In our textbook we had to read about Diana Baumrind's work on different parenting styles. She came up with a theory that proposed three different styles: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. The different styles were marked by how involved the parents were in their children's lives and how strict or permissive they were.
For myself, I agree with her that the best parenting style is authoritative. Parents that are authoritative use a good mix of strictness and reinforcement. When necessary, they punish or scold their children so that they will model correct behaviors, but they also have no problem be encouraging and reinforcing the good things that the children do. I believe that this form of parenting raises children who will most likely be respectful, hard working, and who won't expect everything to go their way.
There are also reasons that I believe the other two styles do not work as well. In the case of authoritarian parents, they are very strict and try to keep the tighest rein on their children as possible. This sometimes even includes abusive behaviors. Children that are raised like this may not be as creative as other kids, and they may also not trust their own judgements because they are always being punished or put down. In the case of permissive parents, who reinforce their children all of the time and allow them to do anything that they want, these children may easily become spoiled. They then think that everyone will do things for them and will become upset when things don't go their way.
I think that understanding these different styles is important because they give us a framework from which we can learn. Understanding the effects of these styles can prepare us to raise our children in ways that will prepare them to be helpful and respectful in society.