What is the authoritative parenting style?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. The authoritative parent sets high demands for their child. These parents are also very responsive to the child and their emotional needs. But they have no trouble setting clear boundaries, limits, guidelines, and expectations. They 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.
What are the 4 types of parenting styles?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:
How is an authoritative parent different from an authoritarian parent?Think of an authoritarian parent (click to read my article) 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. By contrast, the authoritative parents, while firm, fair & consistent, wants the child to be clear not only on the expectations but also on why the request was made. The authoritative parent 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).
How can parents be more authoritative?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 comfortable? 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.
Which is the best style of parenting?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, such as:
- Helicopter Parenting - Parents who hover so close to their child out of fear that it prevents the child from learning valuable lessons
- 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
Is Authoritative parenting the best?Diana Baumrind certainly thought authoritative parenting was the best. But some of the more recent concepts weren't available to her 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 parentingRecent 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)”
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 (click to read my article) 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 weekEveryone 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.
Researchers recognize 4 different styles of parenting, each with potentially different effects on children: 1. Authoritarian or Disciplinarian 2. Permissive or Indulgent 3. Uninvolved 4. Authoritative#Parenting #Parenthood #WednesdayWisdom #WednesdayVibes #WednesdayMotivation pic.twitter.com/KBCcFZ3fCb— Lil Dew Drops (@Lil_DewDrops) July 18, 2018
5. Have a daily check-in with your childTalk 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 & feelingsKids 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 tends to get a burst of energy right before she crashes in the evening. 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 play back what you saw and heard.
7. Have clear boundaries, guidelines & expectationsKids 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 behaviorRules 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 mistakeKids 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 choicesAll of us work better when we know there's a reason behind 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 themselvesKid'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 beThe 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 I. 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?