Authoritative Parenting Examples, Definition, vs Authoritarian

My wife and I have 3 daughters and one of the things that helped our parenting was to seek out authoritative parenting examples.

Here are some of the best ones we found:

Some Authoritative parenting examples include:

  • Setting clear expectations & consequences 
  • Parenting from a place of love rather than fear
  • Being flexible & communicative
  • Making sure the child understands why something is being asked of them
  • Allowing the child to make some choices for themselves
  • While they may dictate the end goal, they allow the child the creativity & freedom to decide how to achieve it

Mary Poppins is a great example of this. So in this post, we’re diving deep into the world of parenting styles.

We’ll take a look at the 4 types of parenting styles that are most well-known. We’ll also examine the work of Diana Baumrind who is considered one of the leading experts on parenting styles and who championed authoritative parenting.

But we’ll also compare authoritative parenting with authoritarian, as the 2 sometimes get confused despite being very different.

Ultimately, we’ll list out 13 of the most striking authoritative parenting examples & tips so you can really see and fully understand how to implement this style into your parenting if you aren’t already.

Need help parenting teenagers?

We have 2 teen daughters in our house, and let me tell you it’s a challenge! Even having raised them with authoritative parenting, we have still had many issues come up.

Luckily, we’ve used great therapists to help us help them navigate these complex times and the strong feelings they feel. is the best company I know of for online therapy, run by the folks over at BetterHelp.

And therapy isn’t only for the broken! It’s a great way for any of us to gain better insight and understanding of different situations and the why behind some of our emotional responses.

CLICK HERE to learn more about TeenCounseling on their website and see if they can help you.

What is the authoritative parenting style?

The authoritative parenting style is defined has parents setting high demands for their child. While these parents are also very responsive to the child and their emotional needs, they also have no trouble setting clear boundaries, limits, guidelines, and expectations.

I think you’ll agree with me that parenting is the toughest job you’ll ever love.

Knowing how to parent well isn’t something we’re born with. We learn through trial and error. We read books and blog posts and talk to other parents.

Ultimately our job as parents isn’t to be perfect, but it is to prepare our kids to live and succeed in the real world. So finding positive role models is crucial.

Authoritative parents practice empathy and flexibility and understand that along with discipline and structure, kids also need to feel safe and loved.

But within all those things, they make sure the child feels they have a voice and that their feelings are validated.

You’ll see much more in my authoritative parenting examples below.

Authoritative parenting examples in movies and TV

Often times, when we aren’t sure what to do, it’s easier to see some examples that are familiar to us.

If, for example, you weren’t sure if your husband was more of an authoritarian parent, and I said Red from That 70s Show, you’d get a clear picture.

1.Mary Poppins

Everyone knows the beloved Mary Poppins.

Played by Julia Andrews in the original and Emily Blunt in the sequel. Mary seems to magically succeed in parenting children when the parents, and other nannies somehow just can’t get it right.

In truth, it’s not rocket science. In the original film, the kid’s father is clearly an overworked authoritarian parent who just barks out orders and expects blind obedience. The mom, by comparison, is almost completely ineffective. She wants to support her husband, but she knows he’s not living his life right. It ends up leaving her a more permissive or even neglectful parent.

So Mary Poppins coming in with clear structure, boundaries, and guidelines, but delivered with love, joy, and fun, somehow gets the kids to do what they are supposed to do.

2. Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side

The movie The Blind Side is based on a true store chronicled in the book that came before the movie. It’s about a wealthy mom who takes in a child of neglectful parents, eventually adopting him. The child goes on to great things, including an NFL career.

Admittedly, Bullock’s character is as tough as nails. At a quick glance, she could be viewed as more of an authoritarian parent for her fierceness.

But the difference is that she never parents out of anger, hate, or other dark emotions. Love is always at the center of everything she does. She just refuses to compromise on doing the right thing; even if everyone thinks she’s crazy.

3. Parenthood

In truth, the Parenthood TV show (and the less-remembered Steve Martin movie that came before it) show us examples of all kinds of parenting. There’s the permissive parenting that Crosby and Sara struggle with.

Then there’s Zeke Braverman’s more authoritarian style. Although no one takes him 100% seriously, so it’s almost a comedic approach.

