Authoritative vs. Authoritarian Parenting


Authored by Douglas Mefford in Parenting
Published on 01-16-2010

There are many ways in which you can raise your children. Some parenting methods tend to work well and develop strong, well-developed adults. Other methods, while quite common, are not noted for their emphasis on emotional self-development for the child. Two major styles of parenting are the authoritarian system and the similar, but significantly different, authoritative parenting model.

Authoritarian parents tend to place an excess of worth on the aspects of disciplining a child. It has been proven that growing children do need limits to their behavior so the authoritarian will be very strict in the allowed behavior of their child. Authoritarian child rearing methodology has been called “punitive”. The Child is not normally given reason or explanation for the rules or the punishments beyond the, “Because I say so,” statement. While expecting much from their children, authoritarian parenting tends to decrease the child’s social self-confidence by not allowing the child to learn choice.

Authoritative parenting leans toward allowing the child to have the right to know why the rules are such and what to expect when broken. As with authoritarian parenting, the authoritative parent has high expectations for his child’s development. The major difference is that a dialogue is developed between parent and child. Options are explored and, in a less restrictive manner, the child can learn valuable decision making skills.

A lot of the authoritarian power base is achieved through parental intimidation of the child. Those who follow this parenting style tend to react angrily when their authority is questioned or tested by the growing child. Respect of one’s elders is a strong theme within the authoritarian child rearing method. The authoritarian parent will often choose the life-path the child is supposed to follow. They often feel that any independent behavior in the child is a threat to their planned outline for their offspring. Research shows that even if the child “toes the line” in an authoritarian parenting system, they will often emerge into adulthood more socially withdrawn and exhibiting a low self-esteem.

Authoritative parents do tend to help their child’s self-esteem even when following strict guidelines. Communication between parent and child has proven to be a primary factor in good interpersonal relationships. By at least allowing the child explanations of required behavior the parent can realize more practical goals for their children. The authoritative parent is less likely to respond with anger to a rebellion against their rule. By realizing that they can develop better-adjusted and competent children through a more reasonable response to infractions, the parent can enjoy a warmer relationship with their child.

These are but two of many parenting systems available. Both of the discussed parental systems are designed to exert the maximum amount of control and discipline on the child. Of the two, authoritative parenting seems to create more self-assured, functional adults than the authoritarian method. Learn to recognize the style of parenting you are using on your children and make sure to help guide them towards a path of fulfillment in their lives.


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