Adopting a parenting style is one of the best things you can do as a loving parent. Although there are many different ways of going about raising your kids, some are considered much better than others. By giving your children a solid foundation to build off of, you’re not only helping them succeed around the house with you, you’re also giving them a platform to build the rest of their lives upon.
This article will look into a very popular parenting technique called authoritative parenting and how it can help shape your kids in a positive way. I have provided a table of content for easy navigation –
1.1 Authoritative Parenting Style Definition
1.2 Authoritative Parenting Skills
1.3 Authoritative Parenting Examples
1.4 Authoritative Parenting Books
1.5 A Brief Bio of Diana Baumrind
1.6 Effects and Conclusion
Before we jump into the different techniques involved with being an authoritative parent, we’ll first define what the term means. Being an authoritative parent means finding the right mix of loving and caring and hard rules. By giving your kids consequences and outlining the things that they should and shouldn’t do, you can establish a framework from with which to build.
A formal definition of authoritative parenting, as outlined by Families.com, is, “Authoritative parents believe in developing a close and nurturing relationship with their children while also upholding and maintaining a reasonably high level of expectations and rules or guidelines.”
If your parenting style is authoritative, it means that you’ve developed a certain skill set that you use when dealing with your kids. Authoritative parenting works because parents have established “ground rules” that their kids must obey. Although there are many variations on this common theme, many parenting books outline the following skills as the best foundation for an authoritative parenting style.
Listen: First and foremost, it’s important that you listen to what your children have to say. Although “authoritative” sounds very similar to “authorititarian,” they’re two very different parenting styles. By listening to what your children have to say, you can show them that you not only value their opinion, but you’re treating them like adults. Listening is one of the most underdeveloped skills, which is why it’s important to do everything you can to listen to what your kids have to say to show them that you care.
Give Them Independence: I’m sure you’ve seen it while you’re in the mall. Some parents drag their children along while they pick out clothes for their little ones right in front of them. Doing things for your child is a huge disservice to their future. Encourage your child to be independent and help them make their own decisions.
Boundaries and Expectations: As a parent, it’s your job to let your kids know what it is they can and can’t do. That doesn’t always mean telling your kids to eat their peas. Instead, it means setting boundaries for bigger things like curfews and what you expect of them around the house. It isn’t always easy to tell your kids to mow the lawn on a hot Saturday afternoon, but by rewarding them and letting them know that your expectations of them in school or around the house have been exceeded, you can reward them with love and encouragement.
Nurture: One of the worst authoritative parenting styles you can have is the cold type. Being cold means not showing any type of love or compassion towards your kids. Many folks who start looking into authoritative parenting styles lose sight of this and end up showing the cold shoulder to their kids more often than they should. While being firm is one thing, being mean and unresponsive is completely unnecessary. Learn from the beginning what it means to be a warm and caring parent so that you don’t end up like one of those 1960’s parenting figures who ends up pushing their kids away more than they invite them in.
Opinions?: Everyone has an opinion to share, even your children. By opening up your ears to let your children express what they think, you can encourage them to be open with you in all facets of their life. Your children aren’t meant to just stay submissive and silent. Allowing them to express their ideas freely, as well as listen to the ones that you have, you can help better prepare them for the “real world,” where they’ll be expected to collaborate and help others solve problems, not just agree with what they’ve been told.
Discipline: Disciplining is one of the hardest things you’ll ever do to your kids. No parents want s to have to put their kids into time out or ground them, but it sometimes has to be done. Part of parenting styles that are authoritative is discipline. Discipline isn’t meant to be mean or hard edged, but should instead be a way to remind your kids that they have stepped out of line. By providing boundaries for your children to work within, you’re helping them prepare for later in their life when the consequences may be more severe than a lack of video games for a week. While laying your foot down is important sometimes, being too heavy handed can lead to fallout with your kids.
The best way to understand what it means to be an authoritative parent is to use an example. We’ll go over not only what an authoritative parent does, but also what two other parenting styles would say in the same situation.
The Example: This authoritative parenting example involves the age old tale of a child wanting a piece of candy, either before dinner, or during the middle of the day. If your son or daughter approaches you and asks you nicely for a piece of candy, there are a few different ways of approaching the situation.
Authoritatively: The most commonly accepted way of handling this situation is to simply not say no, but explain the situation to your child so that they better understand what’s going on. An authoritative parent would explain to their child that although candy is nice to eat and is enjoyable, it isn’t always the best choice to make before dinner or as a meal alternative. While candy can be a nice treat from time to time, it isn’t always the best choice for their health. You can then decide whether or not you want to give your child a piece of candy as a reward for something they’ve done, or say no to their request because it’s too close to dinner time.