Julia Braverman is a bit more of a helicopter mom, desperate to forge a connection with her kids as her marriage is crumbling. And finally, we have Adam and Kristina Braverman who are the authoritative parents.

Adam and Kristina aren’t perfect, by a long shot. But then who is. Adam struggles with a quick temper while Kristina is easily overwhelmed emotionally and can make rash decisions. But they talk to their kids. They get input.

But they also set clear boundaries and talk about their own struggles in trying to navigate the complicated world of parenting.

How does Authoritative parenting affect the child?

Authoritative parenting often leads to children learning how to live independently. Those children are also less likely to develop drug and alcohol addictions, suffer from depression or anxiety, and get better grades in school.

Of course, every child is different, and every parent is different.

And no one parenting style is going to somehow make the job of parenting easy or produce fully-grown kids who never had any issues or challenges.

But the authoritative parenting style does have some proven and documented outcomes for many kids, so let’s take a closer look at what I mentioned above:

  • They learn how to live independently (and preparing them to live in the real world at adulthood is our ultimate job)
  • Less likely to develop dependencies on drugs or alcohol
  • They are less likely to develop depression or anxiety
  • Better grades
  • They will make friends more easily

Of course, looking at that list, ALL parents would want those things for their kids.

So what is holding us back? Why wouldn’t all parents want to implement this style of parenting? In short, because it’s harder. Unlike authoritarian parenting (which I get into more below), you aren’t just yelling orders expecting blind obedience.

And unlike permissive parenting (more on that below, also) you aren’t just letting them free-range and set their own rules. You are clearly, but lovingly, outlining goals, boundaries, rules, and expectations. You’re also setting clear consequences for not meeting expectations.

But the expectations are realistic. You’re also explaining why you have those expectations. And without turning every decision into a town hall meeting, you are also listening to your child’s opinions too.

Sources – Studies by the University of Massachusetts at Boston, the Syracuse Family Development Research Program and ETR

What are the 4 types of parenting styles?

While there are generally regarded as being as many as 7 parenting styles, the original 4 types of parenting styles are:

  • Authoritarian – top-down, command and control style using fear as a motivator
  • Authoritative – Sets clear boundaries but respects the child and gets their input
  • Permissive – Wants to be more friend to their child than parent. Sets few rules or boundaries
  • Neglectful – Puts the needs of the child second to their own, potentially putting the child in harm’s way

Diana Baumrind’s work on parenting (click to read my in-depth article) made her one of the leading experts on parenting styles.

She pioneered the study of parenting styles beginning in the 1960s and her work is still considered outstanding today.

At the time of her initial studies, the authoritarian parenting style was the dominant style of the day.

She proposed that not only was that not in the best interests of the child but that there were 3 different parenting styles:

  • Authoritarian
  • Authoritative
  • Permissive

Later, in the 1980s her work was expanded on by Maccoby & Martin who split off neglectful from the permissive style.

It’s no surprise that Baumrind championed the authoritative style and favored these authoritative parenting examples.

How does authoritarian parenting differ from authoritative?

While similarly named, authoritarian parenting differs from authoritative parenting by using fear to keep the child in line. The child’s input and opinion are not valued by the authoritarian parent, whereas the authoritative parent includes the child in decisions while still setting clear boundaries and consequences.

Think of an authoritarian parent (click to read my article to see some examples) as a drill sergeant.

This parent wants compliance and obedience more than anything else, including the child’s love and admiration. Ultimately the authoritarian parent is a control freak with insecurity issues. But they mask that by being very top-down and dictatorial with their kids.

The authoritarian parent yells and may hit or use physical discipline to garner compliance through fear.

And while all parents occasionally find their child making choices the parent might not agree with (for example right now it’s trendy among teens to experiment with gender identity issues), the authoritarian parent would have zero tolerance for that.

By contrast, the authoritative parents, while firm, fair & consistent, still love and value the child and recognize that they can disagree with their child and still offer love, compassion, and understanding.

They want the child to be clear not only on the expectations but also on why the request was made. The authoritative parent ultimately cares about the child more than the child doing what is expected.

