to you both and for your family. As time goes on you can think about whether your parenting matches your values. If you value respect for others and then yell at your children or each other, you might ask whether you are living by your values.

Children benefit when parents work together in their parenting.

Parenting style

Studies show that there are four broad parenting styles. Parents may use a mix of these but tend to use one the most. The styles and what they mean for children are below.

Authoritarian parents:

Children raised this way may be quite obedient. They know the rules but may become defiant or aggressive. They may depend on others to make decisions and be less likely to take on responsibilities or solve problems. Parents can have high expectations of children’s learning but may not provide the support children need.

Permissive parents:

Children may grow up feeling loved but insecure due to the lack of boundaries. They don’t learn appropriate behaviour and to be responsible. They may lack self-discipline, have poor social skills and be too self-involved. Parents may not provide the structure and focus that children need to do well at school.

Disengaged parents:

Children who grow up with disengaged parents are less likely to feel loved and can miss out on the guidance and support they need. They may be socially withdrawn, lack social skills and have problem behaviour. They can feel anxious and stressed from lack of support. Parents may not have high expectations of their children achieving or event attending school.

Supportive parents:

Children who grow up with supportive parents are likely to be more emotionally mature, have better social skills and self-confidence and feel greater happiness and wellbeing. They are supported to do well at school and encouraged to try their best and achieve.

Supportive parenting works best for children. Parents are warm and loving and provide clear guidance and support.

Considering your parenting style

When reflecting on your parenting and how much you use the supportive style, you could ask yourself:

Being a supportive parent

These are some of the ways you can use the supportive parenting style.

Build your connection

Talk and listen

Inspire achievement

Guide and support

Be a positive role model

Looking for more information

ParentLink - for other parenting guides, online parenting information:

Child and Family Centres - for parenting information and support

Raising Children’s Network - covering topics for parenting newborns to teens

This guide’s content was produced by Parenting SA.

© Department of Education and Child Development, Government of South Australia. Reproduced with permission and adapted by the ACT Government to reflect Australian Capital Territory laws (11/17).

Important: This information is not intended to replace advice from a qualified practitioner.

Published by ParentLink, Community Services Directorate, GPO Box 158, Canberra ACT 2601, email parentlink@act.gov.au, telephone 13 34 27.
ACT Government Publication No. 17/0608 (December 2017).

The text for this topic is copyright Department of Health, Government of South Australia.