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Inside: Authoritative parenting is acclaimed as one of THE MOST effective parenting styles. Below we will explain what authoritative parenting is (and go over the other 3 top parenting styles), learn why authoritative parenting is so highly acclaimed, and provide practical tips on how you can start rocking this parenting style today!
“A parenting style is a psychological construct representing standard strategies that parents use in their child rearing. The quality of parenting can be more essential than quantity of time spent with the child.” Wikipedia.
So, in other words:
Your parenting style has an ENORMOUS effect on your child.
It can affect everything from how your child responds to emotions, to how they do in school (and later in jobs) to how they feel deep down in the secret cockles of their being about themselves.
It’s important that we ensure our parenting style is supporting a healthy growth mindset in our kids because it’s a fact that this will affect your child for the rest of their lives.
If you want to learn what kind of parenting style you are using right now, what is the best parenting style and how you can adopt an authoritative parenting style, keep reading!
Goal of Parenting:
Goal of parenting (as described by Dr. Diana Baumrind): To achieve a healthy, well-developed child of optimal competence and character.
I. Character: the aspect of personality that relates to
accountability, persistence in the face of obstacles, and control of impulses.
II. Competence: that which helps us reach our personal and social goals. The ability to know right from wrong and to regulate our actions in order to choose right rather than wrong.
A parenting style is the emotional climate in which parents raise their children
And a parenting practice is a specific action that parents employ in their parenting, think positive affirmations or rewards.
The Four Main Types of Parenting Styles
Authoritarian – Demands obedience and uses punishments without explaining (associated with poor academic achievements and depressive symptoms)
Authoritative – Emphasizes high standards, but, is also nurturing and responsive.
Permissive – Doesn’t enforce rules, allows the child to pave their own way (associated with poor self-control, low self-esteem, and aggression)
Uninvolved- Neglectful, doesn’t ask questions
I’m not asking you to sport a parenting style much like you would skinny jeans and puffy sleeves.
This is not a fad!
Parenting styles (and their effect on child development) were extensively studied in 1960’s and 1970’s by Diana Baumrind who is a world-renowned psychologist.
Dr. Baumrind conducted a large number of studies that investigated the relationship between parenting styles and child outcomes, and this study found that the authoritative parenting style is linked with the most positive developmental outcomes (emotional stability, adaptive patterns of coping and life satisfaction.)
And these findings are ringing true across ethnicity and social classes (except on group of low-income African American parents found no negative effects with authoritarian parenting)
Baumrind identified three main types of parenting styles, basically, the authoritarian style is “too hard”, the permissive style is “too soft”, and the authoritative is “just right.”
Why Authoritative Parenting Is Best
I’m going to skip to the punch line here and reveal that authoritative parenting is the way to go!
Authoritative parenting is the best of the best, (like 10 gold stars the best) so let’s look at this a little closer, then below, we will also explain the other parenting styles and provide some practical tips to get you parenting in style!
Authoritative parenting is a parenting style that takes a meet in the middle approach of all the other parenting styles (which we will look at below).
Authoritative parents still enforce rules, maintain authority and hand out consequences, but they are much more emotionally responsive, warm and listen and explain the rules.
These types of parents seek a healthy balance for the child’s desires and the parent’s authority.
This parenting style is linked with superior child outcomes throughout the world!
“They [the parents] monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative” (Baumrind, 1991, p. 62).
Parents determine their parenting style by how they balance demandingness and responsiveness.
Demandingness: The way parents use power in parenting: and by power we mean how they supervise their children, to how they control and prohibit certain actions.
Responsiveness: How parents express love, balance their children’s needs for protection and autonomy, and comply with their children’s needs and wishes.
What is an authoritative parent?
Authoritative parenting is not to be confused with authoritarian parenting, authoritative parenting is a meet in the middle style of parenting.
If authoritarian parenting is harsh, cold and firm and submissive parenting is impulsive, loose and flexible, then the authoritative parent meets in the middle and combines elements of both styles.
While authoritative parents still enforce rules, maintain authority and hand out consequences, they are much more emotionally responsive, warm and listen and explain the rules.
These types of parents seek a healthy balance for the child’s desires and the parent’s authority.
You might be an authoritative parent if:
- If you are putting a ton of effort into creating and maintaining a positive relationship with your child, explaining rules and consequences and responding to feelings with empathy
- If you take your child’s wishes and feelings into consideration
- Encourage your child to talk about their feelings
- Try to help your child work through difficult emotions
- Provide reasons for rules and expectations
- Respect your child’s opinion and try to compromise, even if they differ from yours.
