Authoritative vs Authoritarian Parenting: Which One Is Yours

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Parenting is an art. Master it, and your kids will succeed in life, mess it up and your children will be the victims. There are no set rules or a guide for you to follow as a parent. Parenting depends on your family set-up and the societal environment that you live in. However, experts have broadly divided parenting into various styles. The prominent among them are authoritative and authoritarian parenting styles. MomJunction explains you about the two styles – Authoritative vs Authoritarian Parenting, and know which one could suit you better.

Authoritarian Parenting: What It Means:

Diana Baumrind was a developmental psychologist who described at length about various parenting styles during the 1960s. Her approach towards the styles and the results were based on research that she conducted over a period with pre-school age children. One of the main parenting styles that she spoke about was the authoritarian style.

  • In the authoritarian style of parenting, you will have very high expectations from your child but will not proactively provide any feedback or inputs for him to reach the goal.
  • Even if you provide any feedback, it is mostly negative. In fact, most parents who follow this parenting style often shout at their child and indulge in corporal punishment.
  • You will be a disciplinarian who would enforce strict rules.
  • While you would want to take a lot of your child, there is little that you would give in terms of guidance.
  • If your child is not able to meet those demands or makes a mistake, you will often react harshly and punish your child for the same.

[ Read: Authoritarian Parenting ]

Characteristics Of Authoritarian Parenting And Effects On The Child:

Here are some of the most common characteristics of the authoritarian style of parenting:

1. Have Total Control:

The parent is at the helm of affairs. They have total control over the child. Instead of allowing your child to speak up his mind and follow a cordial parent and child relationship, you will set all the rules and expect your children to follow them.

Effect On Child: The child is low in self-confidence and will find it difficult to take decisions on his own. When faced with a situation where he has to come up with a quick solution, he will remain indecisive.

2. Negative Reaction To Failure:

With an emphasis on success, you will have a myopic view towards failure. If the child fails in spite of giving his best shot, you do not recognize his effort.

Effect On Child: Before your child even attempts something, he will be worried about the consequences of his failure. The fear of facing criticism can create stress and anxiety in your child, hampering his performance and leading to poor results. Constant criticism and negativity will only make her less confident and afraid of taking up challenges in the future.

[ Read: Top 15 Parenting Styles ]

3. You Will Tell, Not Explain:

Instead of sitting down with your children and telling them why you want them to behave a certain way, you will simply instruct them on what to do. As an authoritarian parent, you will think that your children have to follow your rules and wishes, even if they do not properly understand the reason behind it.

Effect On Child: When your child is not aware of why she has to do something and how it can benefit her, she will tend to lose interest in the same. Also, it will just be a way of doing things out of rote or routine, without having any real idea of the ‘why’ and ‘what’. She will soon lose her instinct of questioning. As a result, it will dull her cognitive abilities and her tendencies to ask and learn more.

4. No Display Of Emotion:

While you will instill very strict rules and regulations for your children, you will hardly leave any space to express emotions. Even though you may love your children, you will try to keep your emotions in check and rarely display happiness or excitement. Your behavior towards your children will be more archaic and robotic, and not governed by love.

Effect On Child: Throughout the growing up phase, your child will find it difficult to express her emotions, as she will feel guilty of expressing herself in front of you. Over time, it can lead to severe stress in her, resulting in serious issues. Often children who are unable to express themselves freely find it difficult to maintain healthy adult relationships.

Authoritative Parenting: What It Means:

Parents who follow the authoritative style do set rules for their children but are not rigid.

  • Even as you formulate a plan and schedule for your child, you will keep your child’s interests in mind. You will balance it in such a way that there is room for improvement and growth of your child.
  • Though you will keep a stern hold on your child, you will not shy away from expressing your love and concern.
  • You will keep in mind the fact that you can always bend the rules and make changes to allow more options that will help your child.

[ Read: Authoritative Parenting ]

Characteristics Of Authoritative Parenting And Effects On The Child:

Here are some of the most common characteristics of the authoritative style of parenting:

1. Listen To The Child:

Even though you will set the rules and be the final decision maker, you will pay attention to what your child thinks and has to say. Instead of just telling your child to do something, you will let her share her point of view.