Are you unsure why fear or physical punishment is bad or want to tame your authoritarian parenting style? If so, take a moment and check out my post on how to discipline without yelling or hitting (click to read my article on how to do that).

father, wife and daughters sitting in the grass smiling Middle Class Dad authoritative parenting examples

How do you become an authoritative parent?

To become a more authoritative parent, start by asking questions rather than making statements. Set clear boundaries and consequences, but let your child know you value them and their opinion. Using empathy, put yourself in their shoes, and say and do the things that would positively motivate you.

Ultimately it depends on which parenting style you have been following.

If you are coming from an authoritarian parenting style, which is fear-based, you’ll need to parent more from a place of love than trying to use power or rank to get your kids to blindly do what you ask.

To start with, you’ll want to actually focus on yourself and why you would want your kids to be blindly obedient and scared of you. What’s going on in you (and possibly your childhood) that made that feel way?

Next, you’ll want to start by asking questions instead of making statements.

It’s also crucial to explain why you want them to do something. That way they not only know the goal but the reason behind the goal.

Even if they don’t agree, they will at least understand why you want them to do something and will be much more apt to do it that way even if you aren’t around.

If, however, you have been parenting from a more permissive place then the key for you is boundaries.

Lots of parents I see, particularly in the Montessori community I interact with in my day job, often don’t set clear enough boundaries and goals for their kids.

They believe that’s kinder and fosters the child’s creativity.

In reality, while that might be true compared to an authoritarian parent, kids need clear boundaries, direction, expectations, and consequences.

Our job isn’t to be their best friend. It’s to set them up for success in the real world when they leave our nest.

What happens if we DON’T teach them that the real world has consequences for poor choices? What happens if we don’t teach them that they can’t just do whatever they want whenever they want.

We are setting them up for failure.

What is the most effective style of parenting?

Authoritative parenting is the most effective parenting style. While all styles have their pros and cons, authoritative parents are more likely to raise healthy, independent kids with a lower likelihood of dependency on drugs and alcohol, and fewer incidents with depression and anxiety.

And Diana Baumrind clearly thought authoritative parenting was the best parenting style.

In truth, many of us are a blend of styles. Even truer is that we aren’t likely the same parenting style as our spouse. It’s also my opinion that there are a few other parenting styles beyond the basic 4.

Here are some other parenting styles:

  • Helicopter Parenting – Parents who hover so close to their child out of fear that it prevents the child from learning valuable lessons. Think Marlin, the dad in Finding Nemo
  • Conscious Parenting – A Montessori-style approach where parents set fewer rules and boundaries and get more child involvement in how they are parented
  • Attachment Parenting – Parents who forge a close connection with their child often through breastfeeding & co-sleeping where compliance is garnered through trust & information

You may find a blend of the styles works best for you and your family. The good news is that just by thinking about being a better parent and contemplating how to do it, that makes you a great parent!

But don’t take my word for it!

Child psychologists have some strong opinions about which parenting style is best.

Check out a recent article where I explore some well-known child psychologists and get their opinion on parenting. Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is Authoritative parenting good?

Yes. Authoritative parenting is a very good parenting style, championed by noted child psychologist, Diana Baumrind among many others. It provides the child with structure while not squashing their emotions or creativity.

There are also countless studies that show the long-term effects on kids of different parenting styles.

Authoritative parenting clearly has been shown to help kids:

  • Learn to self-regulate their emotions and responses to stress
  • Be better friends, not only to others but also themselves
  • Learn how to work through a challenging situation without giving up or getting angry
  • Build long-term bonds and connections with their parents
  • Do the right thing because they want to and not out of fear of getting in trouble

But some of the more recent concepts weren’t available to Baumrind at the time. People also didn’t tend to blend different styles at the time of her work, which is honestly more realistic.

Blending happens naturally, not only with ourselves but between 2 parents who may not parent the exact same way.

Ultimately, that’s where the whole idea behind 1 parent being the “good cop” or “fun” parent compared to the other being the “bad cop” came from.

So don’t be afraid to take ideas from one style and other concepts from another style. There isn’t a one-style-fits-all approach to parenting since every parent is different and every child is different.

But for a place to start from, authoritative parenting is certainly one of the best.

The benefits of authoritative parenting

The benefits of authoritative parenting include much lower rates of drug & alcohol abuse, much lower rates of juvenile incarceration, better grades at school, less anxiety and depression, with the child growing up to be more independent and self-reliant.

