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I was blown away by all the wonderful comments and positive responses on my last blogpost. I knew you would like the new site! Thank you!

Today, I have an interesting topic on my mind for you…

How many of you said you were never going to say what your parents said to you? More than that, how many of you now say what they used to say to you and now YOU sound just like THEM!! This just goes to show that what parents model STICKS!

There are three types of parents, and who you are as a parent has a lot to do with the way your child responds to you. I’ve talked about this in depth in other books (Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours is a good resource)

Let me give you the summarized version.

Does this sound like you?

“Buford, have you chosen to go to bed yet?”

Do you want to make sure your child never fails? Are you continually doing things for your child that he could do for himself? Are you your child’s best friend at every turn? Do you find it hard or impossible to say no to him? Promising a reward if he does what you ask?

A permissive parent:

-Places the priority on the child, not on his or her spouse.
-Robs the child of self-respect and self-esteem by doing things for her that he child can do for himself
-Provides the child with the “Disneyland” experience; make things as easy as possible-does homework for the child.. etc..
-Invites rebellion with inconsistent parenting

Does this sound like you?

“You go to bed RIGHT NOW!”

Are you always right? Do you bark out orders to your kid and threaten him with warnings if he doesn’t immediately do what you say? Do you tell him how to do life in no uncertain terms?

An authoritarian parent:

-Makes all decision for the child
-Uses reward and punishment to control the child’s behavior
-Sees himself as better than the child
-Runs the home with an iron hand; grants little freedom to the child

Does this sound like you?

“Let me know when you’ve brushed you teeth, and I’ll come in a tuck you in”

Do you ask your children the facts about a situation and what they think about it before you jump to conclusions? Do you give them age-appropriate choices? D o you look out for their welfare, yet allow them to experience the consequences of their behaviors?

An authoritative or responsible parent:

-Gives the child choices and formulates guidelines with him
-Provides the child with decision-making opportunities
-Develops consistent, loving discipline
-Holds the child accountable
-Lets reality be the teacher
-Conveys respect, self-worth, and love to the child and therefore enhances the child’s self-esteem

You as the parent are in the position to leave an indelible mark on your child. And you do it often without even being aware of it! The truth is, both extremes (permissive and authoritarian) will cause children to rebel. What a permissive parent, there are no guidelines, and children flounder. With the authoritarian parent, everything is heavy-handed. The wise parent finds middle ground!

Put it into practice!

Let’s say you are sitting down for dinner, and your child isn’t crazy about your food choice of pork chops.

The permissive parent would say, “Oh, honey, do you want a cheeseburger instead? I’ll get up right now and make one for you!”
The authoritarian parent would say “Eat it! Pork chops are good for you. And you better clean your plate.”
The authoritative parent would say, “I know pork chops aren’t your favorite, but that’s what I made for dinner tonight. If you want to make yourself something else afterward, that’s fine. But thanks for sitting with us at dinner anyway. Dinner as a family is important” The authoritative parent is majoring on the relationship and minoring on everything else!


What parenting style did you see yourself as? Why did you label yourself as you did? Do you follow your own parents’ parenting style? Try to challenge yourself to find the balance… Let me know how you do!

(Like this post?  You would enjoy reading, Have A New Kid By Friday, get it here)


  • Lori Desch says:

    I definitely agree that authoritative gets better results than authoritarian. However, there are times when I feel like there is a little cartoon sitting on my left and right shoulders, telling me to do different things. For instance, when our daughter is still not going to bed and it’s 20 mins. past her bedtime, the little cartoon on one shoulder (authoritative) says, “Well, I guess she’ll just be tired in the morning and she will learn her lesson.” Then the authoritarian cartoon says, “What did I just tell you? You have 2 mins. to get in that bed, or tomorrow night your bedtime is even earlier!” (because guess who has to deal with the whining and grouchiness in the morning!)
    I guess what I’m trying to say, is that even if you choose the best choice you know how, sometimes we still have the tension between what we were maybe raised with, or what our backup behaviors lead us to and what we now know works better. Parenting is never easy, it seems!

    • karen dowbnia says:

      I’v e told my kids that the decision about going to sleep is theirs… unless they are grouchy in the morning…their decisions should not make my life miserable…so if they cant suck it up in the morning, I guess I’ll have no choice but to pick their bedtime for them…this gives them the freedom and stops the fighting…hopefully your child will value a good night’s sleep and how good it feels not to be tired and dragging…but even tired and dragging is not the end of the world, and the kids can learn how to work through that too…life lessons every day!

  • Kristin C. says:

    I’m with Lori! I like to think I’m MOSTLY the authoritative/responsible parent, but if I’m just plain old tired (can I mention here that I’m carrying child #7?), the mamby-pamby parent might come out, or the cranky-poo who just barks orders. Consistency is my biggest challenge. Oh, can I mention here that we homeschool the 6+ kids? SO many opportunities for character development in our house. For the kids, too. ;)

  • Jennifer Mann says:

    I am authoritative most of the time. I have let them experience their consequences to their action such as poor grades, good grades, not as many priviledges or more freedom depending on their choices. However I struggle with my teens lack of motivation to do schoolwork in math to obtain a passing grade. Grandparents think I am mean since I told him the next time I have to pay for him to go to summer school he is pay for it himself( It costs 150.00). He is a junior in high school. We have paid for him to go twice now. I often second guess myself but I really feel strongly that enough is enough because we have 5 kids in all and I feel like financially it takes away from the other kids. Am I being too harsh? Just wondering

    • Kristin C. says:

      Jennifer, I know you really want Dr. Leman’s opinion, but I would say that as long as you KNOW he could do better and is just being “lazy” or underachieving, this sounds like a perfectly fair arrangement. He’ll have to work to pay for his summer school, so lazy goes out the window there. He may seriously reconsider where he wants to invest his effort: on his math during the school year, or into a job to pay for summer school. (The grandparents probably just think he’s struggling with math due to lack of comprehension; make sure they’re not right.) Just another mom’s opinion! Good luck.

