Education Blog

What Parents Need to Know About Authoritative Parenting

September 21, 2021

It is less about what you do, but how you interact with your kids and how they respond to them. While parents may associate themselves with terms such as “free range” and “tiger parenting”, there are actually only four parenting styles that can be supported by psychology. These include authoritarian parenting (authoritarian parenting), authoritative parenting (permissive parenting) and neglectful parenting. Only authoritative parenting seems to have consistently positive outcomes for children.

What is it then?

What is Authoritative Parenting?

Authoritative parenting, one of the most popular parenting styles in psychology today is based on research by Diana Baumrind (University of California at Berkley), from the 1960s. Her model divides parenting into three styles: authoritative, permissive, or authoritarian. Social psychologists Maccoby, Martin and Martin expanded Baumrind’s model in the 1980’s by looking at styles through the lenses that demandedness and responsiveness.

This expanded model shows that a neglectful parent is not responsive to their child’s needs. They may also demand very little. Permissive parents are responsive to their child’s needs, but they demand very little. Autoritarian parents expect a lot from their children, but they don’t take into account their child’s needs. They often threaten punishment and pair expectations with unreasonable demands. Authoritative parents, however, appear to hit a Goldilocks zone. They are able to expect a lot from their children, but they also take into consideration the individual needs of their children.

These styles should not be confused with “parenting styles”, which are often in the news, such as helicopter parenting, attachment parenting and tiger parenting. These parenting styles are based on cultural moments. These styles are largely media-driven. They are easy to ignore, partly because they don’t have any research backing them and partly because of their compatibility with academic parenting styles Baumrind studied.

Interestingly, though her research was grounded in academic research it is worth noting; that Baumrinds insights were almost entirely based on observations of Berkley-connected white parents. Baumrind’s psychological style has remained fairly consistent over time; her researches have expanded to include more diverse communities.

Why Authoritative Parenting Works

The American Psycological Association states that authoritative parents are “nurturing and responsive, but supportive, yet set strict limits for their children.” They listen to their child and try to explain rules, discuss and reason to influence their behavior.

Dr. Leela R.Magavi, M.D. is a Johns Hopkins-trained psychiatrist, child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist. She is also the Regional Medical Director for Community Psychiatry at MindPath Care Centers. Children feel more valued, empowered and autonomous when they are treated with authority. They are more grounded, independent and motivated as adults, which makes them more compassionate.

These long-term benefits can be attributed to the daily lessons that children learn about hard work while still enjoying some elements of independence as well as play. Magavi says that it helps children to see that parents can set expectations and occasionally be disappointed, but they still love them unconditionally.

How to Adopt an Authoritative Parenting Style

It may seem appealing to raise independent, compassionate children. However, it is worth asking yourself about your parenting style. This type of reflection may uncover swings towards authoritarianism,; or the freedom-for-all of permissive parenthood; — a third style Baumrind describes as a laissez-faire parental approach that can have equally bad outcomes for children.

Magavi advises parents to do a self-evaluation and set realistic goals and expectations. Magavi says that although it may seem difficult, this introspection can be beneficial in helping parents recognize and reiterate the fact perfection is not necessary to raise compassionate and well-rounded children.

When you think about how you want to change your parenting style, keep in mind that authoritative parenting is more about you modeling a family culture than creating new rules. Do you want a child who is present, grounded, and compassionate? It is more important to show them how to do it than to tell them what to do.

“An example is that a parent who rushes through dinner will make it more likely for a child to gulp than chew. Magavi says that parents who scroll through e-mails during family time can find it difficult for children to reduce their screen time. I remind parents to model the behavior they want their children to emulate.

Communication is at the core of your parenting style. As you begin to move away from authoritarianism and permissive parenting, you might find the assistance of a therapist helpful.

Magavi suggests parents start to release emotions in a journal, which they can then work with a therapist. She says that many people notice significant benefits after meeting with a therapist, even after only a few sessions. Pediatric psychologists and psychiatrists are able to assist parents with changing their parenting style and simultaneously boost parents’ self-esteem.

How to Help Kids Transition

It is worth your time and effort to improve your parenting skills and emotional well-being. Progress isn’t always easy and can take time for your children to adapt. It can be difficult to make positive changes, even good ones. Children can feel anxious when they experience things that are not normal. This can lead to anxiety manifesting in behavior that parents might find difficult.

Magavi says that switching to a different parenting style; may result in temporary clinginess, regression or emotional outbursts depending upon the child’s temperament. “Parents who used to be permissive might find their children less accepting of them. It may take some time for children to understand and follow through with rules and routines.

She encourages parents to practice self-compassion daily and reminds; them that perfectionism can cause children to see every failure as a failure. This could lead to self-esteem issues. The goal is not to be a perfect parent, but to improve as parents. Focusing on the positive aspects of your journey and your family’s can help you maintain that mindset.

Magavi says, “I recommend parents to reduce their time on social media; in order to avoid comparing themselves to other parents.” Magavi says that everyone appears; to be a perfect parent on social media. It is possible to reduce catastrophizing, rumination; by changing your thinking and identifying the positive and negative aspects of each person and their behavior.

Your focus on others; it can be difficult to maintain the presence and mindfulness necessary for authoritative parenting. It can be liberating to realize that your primary focus should be on your children and you alone.