Permissive Parenting: The argument between authoritative vs permissive parenting has come up many times in the past, with many parent often caving because of guilt or pressure to give their child what they want. In this situation, a permissive parent would simply give the child the candy that they want without explaining why they have earned it or what the effects of candy are on the health. Permissive parents often have children who are called “spoiled,” because they’re simply unable to say no to their children.
Authoritarian: Often confused with authoritative parenting, the “authoritative vs authoritarian” argument couldn’t be much clearer. An authoritarian parent would tell their child “no, you can’t have any candy” without ever explaining why the decision was made. Children grow to fear parents who are this strict and abrupt with their decisions.
Walk into any bookstore in the country and you’re bound to find a whole section on parenting books. The world of parenting has become an entire industry build around the idea that there’s a perfect way to raise your kids. Authoritative parenting isn’t build so much on the idea that there’s a book you can buy that will tell you all of the things you should and shouldn’t do, but instead is built on core principles (you can see those listed above). These core principles are very much the “guiding light” of authoritative parenting styles and are seen in just about any book you can buy.
If you’re looking to pick up some additional literature on how you can become a better parent, we have a few books that we’d highly recommend. We know that it’s not easy being a parent, which often means that you don’t have time to sit down and read an in-depth parenting manual that will give you all of the answers you’ll ever need. Instead, the books we’ve picked out take a look at parenting in a few different lights. In many cases, these books take a “top down” approach to parenting in that they see parenting as a cumulative approach, not something you can tackle situation by situation.
Unconditional Parenting: Moving From Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason – This first book isn’t so much a step by step guide as it is a “go at your own pace” type book. Many parents are under the impression that, like dogs, people should be rewarded for good and bad actions. Rewarding your child isn’t always the best way to get through to them. This book explains how it’s best to use reason and love with your child as opposed to simply giving them a toy or time to watch TV when they do something correctly.
If you’re looking for a good jumping off point, this is it. This book will by no means cover everything you need to know about authoritative parenting, but it’ll do a damn good job of getting you off on the right foot so that you can bring your child back into your life without pushing them farther away.
Getting to Calm: Cool Headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens + Teens: If you’re long past the days of rewarding your children with time in front of their video game consoles or in front of their TV, it’s time for this book. Managing teenagers is much harder than looking after a young child.
While it’ certainly helps if you have a strong foundation in place with your kids before you start teaching them how to be successful teenagers, this book understands that some kids aren’t brought up in an authoritative household. In addition to trying to correct past parenting inconsistencies, this book takes a very level headed approach to raising teenagers (even their rebellious nature).
Both of these books are widely considered “the essentials” in the authoritative parenting world, and they’re both extremely cheap. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand the strategies that they’re trying to employ, nor do you have to be the best parent in the world already to get a good grasp on how you can find things to change around your house.
Above all else, remember that parenting isn’t something that can be learned overnight, but is instead an art form that’s mastered over a number of years.
Don’t beat yourself up if things go wrong from time to time, as parenting isn’t something that’s set in stone. While being an authoritative parent, you have to realize that there’s a lot of give and take when it comes to your kids. By listening to them, chances are you’ll learn what they like and don’t like about what you’re doing, giving you the opportunity to change things that may not be best for the both of you.
As you read through parenting books, chances are you’ll stumble across this name. Diana Baumrind is one of the most widely regarded cognitive psychologists in the parenting world and her views on the way parenting styles have evolved are still referenced today. Diana Baumrind’s theory was that parenting could be broken into 3 different styles. We outlined those styles above as authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive.
Authoritative parents are the most level headed parents on the block and take the time to listen to and explain to their children why they’ve made the decisions they have. Instead of leaving kids in the dark about why a certain decision has been made, explain to them that it’s not OK to push their siblings around because, “XYZ.”
In contrast, authoritarian parents in general say “no” all the time, while permissive parents always say “yes.” All three of these styles are based around the idea that there’s a balance between responsiveness and demandingness that a parent must meet. Responsiveness is how much a parent responds to their child’s requests or demands, and demandingness is how much a parent demands of their children in exchange for “rewards” or for other things.
The perfect balance obviously falls within the authoritative parenting boundaries, meaning that a parent both gives and receives in their parenting style. A full Diana Baumrind biography can be found on Wikipedia here.
One of the biggest misconceptions about parenting is that whatever style you choose to adopt, you should be able to know the outcome before it happens. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Authoritative parenting effects can’t be known unless you try things out. Some new parents think that they can buy a book and find out all there is to know about what it means to be a parent.
Unfortunately, books can only guide you so far. To truly know what your child is going to turn out like, you’re going to have to try things out. Trial and error within a given parenting methodology is the best method of all.