Research suggests that if you have authoritative parents you are MOST likely to become a responsible adult who is comfortable expressing your opinions.
What is an example of authoritative parenting?
Authoritative parenting looks like this: “Mom can I have half an hour more screen time?”
Mom, “Once you finish your homework assignment then you can have half an hour more screen time.”
Does authoritative parenting work?
All research points to children bred from authoritative parenting environments to be:
- Happy and well-adjusted
- Independent, confident and self-reliant
- Able to master and handle emotional regulation
- Achieve higher academic success
- Engage in enriching social interactions and participate in more school activities
- Better mental health throughout childhood and adulthood — less anxiety, depression, less substance abuse
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What is authoritarian parenting?
Basically is you use this phrase a lot you can be pretty sure you’re an authoritarian parent:
“Because I said so.”
Authoritative parenting is a type of parenting style that demands obedience and control. It’s how you might envision a family operating from the ’60s. It’s your way or the highway.
Parents are very strict and demand and respect. There are no maybe’s here, folks. If mindful parenting is the latest fad, then authoritarian parenting is the exact opposite.
If a child asks for something, the answer is yes or no, no explanation needed. The mindset is also that kids had better listen (without asking why), or they will be swiftly punished.
So instead of teaching a child how to make better choices, they make kids feel sorry for their mistakes. Punishments are swift and expected. Kids aren’t involved in problem-solving.
You might be an authoritarian parent if:
- You feel children should listen and respect your wishes without question
- Kids are made to be sorry for their mistakes.
- Kids aren’t involved in decision making or problem-solving
- You are emotionally cold and don’t care about the child’s opinion.
- Your child’s feelings don’t matter – you make the decisions
- You provide no reasons for rules and expectations
What is an example of authoritarian parenting?
Authoritarian parenting looks like this: “Mom can I have half an hour more screen time?”
Mom, “Absolutely not, and if I hear one more word about it, you are going to get it!”
Does authoritarian parenting work?
All research points to children bred from authoritarian parenting environments to exhibit the following characteristics:
- Exhibit low self-esteem
- Often unsure of themselves
- Timid personality
- Battles depression
- Limiting fear of new situations.
- While they might excel at school they will likely struggle socially.
What is Permissive Parenting?
Permissive parents are undemanding, yet emotionally responsive.
Submissive parents don’t discipline or impose rules, they shy away from any conflict with their kids for fear that they are stifling their creativity or sense of self.
They believe kids should regulate themselves, they set few rules or limits and don’t enforce the few rules they set.
They are generally warm and emotionally responsive, but they don’t set boundaries. They often give in to demands and become more like a pal to their child instead of a parent.
Permissive parents will bend over backward to give their child everything they want (that they lacked as a child themselves)
You might be a permissive parent if:
- Do you set rules but rarely enforce them?
- You don’t like to hand out consequences?
- You want your children to make all their owns decisions and feel they can best navigate their lives.
- You might say often, “Kids will be kids”
Are you taking on a friendship role? You might want to talk about problems and be close, but you are putting tons of effort into discouraging poor choices.
What is an example of permissive parenting?
Submissive parenting looks like this: “Mom can I have half an hour more screen time?”
Mom, “Sure go ahead, but don’t stay up too late.”
Does permissive parenting work?
All research points to children bred from permissive parenting environments to be:
- Disregard rules and have issues with aggression
- Kids might be free-spirited and have fun
- Struggle with rules and authority
- Suffers from a higher risk of depression and anxiety
- Struggle academically and have more behavioral issues
- and a higher risk of depression and anxiety.
- Interestingly enough, these kids are more likely to be obese, as parents struggle to limit junk food.
What is Uninvolved Parenting?
We should also mention that there is a fourth big parenting style that is often talked about and that is the uninvolved parent.
Uninvolved parents are neither demands nor responsive, they are uninvolved because they don’t want child-rearing responsibilities.
It’s a very detached and neglectful parenting style. You don’t ask your child often about school or their day. You often don’t know where your child is, or who with, you don’t spend much time with your parent.
Children often don’t receive guidance, nurturing, support or attention.
Do you expect your child to raise themselves?
Not all uninvolved parents mean to be this way, some battle mental health issues, substance abuse issues, or they are simply so preoccupied with work, paying bills or managing the household that they neglect the child.
Does Uninvolved parenting work?
Children with uninvolved parents are likely to struggle with
- Self-esteem issues
- Lots of behavioral problems and
- Low happiness scores
- Low achievement scores, often suffering from anxiety, depression and substance abuse
The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting is an intelligent guide to raising a happy, healthy child and to becoming a happier, more confident parent in the process.
