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Raising Resilient Kids: The ABCs of Authoritative and Authoritarian Parenting

Sep 13, 2023

Now that school is back in session and our kids’ schedules are becoming more congested with activities and obligations, it’s important to provide structure and set boundaries. Organizing these healthy parental designs helps shape kids’ development and well-being. Boundaries are healthy and necessary for children- especially because kids always want things their way and their preferences are not always in their best interest. Sometimes, we just need to say, “No!” and that is healthy thing to do.

My first newsletter, coming out this month, talks about how to listen to our kids; I have also written about how to talk to them - How to Raise Children Who Feel Loved and Connected. For this article, I want to hi-light 2 of the 4 parenting styles that have been identified and initially coined in the 1960s by psychologist, Diana Baumrind, when she conducted extensive research on parenting styles. These categories have been influential in the field of psychology and parenting studies. They are: Authoritative, Authoritarian, Permissive, and Neglectful or Uninvolved. In this article, I am going to focus on Authoritarian and Authoritative styles.

Authoritative parents are warm, responsive, and empathetic. They provide emotional support to their children and create a loving environment. They establish clear rules and guidelines for their children's behavior, which helps children understand boundaries and expectations. Authoritative parents encourage independence and self-discipline in their children. They foster autonomy and decision-making skills. They promote open dialogue and encourage their children to express their thoughts and feelings. This leads to healthy parent-child communication and helps children develop strong interpersonal skills. Children raised with Authoritative parenting tend to have higher self-esteem and self-confidence due to the supportive environment they grow up in.

The Authoritative parenting style requires a significant investment of time and effort from parents to provide the necessary guidance and support. Although open communication is encouraged, disagreements can arise between parents and children when negotiating rules and expectations. Striking the right balance between nurturing and setting boundaries can be challenging for Authoritative parents.

Regardless of the challenges that Authoritative parenting can bring, it is a recommended choice. Open communication and natural consequences, setting clear rules and expectations, solving problems together with your child, helps a healthy child develop. Boundaries are necessary for children. Confident, assertive, reliable parenting is healthy parenting and kids need this structure in order to grow and thrive.

Authoritarian style is very parent-driven. It is one-way communication with little consideration of the child’s social, emotional, and behavioral needs and focused on punishment and strict rules. This style may hinder connection with your child, limit children’s autonomy and decision-making abilities, and cause possible rebellion or development of fear-based obedience, where they comply solely to avoid punishment rather than understanding the reasons behind rules.

On the upside, Authoritarian parents establish strict rules and expectations, providing a clear structure for children's behavior. Children raised in an Authoritarian parenting style tend to be obedient and follow rules due to the consistent enforcement of discipline. This parenting style instills respect for authority figures and adherence to societal norms. By enforcing rules and restrictions, Authoritarian parents strive to protect their children from potential harm.

All parenting styles have positive aspects. Authoritarian parents may provide structure and discipline; Permissive parents can create a nurturing atmosphere, and Neglectful parents may have reasons beyond their control for their style.

Ultimately, the Authoritative style is often considered the healthiest because it combines elements of structure and emotional support, promoting a well-rounded upbringing. However, parenting isn't one-size-fits-all, and different children may thrive in different environments. Individual outcomes may vary depending on various factors such as the child's temperament, cultural influences, and the specific context in which parenting occurs. Respect for diverse parenting approaches is essential to support all families.

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