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Authoritative Parenting Style:
Reasoning, Consulting, Responsive

The authoritative parenting style, is a term Diana Baumrind, coined in her research about parenting. From her observations about how parents controlled and motivated their children, she developed her 3 Parenting Styles: Firstly, Authoritarian Parenting Style or strict parenting; Permissive Parenting, sometimes referred to as indulgent parenting, and Authoritative Parenting, as I'll talk about here.

Authoritative parenting is seen as a more middle of the road, rational approach to parenting. This style of parenting is warm and nurturing and responsive to the needs or demands of their children. The authoritative parenting style respects the rights of children to have a say and to be independent thinkers.

Authoritative parents have high expectations of cooperation from their children, and are happy to discuss the rationale behind rules and boundaries, even willing to negotiate. Explanations about consequences of behavior would be given, and punishments would seldom be harsh. Unlike Authoritarian Parenting, withdrawal of love and approval, shaming or using fear to control a child's behavior would not be used.

What Does Research About Authoritative Parenting Style Tell Us?

Children raised under the Authoritative Parenting Style, would get lots of parental support and encouragement. Some research has shown children raised with the authoritative parenting style, succeed better in school and are more likely to go on to a college education.

Other studies show children who have limits and rules enforced reasonably, are less likely to get involved in drugs and juvenile crime, whereas children raised by authoritarian, harsh parenting or overly permissive parenting, had a higher risk.

When analysing styles of parenting or reading research, it is important to note, there are a lot of variables that come into play that may effect the outcome of the research. For example, because of the ethics involved in child research, many studies depend heavily on parent questionnaires. This means the outcome is very subjective - one parent may see themselves as being very warm and nurturing, whereas another may see that same behavior as being overly authoritarian.

There is also a lot of discussion about the relevance for different ethnicities and cultures. I remember reading some Spanish research that suggested children raised with a permissive parenting style succeeded better academically. However there are many more questions to be answered. For example, what kind of behavior would Spanish parents think is Permissive vs Authoritative Parenting?

Even when research is conducted by observation, the subjectivity of the observer has an effect. Even when grading something like how warm and responsive a parent is towards a child, three different observers may have three different responses.

As a parent we are often bombarded with information about how to be a better parent - including this website! I think it is important to question how you were raised and choose to parent more consciously rather than necessarily simply raising our children on automatic or the way we were raised. But the bottom line, is as parents you have to choose what works for your family.

One thing that does seem to be consistent across the research into the Authoritative Parenting Style - there does not seem to be any evidence that this style of parenting has a negative effect - unlike some of the other parenting styles.

For more about Authoritative parenting style, read the Four Basic Parenting Styles developed by Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin, who expanded the Baumrind Three types of Parenting style.

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