    • Pvining002 says:

      Instead of summer school, have you tried getting him a tutor during the school year??

  • Jenni Davis says:

    Honestly, Dr. Leman, I am drowning in my own parents’ style –authoritarian all the way…and I can’t stand it. We have good days as I try to implement the techniques I have read in your books, other days,I am failing miserably. I am a quasi first-born perfectionist. I sometimes wonder if there will ever be the kind of parenting you teach about consistently in my home.,l

  • Great summary of the different parenting styles. Thanks for the helpful reminder.
    Happy blogging!

  • Ashley Z. says:

    I am so glad you did this, I suggest your books and quote you all the time ( to friends and in my blog) but I think with our internet world, a blog post is a great way to show just a little of what is actually in them before people spend the money. I am authoritative, my mom was authoritative, my dad was authoritarian, when I am focusing on what I want to be doing in the day- thats when I get lazy and fall into permissiveness, and when I am in a rush, then i turn into authoritarian. Iv found the best way to stay where I should be, is to be organized and think about having self control myself- so I do not over react. My husband struggles with being authoritarian sometimes, but he has come a long way.

  • Katina says:

    Well the times my daughter has told me she didn’t want to eat something I would feel upset then I would let her get up from the table without eating a thing. I explained to her about wasting food and have taught her about the starving children in other places. Usually when she doesn’t want to eat dinner she just wants junk. It took 3 times of teaching her to appreciate the food food we have before she stopped wasting it. Also, I have gotten her to eat by asking her to taste the food that I made just for her. She feels so special and will all of the food.

  • Jaina Cakebread says:

    Honestly, I tend to be a little too permissive. My kids are 2 and 1 and sometimes it’s easier to just do things for them that they could start to do on their own, but I’m working on finding the right balance. Thanks for the reminders!!!!

  • Pam says:

    This summary is encouraging to me because I find that I am more toward an authoritative parent than I thought I was.

  • Hanna says:

    I am a horrible mix of both depending on how tired I am and how whiny the kids (1 and 4) are. I have read your books and am trying my best not to just go with the easy but actually think through what I tell them. It is hard. Mine is a horrible eater, most likely because it is easier to make him pasta than listen to him scream for 2 hours. I will definitely be trying the suggestion someone posted about letting him try it to make sure it is good.

    • Tiona says:

      you could try to let him/her help you make the food. I have three children ages 11,10 & 8, and I try to get them involved in the “making” process even if it’s something they don’t particularly like. My daughter doesn’t like ham, but ate it when I let her help make split-pea & ham soup the other day.
      My youngest on the other hand has struggled w/ the texture of beans (except green beans) since he was a baby. I am continually introducing & reintroducing beans into our diet, but he has been most resistant. He would choke, gag, whine, cry, you name it! Then this past summer we went camping w/ my parents and my dad made black beans, rice & hamburg all mixed together. At first Cyle complained about the beans but then I pointed out that my dad had added the rice just for him & had him try “just two bites”… the next thing we knew he had downed two bowls & thought it was great! Now RB(Rice & Beans) Winter (we were camping @ RB Winter State Park) Hamburg Helper is a favorite around home, and as a bonus Cyle is now more open to try/re-try beans as a whole!! Good luck!

  • Elizabeth says:

    What’s continues to interest me, and confound me, esp. after reading this blog (BTW..I have read the book Dr. Leman refers too, wonderful book) is how to keep my authoritative style and that of my partner’s going when we have visitation with his two kids every other weekend, who are raised with an ultra-permissive mother? My two children know what to do, the consequences, and the rule of being told just once…but I’m still learning the balancing act of getting my two to continue the good behavior, but trying to teach my partner’s children that we don’t do permissive parenting when they are with us over the weekend. Talk about a struggle.

  • BJ says:

    I was rasied by a permissive and mostly nonexistant parents. As a parent, I was authoritarian mostly, but seeing how that approach failed miserable other families, I am really working on being more authoritative/responsible (Thanks to you Dr. L:). But nothing is coming naturally or easy. My anger mostly sets in when the kids are not kind to each other or repeatedly ignore what they are supposed to do for chores or school. Immediate natural consequences are not always working. I’ve got to let the consequences stack up for days (ie: repeated no screen time, losing funds). This is hard! and inconvenient. But I know will be worth it. I am not giving up. Keeping my cool. They are great kids, I mean, awesome. They just need a consistent responsible parent. My consistency is the problem. Pray I will do better and not get so angry. Let it go.

  • Sandra says:

    First of all thank you for your blogg, i do need these reminders! Because just like so many others I have a hard time being consistent. However, thanks to you I have changed by parenting style. I myself grew up with the authorotarian and granted I turned out ok, but I so don’t want to raise my kids this way, because I don’t want my kids to feel about their parents the way I feel about mine. Just to give you a clue, I’m in the states and they are back in germany!!!

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