Recent studies by the University of Massachusetts at Boston, the Syracuse Family Development Research Program and ETR found that by parenting your kids with the authoritative method:

  • Children experienced “with fewer depressive symptoms during adolescence”
  • “The parenting style most frequently and solidly associated with healthy, well-adjusted children . . .  is authoritative parenting” – (Lezin, N. Rolleri, L., Bean, S. and Taylor J. (ETR)
  • “After 10 years, 6% of youth (parented with the authoritative method) had records with the juvenile justice system versus 22% (in the general population)”

But those things are only the tip of the iceberg of the benefits of authoritative parenting.

By implementing some of the authoritative parenting examples below, you also likely find they develop better confidence, focus & resilience. And they will be better able to regulate their emotions.

So let’s review the . . . 

13 Amazing Authoritative Parenting Examples You Should Try

1. Set a reasonable bed-time (but getting the child’s input)

Children need a certain minimum number of hours of sleep each night for proper brain development.

Sleep deprivation can have devastating effects on children. So set a reasonable bedtime for school nights.

But the authoritative parent takes the time to explain why to the child and gets their input on the decision.

2. Make sure homework gets done (& have consequences if they don’t)

School-work and grades matter in this world. So make sure you take the time to ensure they do their homework each night.

Follow up with teachers as needed. While you never want to shame your child, there should be set and consistent consequences if they don’t do all their homework or if they get an unacceptable grade.

3. Have a set list of chores the child is expected to do each week

Everyone in a household needs to pitch in for it to flow.

Have a set list of chores for your child each week. Some chores should just be expected (take dirty dishes to the sink, clean your room, etc).

But some will warrant getting an allowance (click to read my article on doing allowance the right way).

4. Set a curfew for teens (but get their input & have set consequences)

As kids get older they naturally start spending time away from the house. Hanging with friends, going to the movies or the local arcade all become more the norm.

So set a clear curfew for them, both for school nights and weekends (weekends can obviously be later).

Do get their input on the times (input strongly encourages buy-in), but again have clear and set consequences if they come home late.

5. Have a daily check-in with your child

Talk to your child every day when they get home from school.

These days we all have a tendency to just come home and veg out in front of the TV or on mobile devices.

But there is a downside to too much technology (click to read my article on why).

So put the phones down and really connect with your child. Even just a few minutes a day will bring you closer, give you a better understanding of how they are feeling and developing.

But you are also much more likely to see any warning signs ahead of time.

6. Help them understand & validate their emotions & feelings

Kids are full of feelings. But they often lack the maturity and experience to really understand what they are feeling.

So when they’ve had a rough day or are acting out towards you, resist the urge to escalate a tense situation.

Help them understand and process what they are feeling.

For instance, my middle daughter Jolie used to get a burst of energy right before she crashed in the evening back when she was about age 5.

After the energy burst, she often gets grumpy and nothing seemingly satisfies her; even old favorites like mac n’ cheese or her favorite Disney movies.

So rather than just get mad and tell her to calm down or go to bed, we try (and don’t always succeed) to validate her feelings.

Let her have those feelings (as long as they don’t become inappropriate). If need be, have a follow-up conversation the next day and playback what you saw and heard.

7. Have clear boundaries, guidelines & expectations

Kids crave structure & routine.

While they may never tell you they want more rules, guidelines, or boundaries, they desperately need them.

Our kids are counting on us to prepare them for the real world. Guess what happens in the real world if we don’t pay a bill, show up late for a job or yell at our spouse?

That’s right, we pay the price for those misbehaviors one way or another.

Thus it’s crucial that we help our kids get ready to live in the real world by setting clear expectations now.

Do take the time to explain the why behind a rule and never say things like “because I said so”.

8. Set clear consequences for inappropriate behavior

Rules mean nothing without clear and consistent enforcement.

When you rarely, if ever, follow through on disciplining a child when they misbehave they will quickly learn that your rules don’t mean anything.

When that happens, the child loses respect for you but it also amplifies the inappropriate behavior and ultimately makes everything worse.

If you only pick one of these authoritative parenting examples to follow, make it this one.

