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Which Parenting Style Are You? Is It Montessori Compatible?

Which Parenting Style Are You?

You have seen them all. Some parenting styles you idolize and want to mirror as many traits from them as you can.

Others…you cringe and bite your tongue to prevent saying anything out loud you may regret down the road.


Picture this: You’re at a playgroup at your local library with your 3-year-old son. The focus in the group is on story-time and the librarian is reading to the children, slowly turning each page after letting the crowd see the pictures before the pages are turned.

To your left, there is a little girl stomping her feet because she wants to be closer to the book. Her mother is standing next to her, holding her back telling her no. (Authoritarian Parenting)

The little girl is protesting and ignoring her mother’s direction, slowly becoming more and more agitated. Her mom quickly swoops in, grabs her daughter, and storms out of the room while her daughter’s screams echo across the large room as they exit.

You can overhear the little girl asking why they have to leave. Just as you can overhear her mother loudly shout, “Because I said so!”.


Meanwhile, a father is staring at his cellphone, completely disengaged in what is going on in the group. His twin sons are beginning to wander away from the group, distracted by a nearby group of older children working on crafts. (Uninvolved Parenting)

Their dad continues to ignore the twins, and only looks up to quickly pull them back to the group, then returning to his phone. One of the twins managed to grab a marker and is rubbing it along the carpet with the cap off.

His father is completely unaware of, or just not concerned about, the mess his son is making.


To your right, there is a grandmother listening to the story being told and holding her granddaughter in her lap. Together they are engaged in the story, completely in sync with one another. (Authoritative Parenting)

As the story wraps up, the little girl asks her grandmother if they can stop for lunch on the way home. Her grandmother explains they are running short on time and can’t stop today, but they will stop for lunch after next week’s storytime playgroup.

parenting style infographic

She asks her granddaughter what she wants for lunch that next week, and you can overhear her listing off ideas while carefully considering her options.


As you are putting on your son’s jacket while the playgroup ends, you witness a little boy, close to your son’s age shoving candy into his mouth. His mother asks where he got the candy, but doesn’t show much interest in hearing his answer.

He asks if he can rent some video games, and before his mother answers, he runs off toward the aisle with the games to rent. His mother, clearly overwhelmed with the day’s tasks in front of her, shakes her head while saying, “boys will be boys” and stops to pick up his candy wrappers which he carelessly threw on the ground. (Permissive Parenting)


Child psychologists categorize various parenting styles into four types: Permissive, Uninvolved, Authoritarian and Authoritative. While each style is broken down into its own unique category, it is important to recognize some parents may hold various traits of more than one style of parenting.

One style will be the dominant characteristic of that parent, but depending on the situation and external factors involved, more than one parenting style may be present.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive Parenting may be your parenting style if you find you’re overly relaxed with rule enforcement. You may be more lenient than other parents you socialize with and more likely to forgive negative behavior from your child.

kids fighting in the street, an effect of permissive and inattentive parenting style

Traits of Permissive Parenting include:

  • Not a rule enforcer
  • Tend to be more lenient
  • Easily able to forgive and forget
  • Quick to give in and say yes
  • More of a friendship than a parent/child relationship.

While not always the case, this is a style of parenting that may be common in separated parents who are co-parenting their child or children together.  One parent may feel obligated to be stricter, creating a routine and maintaining an organized lifestyle filled with planning.

While another parent may find it preferential to be the “fun parent”, providing more of a pal-like relationship with their child and often saying yes, while rarely enforcing strict structure.

This type of parenting may lead to mental health issues down the road for a child. Creating an inability for the child as he/she enters adulthood to foster self-discipline, organizational skills and make adult choices.

This could lead to depression, inability to maintain employment and failure to create and sustain adult relationships due to “flakey” personality traits. 

Uninvolved Parenting

Uninvolved Parenting may be your style if you are fairly absent (physically or otherwise) in your child’s life.

3 kids waving hapily

Traits of Uninvolved Parenting include:

This type of parent rarely is aware of what is going on in their child’s life. They may not know who their children’s friends are, what sports or hobbies their child is currently involved in, or any information about their life inside and outside of school. This is a common style among parents who are overwhelmed with their everyday lives.

Perhaps they hold a high-power and demanding job or are suffering from a mental illness such as chronic depression or substance abuse.

Uninvolved parenting may lead to children acting out, doing poorly in school, and possible anger issues. They may feel unheard and lack the support they need as they develop in and outside of their home.

With the right support system, this type of parenting style can be corrected and rebuilt to provide a better focus on family.

The Authoritarian Parenting Style

Authoritarian Parenting may be your style if you are a real stickler for the rules. This type of parent rarely explains the reasoning behind rules and is not willing to bend the rules or come to a mutual agreement with others.

girl crying, a consequence of an authoritarian parenting style.

Traits of Authoritarian Parenting include:

  • Specific rules that must be followed, no exceptions
  • Children lack the flexibility to express their opinion or share their ideas
  • One-way dialogue is common
  • This is way we do it and always have” may be a frequent expression a child will hear

A common expression in this parenting style is “my way” or “If you don’t like it, too bad”. This style focuses heavily on obedience.

Children are not encouraged to have an opinion or ask why something is the way it is.

A child raised by an authoritarian parent may grow up to lack imagination and creativity. They may be able to possess strong disciplinary skills in their daily lives as they develop, but may lack self-esteem and constantly be looking for direction from others.

The Authoritative Parenting Style: The Montessori Way

Authoritative Parenting may be your style if you openly discuss with your children why the rules you have are intact. You may have a strong reward system in place, and provide both positive and negative reinforcement.

Open dialogue is heavily present in this parenting style. This parenting style is most in line with Montessori.

father running and laughing with son, and authoritative parenting style

Traits of Authoritative Parenting include:

  • Enforce rules, but explain why they are in place
  • Children will be allowed to experience natural consequences
  • Parents ensure children know that adults are in charge
  • Reward systems are sometimes in place
  • Organized daily systems and planning are common in this style of parenting

Compared to the four major styles of parenting, this style of parenting is the most desirable as it encourages children to think for themselves and understand the consequences of their actions.

Children will feel encouraged to ask questions regarding why, and learn that rules are in place for a reason.

Totally Montessori!


As mentioned in the beginning of this article, you may find you have traits of more than one parenting style, or that your partner has a radical different parenting style than you do.

Each parent is their own unique individual and parenting requires a lot of trial and error and compromise.

Each child is motivated differently and you may find you parent slightly different depending on each of your children, if you have more than one.

Do not find yourself discouraged if you possess any negative traits of a specific parenting style. As our children grow up, we evolve as parents as well, constantly refocusing our paths and redirecting our styles of parenting to better fit our family’s needs.

Montessori’s methods evolved with her own understanding of children!

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Pat Gere

Friday 24th of January 2020

A very concise description of these parenting traits but also a little scary given the consequences that 'may' result. Why do we parent the way we do? Do you have resources you would recommend to parents who might want to change? Being Montessori trained, I also wonder how you feel rewards fit into authoritative parenting - natural consequences, yes; rewards??

Sue Denym

Saturday 25th of January 2020

Being Montessori trained myself, I do not used rewards. However, many parents who use this parenting style are not Montessori and do use reward systems. It's just the parenting style that is the most aligned with Montessori.