Are you a ‘tiger’ or a ‘jellyfish’ when it comes to parenting?

Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to help determine your style of parenting: 

  1. I make decisions for the kids and I don’t feel the need to explain my reasons.
  2. I’d rather back down from an argument than get into a fight with my kids.
  3. I need to demonstrate respect for my kids in order to expect to be respected by them in return.
  4. I shouldn’t have to deal with my kid’s mistakes. 
  5. There are times when I need to stand firm on a decision but it’s important to explain the reasoning behind the decision.
  6. I don’t care what my child believes.
  7. I believe parents should set the rules and kids should follow them.
  8. I don’t pay attention to what my kid likes.

Yes to #1 and #7 –  This style is referred to as “Authoritarian or tiger” parenting. It’s the “I know best” approach. No questions asked. 

Yes to #2 and #8- This style is referred to as “permissive, indulgent or jellyfish”. The parents place few demands on their children. They avoid confrontation and provide few guidelines regarding behaviour because they don’t want to upset their children.  They tend to strive to be seen as a friend to their child and have difficulty when it comes to setting and enforcing rules.

Yes to #3 and #5 – This style is generally referred to as “authoritative or backbone” parenting. It is a blend of caring with structure and consistent limit setting.  Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions.  These parents expect a great deal of their children but they provide warmth, feedback and adequate support.  When children fail to meet expectations, these parents are nurturing and forgiving rather than punitive, although they do impose consequences for not adhering to family rules.  

Yes to #4 and #6 – This style is referred to as “Uninvolved parenting”. This style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and very little communication.  While this style ensures kids’ basic needs are met, it offers little guidance, structure, rules or support.

Different parenting styles have different impacts on child developmental outcomes and their health habits. Research suggests that:

  • Authoritarian or ‘tiger’ parenting style generally promotes obedience and proficiency in children.  Ironically, children that are raised with this approach often lack respect for authority.  They rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem. Because of a lower self-esteem, they may be more likely to follow the crowd in making less healthy, possibly risky choices or may bully others. 
  • Authoritative parenting style sets a positive foundation based on clear rules and expectations and non-physical discipline. It’s the combination of expectations and support that helps children develop independence and self-control, a strong self-esteem and self-confidence.  It is this parenting style that is considered to create the strongest bonds between parents and kids and leads to the development of thinking and social skills important for young people to be successful in the adult world. Kids raised with an authoritative parenting style are more likely to make good decisions that lead to positive health behaviours.
  • Permissive  or ‘jellyfish’ parenting places few rules or demands on kids and parents seldom follow through on consequences when children do not follow the rules.  This parenting approach often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation.  These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school. They are at higher risk for health problems such as obesity perhaps because of parents’ struggle to limit unhealthy food choices.  
  • Children from families where parents are uninvolved tend to lack self-control, have lower self-esteem and are less competent in decision-making than their peers.  Consequently, they are easily led to risky health behaviours such as using drugs and/or alcohol.

You may be a mixture or use different approaches depending on the situation – that’s more likely the case. And two-parent families may have different styles all together. Try to decide together what parenting style works best for your family.  Make a plan that you are both happy about.  Be flexible and seek professional support if there are strong differences in your approaches to parenting or you feel confused about what to do. Here are some additional resources you may find helpful.


What’s Your Parenting Style? – video

Nobody’s Perfect – Facilitated Parenting Program

Nobody’s Perfect Parenting Tip Sheets

30 Ways to stay Connected with your Teen

Parent’s Guide to Separation and Divorce

Why the best parenting style isn’t one style at all, but many