Effect On Child: When you allow your child to speak her mind, it will help to boost her confidence and encourage her to think things through. She knows that in order for you to approve of what she says, she will have to be clear in her points and present them to you accordingly. It will improve her thinking as well as her verbal expressions.

2. Will Encourage Independence:

In your attempt to know what will work best for your child, you will often ask her to think through and be a part of the decision-making process. You will expect your child to do what you say, but you will also want her to be proactive and understand what is best for her.

Effect On Child: Your child will learn the importance of open thinking and will be good at taking decisions. You may be the final authority on rules but because you took her interests into account, it will be easier for her to want to follow the same, instead of feeling forced to do so.

3. Place Practical Limits And Expectations:

You will place limits on your child, covering various aspects of her life. From your child’s academic life to her social life and even things she does at home, you will have a clear set of instructions and expectations.

Effect On Child: When your child knows your expectations and the limits you set for her, it will be easier for her to follow a schedule. As a result, she will become more disciplined and will have a structured lifestyle.

4. Will Be Expressive And Caring:

Most of your decisions will be based on love and concern for your child. As a result, you will make sure that whatever you ask your child to do is not something that makes her uncomfortable, or is something that you know she cannot do. You will not insult your children in case they are not able to meet up to your expectations. While you will want them to excel in whatever they do, you will value their approach and effort, not just perfection.

Effect On Child: Your child will understand that you have her best interests in mind. As a result, she will want to work hard for your approval and appreciation. It will not only boost her morale to hear your words of encouragement but also help her become better at handling people. As you will respect her feelings, she will learn to express herself better.

Authoritative vs Authoritarian Parenting Styles – What Studies Say:

Baumrind has come up with four parenting styles: Authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent and uninvolved parenting.

Indulgent or permissive parenting is a style where parents care a lot about their children but do not have any expectations from them or put any restrictions.
Uninvolved parents do not have the warmth towards their children and do not place any restrictions or expectations on them.

1. Authoritarian Is Good But Authoritative Is Better:

Authoritarian parenting is better than permissive and uninvolved styles, but authoritative is the best style of parenting.

University of New Hampshire researcher Rick Trinkner says: “The style that parents used to rear their children had a direct influence on whether those children perceived their parents as legitimate authority figures. Adolescents who perceived parents as legitimate were then less likely to engage in delinquent behavior. Thus, authoritative parenting may be more effective than the other styles because this style makes adolescents more willing to accept their parents’ attempts to socialize them and subsequently follow their rules.

“Conversely, authoritarian parents have the opposite effect in that they reduce the likelihood of their children perceiving their authority as legitimate. Adolescents from authoritarian parents are more likely to resist their parents’ attempts at socialization.”

[ Read: Parenting Problems And Solutions ]

2. Linked To Cultures:

Parenting is linked to ethnicity and culture, as one research in the US has found that authoritative parenting style is mostly followed by the white families while authoritarian is common with ethnic minority families such as African American, Asian American, and Hispanic American (1).

3. Behavioral Issues:

Journal of Education and Human Development has published that children from authoritarian families perform better and involve lesser in behavioral problems when compared to those from permissive families. But they perform poorer than children from the authoritative background.

According to Ginsburg & Bronstein (1993), authoritarian parenting will bring up girls who are less independent, boys who are aggressive, and children who are discontent (2).

Authoritative parenting results in children, especially women, with high self-esteem.

4. Anxiety And Depression:

Research by the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work in 2015 revealed that authoritarian style could lead to anxiety, depression, and somatization (3).

Research lead Esther Calzada said: “Parents’ adherence to respeto (respect) may impact children not only by fostering authoritarian parenting styles but also directly, by making young children more nervous or distressed during interactions with adults who hold clear authority, such as teachers.”

There is no restriction on the parents to follow a certain style as they would change based on the situation.

Trinkner sums up: “While it is generally agreed that authoritative parenting is more effective than authoritarian and permissive styles, little is known about why some parenting styles are more efficient than others. Our results showed that parental legitimacy was an important mechanism by which parenting styles affected adolescent behavior” (4).

What type of parent are you, an authoritarian one or an authoritative? Let us know your views by penning down your comments below.

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