mother and father lifting their kids

Free-Range or Indulgent: Parenting Styles and Your Kids

Do you need to be the type of parent who tells their kids to go to their rooms or the one who permits their children to have sleepovers and drive them to dates? That depends on your parenting style.

Parenting varies from parent to parent and depends on their personality and their children’s needs. A single mom in San Antonio may work overtime and allow their kids to come and go as they please. A couple in Salt Lake City may need to put their kid in a preschool or childcare center whenever they’re busy with their work.

Check if your parenting style falls into any of the categories below.

Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting is one of the three parenting styles proposed by Dr. Diana Baumrind in 1966. Parents who employ this type of parenting are in a give and take relationship with their kids. They are demanding and responsive: They set rules and monitor their kids, but they are also warm and receptive towards their children’s appeals.

Authoritarian Parenting

Be careful when distinguishing from authoritative and authoritarian. Authoritarian is the second style brought up by Baumrind. While authoritative parents reason with their kids, authoritarian parents believe kids are too willful and indulgent. If an authoritative parent allows their kid a few extra minutes at their childcare center to continue playing with their friends on the promise that they’ll study longer, an authoritarian parent will take their kid out of childcare immediately and still expect a longer study time.

Free-Range Parenting

This is the opposite of helicopter parenting. Kids biking down the street with their friends, going to dance practices on their own, exploring the marked parts of a nature park near them, all without the supervision of a guardian or a parent, defines free-range.

Parents who are free-range in their approach don’t just let their kids loose. They are careful about letting their kids roam around and believe that letting kids do things on their own will let them grow and become resilient. Allowing kids to play by themselves exercises their brains, as well as develop their social skills, and problem-solving skills.

Permissive Parenting

Mother reading with young daughterPermissive or indulgent parenting is the direct opposite of the authoritarian or punishment-based parenting style. Instead of rigid rules and demands, parents are permissive of everything and anything their kids want. Sure, kids may grow to have high self-esteem, but parents may prioritize freedom over rules—“kids being kids,” even when children need rules.

Now that you know what your parenting style is, know what love language your kid speaks. It doesn’t matter if your situation is closer to the single mom in San Antonio or the couple using childcare in Salt Lake City. What matters, in the end, is that you learn how to apply the type of love your kid needs in your parenting style.

Know if your child needs a hug, a verbal ‘I love you’, time with you for their hobbies, or thoughtful gifts. Offering to do something for them even when they don’t ask is a good way to nurture your relationship. Sowing the seeds of empathy makes for caring kids and shows them how much you care for them. It’s a win-win.