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Research has found that parenting is generally made up of two elements. The first has been called 'warmth' (ranging from 'warm' to 'hostile') and the second has been called 'control' (ranging from 'permissive' to 'controlling'). 'Control' in this context is about providing appropriate rules and boundaries. When these two elements are considered together, four different parenting styles are produced.

The most positive parenting style has been called "tough love" and is the style that combines high warmth and high control.

The other three parenting styles are: Laissez-faire (high warmth, low control), Disengaged (low warmth, low control) and Authoritarianism (low warmth, high control), as shown in the diagram below.

Lexmond, J. & Reeves, R. (2009). Parents are the principal architects of a fairer society. Building Character. London: Demos.