The Power of Authoritative Parenting: Why It Works So Well

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Authoritative parenting is a popular choice for many parents looking for specific outcomes with their children.

Authoritative parenting is a top pick for parents who want to be supportive and in tune with their child’s needs. Openness, honesty, values, and reasoning are the crux of authoritative parenting.

While it can be as effective as authoritarian parenting, a lot more nurturing is involved.

Authoritative parenting sets limits and enforces standards while still being nurturing to promote better mental health and stronger emotional and social skills. Parents lead, motivate, and influence their children by understanding their needs, communicating effectively, and nurturing them consistently.

If you suspect that authoritative parenting might be the parenting style that’s right for you and your family, read on to learn everything you need to know about this particular parenting style.

What Is Authoritative Parenting?

According to the American Psychological Association, authoritative parenting is supporting, nurturing, and responsive but still requires firm boundaries for children.

The authoritative parent will adjust a child’s behavior by explaining the rules and providing discussion and reasoning so that a child fully understands the process and outcomes.

However, while a child’s viewpoint is always listened to and acknowledged, it’s not always accepted or acted on. 

Authoritative parenting helps to teach children that life comes with joys and disappointments.

By acknowledging a child’s feelings without acting on them to “save the day,” authoritative parents help their children adjust better and work through hard feelings (and deal with challenges and disappointments too).

Of course, with authoritative parenting, this isn’t a harsh process as the parents listen, nurture, and are attuned to the needs of their children.

Instead of trying to solve the problem for their children, the authoritative parent will talk the situation over with their child and help them to see it from a different perspective or discuss things that the child might try to do to mitigate the way they’re feeling or to come to a more positive outcome. 

Characteristics of Authoritative Parenting 

The authoritative parenting style is characterized by parents who insist a child complies with the family rules set in place and understood.

At the same time, the parents are responsive and respectful to the needs and feelings of the child and are also supportive of the child’s individuality and autonomy.

In short, authoritative parents expect children to behave appropriately and face the consequences of their actions maturely and respectfully.

A breakdown of authoritative parenting characteristics is as follows:

  • Nurturing and warm
  • Listening to the ideas and opinions of the children
  • Encouraging independence
  • Reasoning instead of demanding
  • Clearly established rules with appropriate consequences for breaking the rules
  • Consistent enforcement of firm boundaries

Authoritative Parenting Examples

  1. Drawing up a list of household chores but allowing your child to choose the chores they would prefer to handle.
  2. Disciplining children consistently when the rules are broken or your clear expectations aren’t met.
  3. Listening to children when they are upset, angry, or feeling big emotions. This involves validating their feelings without swooping in to make it all better. 
  4. Allow your child to express rebellious views, acknowledging them but still insisting the family rules and boundaries remain firmly in place.
A happy couple and their three children sitting together in the middle of a park.

Discipline in Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting is about encouraging co-operating and positive feelings. This is done by teaching children there are rules and the reasons for the rules.

Harsh punishments, withdrawing love, and shaming children, when they do something wrong, are avoided.

Instead, when a child misbehaves or makes a mistake, they talk about it and listen to their child’s worries and opinions.

They spend time helping their child understand what they did wrong and how it might have happened and then laying out the consequences for bad behavior (and good behavior too).

Authoritative vs. Authoritarian Parenting

With authoritative parenting, the focus is on setting limits while remaining nurturing.

Authoritarian parenting has a focus on control and discipline.

Both authoritarian and authoritative parenting can appear strict, and parents generally have high expectations of their children.

Authoritarian parents are strict and cold/disconnected to a degree, while authoritative parents are strict and warm/nurturing.

Authoritative vs. Gentle Parenting

Gentle parenting is a form of authoritative parenting. Generally speaking, authoritative parenting focuses on positive and negative reinforcement, whereas gentle parenting only allows for positive reinforcement. 

Is Authoritative Parenting Effective?

According to an article released by CNBC, studies on authoritative parenting have found that it’s the most effective parenting style for parents who want to raise confident children who can achieve academic success, develop good social skills, and nurture good problem-solving skills.

Why Authoritative Parenting Works

Authoritative parenting requires parents to act as role models and display the very same behavior and approach they expect from their children.

Because of this, the child is more likely to learn the behaviors, internalize them, and exhibit them in response.

In addition, when there are consistent rules and appropriate discipline, children know the limitations and what to expect, and they feel they have an important place in the family (they will act responsibly as a result).

Is Authoritative Parenting Recommended?

Most experts agree that authoritative parenting is most effective and recommended in all cultures.

It’s undeniable that authoritative parenting results in children with better emotional health, resiliency, social skills, and healthier attachments with their parents and peers.

Authoritative Parenting Pros and Cons

Like everything in life, there are pros and cons to consider. Below is a look at the pros and cons of authoritative parenting:

Benefits of Authoritative Parenting

Children are likely to become:

  • Independent
  • Socially accepted
  • Well behaved
  • Academically minded and successful
  • Self-reliant
  • Less likely to abuse drugs
  • Less likely to indulge in antisocial behavior

Disadvantages of Authoritative Parenting

The negatives include:

  • Parents may find it challenging when children go through natural phases of anger, apathy, and rebellion.
  • Parents can become impatient.
  • This is a time-intensive parenting style.

Authoritative Parenting Effects

Authoritative parenting can have both short-term and long-term effects on children as mentioned below:

Short-Term Effects

  • Children behave appropriately.
  • Children understand the consequences of their actions and accept responsibility.
  • Children learn to make informed, well-balanced decisions as they mature.

Long-Term Effects

  • As adults, children of authoritative parenting will be independent, confident, socially accepted, and academically successful.
  • As adults, they can enjoy healthy attachment styles in relationships.

Do Children Raised by Authoritative Parents Have High Self-Esteem?

According to SciVerse Science Direct, children of authoritative parents experience high self-esteem.

They are typically self-controlled, secure, self-reliable, and independent. As a side effect, they tend to be popular and stable in social environments. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re wondering if an authoritative parenting style will work for you and your family, consider it one of the most recommended parenting styles because it is so effective.

For parents who want well-balanced, independent, socially accepted, confident, and independent children who trust themselves and can rely on themselves, authoritative parenting is an excellent option.