9. But don’t be completely inflexible when they make a mistake

Kids make mistakes, just like we all do.

While there do need to be set boundaries and consequences for poor choices, take the time to really listen to your child.

Understand why they made the choice they made and don’t just blindly dole out punishment every time they make a mistake. Be flexible & realistic.

Ultimately punishment is designed to teach the child a lesson.

If they have already learned the lesson, then punishment serves no purpose other than to feed the ego of the parent.

10. Use incentives to motivate children to make the right choices

All of us work better when we know there’s a reason for our actions.

I work hard and try to do a good job at work so I can keep my job and get raises. I do nice things for my wife not so much so that she’ll do nice things for me, but because I want our marriage to thrive.

So give kids an incentive to do certain things.

That can be allowance like we talked about above, but it can also be taking them for ice cream when they go above and beyond helping around the house. Or maybe an extra $20 for every straight-A report card.

11. Allow your child to make some decisions for themselves

Kid’s lives are out of control in almost every way.

We tell them what to do. Teachers tell them what to do. Friend’s parents or even the bus driver all have more power than they do.

I don’t know about you, but I would go a little crazy in a world where I had no say in anything. That’s even more true with the emotional maturity that kids possess.

So when it makes sense, allow your kids to make choices.

Even if you narrow down the list of options for them, it’s vitally important to allow them little moments where they feel in control of their lives even if it’s only in a small way.

12. When they mess up, ask the child what they think the consequence should be

The authoritarian parent barks orders and expects to be obeyed without question.

But to develop your child to be mentally & emotionally strong and well-developed we have to parent better than that.

So once your child reaches a certain age and maturity level, ask them what they think the consequence should be if they messed up. If it’s a reasonable consequence, use it!

You’ve just empowered them, helped them feel in control of their life and still showed them there are consequences for their actions.

13. Make sure your child understands what they did wrong (& how to learn from the mistake)

I mentioned this briefly above, but it’s vital that your child understand WHY what they did that was wrong. This is one of the most crucial of authoritative parenting examples.

So always take the time to explain why the action was wrong. Help them to understand and learn from the experience.

When they have a clear understanding of why their action was wrong, they’ll stand a much better chance of not doing it a second time.

The child raised in a “because I said so” house will learn how to hide future bad behaviors and never really learn from the mistake itself.

Need help parenting? Make sure to check out my Parenting Tools & Resources Page (click to check it out on my site).

It’s a hub for all my best products, resources, and tips to help busy parents like my wife and me.

It is either things that we do/use personally and know are great, or things that have been personally recommended to me by someone I trust.

Did I cover all the authoritative parenting examples you were looking for?

In this post, we reviewed some authoritative parenting examples. But we also looked at some of the big questions that come along with that, such as:

  • What’s the best parenting style?
  • Is there a difference between authoritative and authoritarian?
  • What are the main 4 parenting styles?

Ultimately parenting is a journey, not a destination. We live, learn and grow as we go. The only mistake is the one you make repeatedly or in thinking that you’ve arrived at parenting perfection.

What was the best parenting tip you’ve ever been given?

Middle Class Dad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click to Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. This is no way increases the cost to you.

Jeff Campbell

2 thoughts on “Authoritative Parenting Examples, Definition, vs Authoritarian”

  1. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright violation? My site has a lot of completely unique content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it appears a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my authorization. Do you know any techniques to help protect against content from being stolen? I’d definitely appreciate it.

    • Hello and thanks for commenting.

      To be honest I don’t spend a lot of time searching for stolen articles. I feel like my time is better spent just writing good content as often as I can get it out. Google’s algorithms are pretty good at finding duplicate content and penalizing the sites that are taking it from you. It’s not instant, but they’re pretty good at it.

      I have occasionally seen stolen images of mine on Pinterest and it’s easy to report those on Pinterest and get them removed.

      If you do see your content stolen, I would start by notifying the web hosting company of the offending website (which may be displayed but you can also look it up on sites like Notify them of the copyright infringement and in many cases, they will remove the content or take the site down.

      If that doesn’t work, then your next step is to file a DMCA complaint against the site with Google who will basically de-index the offending site and make it not show up online anywhere. Go here to do that:

      Hope that helps!

      Cheers, Jeff


Leave a Comment