How to become an authoritative parent
Being an authoritative parent would mean shaping behavior through reasoning. So, instead of barking, “don’t touch the hot stove” you might explain why.
In the Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting, Dr. Steinberg puts decades of research into a parenting book that explains the fundamentals of raising happy, healthy children, giving parents an invaluable map to help them navigate parenthood from infancy to adolescence.
“Most parents do a pretty good job of raising kids, but truly effective parenting means not just relying on natural instincts but also knowing what works and why.” Dr. Steinburg
Awesome strategies on how to use authoritative parenting to raise healthy, happy kids:
- When your child has a perspective or opinion, respect that opinion. Be warm and understanding, use phrases such as, “I understand you feel this way about this.”
- When setting expectations and rules and making demands, always give clear explanations for why you are setting these rules.
- Encourage your child’s independence and individuality. Don’t encourage them to conform or change their interest based on what you think is best.
- Always praise positive and worthy behavior. However, you should still advise your child when their actions require improvement or change.
- Have a handle on where your child is, who they hang out with, what they are involved in, basically, don’t forget to care!
- Compromise when you disagree on something!
- Consider your child’s age to determine where their maturity should lie. Are your expectations too high?
- Teach your child how to regulate their emotions, don’t just expect that they will know this important skill. When your child is feeling angry, sad, scared or anxious, help them navigate and cope. We’ve got some kick-butt resources for teaching emotional regulation to kids, like 73 powerful tips to calm an anxious child, or Anger Management for Kids: 55 strategies to calm an angry child down.
- Explain empathy, young kids want to please you and they do feel empathy. Teach them kindness.
- Check out these 10 positive parenting techniques from Positive Parenting.
- Practice mindfulness. Authoritative parenting is basically another phrase for mindful parenting. We’ve got a number of resources to teach mindfulness to kids, but perhaps start here, why mindfulness is SO important for our kids
Mindfulness is like a superpower. And when you teach these skills to your kids? That’s when you can slap an “S” on your chest… ….because you and your kids will be unstoppable (think calm, happy, resilient kids). And now you can have parenting superpowers: Introducing Mighty Mindful Kids, the one-of-a-kind printable mindfulness eBook for kids ages 2 to 10!
What if parents have different parenting styles?
Ok, so I just need to say this, there is a reason why having a baby won’t save your marriage! Adding a third person complicates your relationship in ways you can’t.even.imagine.
You might envision walking hand in hand peacefully through the park with your bundle of joy, this is so far from reality. It might look more like a scene from Jurassic Park!
Parenting is one of the things couples fight most about! After-all this makes perfect sense, nothing is more precious than your child.
When parents have different parenting styles this can definitely cause a big wedge for the couple, but parents need to present a united front for the kids.
Kids will begin to play parents off each other, and the one cardinal rule of parenting is that kids need consistency. If one parent is too soft your kid will naturally gravitate to that parent, (dare I say manipulate), they might even pit you against each other.
Therefore you may need to spend some time working this out with your partner, and while you are working this out, remember to present a united front.
If your partner is opposed to your authoritative parenting style, (perhaps your spouse was raised differently) then it might help if you’ve shown that you’ve done your research and present it factually.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to seek professional help to sort this out, because it is a big deal, and these differences can really drive a wedge in your marriage.
In the end, try to adopt the same parenting style as your spouse, but don’t be afraid to adopt different parenting practices. In other words, if your husband isn’t one to cheer your kid on, they could give emotional support by using positive affirmations. Agree on the important things like bedtime, morning routines, sleep, food, school, sports, spanking, etc.
What is your parenting style?
Take this quiz here from Psych Central to find out
Child Temperament – Factors in how a child turns out
A child’s temperament can affect your parenting style.
There is a fine balance between nature vs. nurture. Your child can be shaped and molded, but their core personality traits they are born with.
If a child is spirited and demanding you can still be authoritative, but you might need to change your parenting practices.
So here’s my recommendation: Both parents should use authoritative parenting, but employ different parenting practice according to their child’s temperament.
Fun Parenting Style Buzz Words
Helicopter parenting – authoritative but with overinvolved
Free-range parenting – Uninvolved but it’s a conscious choice
Parenting for Brain has an insightful article on authoritative parenting
Parenting for character – 5 experts 5 practices Baumrind D. Authoritative Parenting for Character and Competence. Parenting for Character: Five Experts, Five Practices edited by David Streight. 2008. Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education. ISBN: 978-1-881678-76-2.
American College of Pedatricians – Authoritative Parenting
Effect of Authoritative Parental Control on Child Behavior (1966) & Child Care Practices Anteceding Three Patterns of Preschool Behavior (1967)
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