Is Authoritative Parenting Healthy?

Authoritative parents usually set high standards for their children, but is this style of parenting really healthy for their children?

Is Authoritarian Parenting Healthy for My Child?

A Brief History

Diane Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist, first defined authoritative parenting style in a system that classifies how parents raise their children. According to Baumrind, parenting has three major approaches, which are:

  • Permissive Parenting, where parents do not establish certain standards or rules for their children. 
  • Authoritarian Parenting, where parents demand unquestionable or complete obedience from their children.
  • Authoritative Parenting, where parents take a moderate approach. Authoritative parents impose a set of rules, explain the reason behind these rules, as well as seek the opinion of their children. 

Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parents set high standards, but also acknowledge their children's emotional needs. They are usually very consistent with their boundaries as well. Authoritative parents are characterized as nurturing, warm, and responsive, and expect high levels of maturity and independence from their children. 

These parents would:

  • Encourage independence and allow autonomy
  • Give reasons or justifications for a particular action
  • Set effective limits for children's behavior
  • Implement positive discipline instead of punitive punishment
  • Earn children's respect, not demand it.

Traditionally, authoritative parenting has been found to be the most effective. According to studies, children that are raised by authoritative parents are happier, more self-confident, and more independent.

Parents who practice authoritative parenting discipline their children in a fair and consistent manner, especially when their children break the rules. However, they also listen to their children and give time to explain the cause and effect of their children's actions. This parenting style is quite flexible, mainly because the parents would also consider their child's behavior and situation before implementing any discipline. 

Is authoritative parenting healthy?

Of all the parenting styles, experts have concluded that authoritative parenting is the best one as it has the best outcome in children. Researchers have observed that preschool children raised by this style are:

  • Happy and satisfied
  • Independent and self-reliant
  • Outgoing
  • Cooperative and warm with peers 
  • Not afraid of exploring a new environment
  • Assertive and competent

In older children, researchers observed that they: 

  • Have higher academic success
  • Participate in school activities
  • Have less anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts
  • Are less prone to alcohol or drug abuse and delinquency
  • Have effective social skills and interaction with peers
  • Are less violent

So, why is this really the best style of parenting? There are a few reasons: 

  • Authoritative parents are nurturing: In authoritative parenting, a child’s emotional and developmental needs are nurtured and attuned because the parents are very supportive. Research has shown that there is a development of a secure attachment between the parent and child if there is also a high level of responsiveness. 
  • They are responsive to their children's needs: A child is able to succeed in life if his or her emotions are regulated. They can develop great self-regulated skills, if they have attentive and supportive parents. 
  • These parents are very supportive of their children: It's a pattern, isn't it? Authoritative parents are more supportive of their children than other parents. They are more likely to be a part of their child's school, and monitor their homework. Parent involvement actually has a positive impact on academic achievement.
  • Authoritative parents are open-minded: In authoritative parenting, parents are collaborative and open-minded. To foster individuality, they use explanation, proper communication, and reasoning to help their children develop effective social skills later in life.
  • They also have high standards: They would check their child's behavior from time-to-time, according to the high standards set by them.
  • They implement discipline: According to studies, these parents would enforce limits that are more consistent than any other style. For good behavior, consistency is one of the most important factors. Children are less likely to internalize and externalize their problems if their parents are consistent with their discipline.
  • Authoritative parents are non-punitive: Authoritative parenting does not use punitive punishment to teach their children a lesson. This, in turn, promotes honesty in children. When it comes to discipline, authoritative parents are firm, but also kind.

There needs to be a balance between behavioral and psychological control, and this balance is met by authoritative parenting. It achieves the best outcome because it lies between two extreme parenting styles.

Does authoritative parenting suit every child?

It has been found that children of different temperaments benefit from authoritative parenting, especially for children who are prone to temper tantrums. However, every child is different. According to the Goodness of Fit, every child needs to have a specific parenting style.

A child will flourish if there is a goodness of fit between the personalities and attitudes of parents, the practices of parents, and the temperament of the child. However, the child suffers if the fit is poor. Also, parenting style and parenting practices are not the same. Parenting style refers to the emotional climate a child is being raised with, while parenting practices are the parents' actions with their children.

Does authoritative parenting work?

In authoritative parenting, parents act as role models for their child and behave in a way they would expect their child to behave. Children exhibit the behavior that they internalize from their parents, and they also learn what is expected of them due to consistent rules and disciplinary measures.

Parents also understand the emotions of their child and exhibit good control. Their children are more understanding and sensitive toward other people's needs and gradually learn how to properly manage their emotions. Authoritative parenting also gives children the liberty to act independently. They are instilled with the feeling that they can accomplish their own tasks and be independent. 

How to Show Children Authoritative Parenting

When there is a balance between choice and responsibility, children feel empowered. Authoritative parents have high expectations with their children. However, they're normally flexible and are willing to reason with them. 

Children will have the freedom to voice out their opinion and explain themselves, and parents are sensitive to the needs of their child and their emotions. Children tend to have a high self-esteem, become self-reliant, are academically successful and disciplined, and are open to discussion. On the other hand, children may become resentful, delinquent, act out their feelings, and develop bad habits if they are not provided the opportunities that an authoritative parent gives. Parents should do the following to implement authoritative parenting:

  • Show your child that you care
  • Praise your child for positive behavior and accomplishments
  • Set clear and fair expectations
  • Listen to your child
  • Practice consistency
  • Discipline your child by using choices and consequences
  • Consider the opinions of your child
  • Demonstrate your affection and show that you love your child
  • Let your child make choices

Some parents by nature are more authoritative and less authoritarian or permissive. No matter what parenting style you practice, you can start adopting an authoritative parenting style at any time. To be an authoritative parent, you must be disciplined, consistent, and mindful of your own actions.

Key Takeaways

  • Authoritative parents set high standards for their children, but they also acknowledge their children's emotional needs.
  • Authoritative parenting incorporates clear limits, fair discipline, warmth, and support. 
  • It has been found that children of different temperaments benefit from authoritative parenting.