Goldilocks and the Three Bears – parenting styles

Just like Goldilocks and the Three Bears who said “too hard, too soft, just right,” psychologist Diana Baumrind identifies three basic parenting styles that mirror the above descriptions. Dr. Baumrind explains that these three parenting styles are classified as; “authoritarian,” “permissive,” and “authoritative.” Since it can appear confusing to have authoritarian and authoritative as two different styles, Author Judith Rich Harris has created nicknames to  make them more digestible. She further describes the parenting styles as;  “authoritarian (too hard),” “permissive (too soft),” and “authoritative (just right).” 


An “authoritarian” parenting style can be characterized by a parent being hypocritical of the child’s behavior and may make excessive demands. This parent is a super strict parent who penalizes the child if they deviate from rules. Additionally, this “too hard” parent seldom displays or shows love and is not responsible or reliable to the child’s needs. 


A “permissive” parenting style can be described as laid back when it comes to their child. The “too soft” parent is excellent at expressing love and affection towards the child, however is not so great at enforcing rules and responsibilities.


An “authoritative” parenting style is classified as the parent that is firm but not too rigid. This “just right” parent has rules but allows them to bend under special circumstances for the child. As well, this parent communicates effectively their love for the child at the same time enforcing their rules in a fair and consistent manner. 


Dr. Baumrind reminds us all that parenting is an art, not a science. No one can be the perfect parent, however we can all strive to have good intentions when it comes to parenting and caring for a child.

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