When it comes to good parenting, one thing is for sure- there is no manual. More often than not, how you parent depends on how you were raised, your cultural background, religious beliefs, and level of education. However, studies and psychologists agree that while there is no one right way of doing things, one parenting style yields better results than the rest, and that’s authoritative parenting.
In the 1960s, psychologist Diana Baumrind detailed three types of parenting styles-authoritarian, permissive and authoritative. Between the three styles, authoritative parenting is the healthy balance where parents create a loving and supportive environment for their kids, while setting clear boundaries and expectations. Authoritative parents are responsive, nurturing, and involved in every aspect of their kids’ lives, but they never let the child get away with bad behaviour.
In a nutshell, authoritative parents
- Avoid punishments and threats and instead rely on strategies like positive reinforcement and consequences.
- Listen to their kids, provide love and warmth, and encourage independence.
- Administer fair discipline and place limits and consequences.
- Encourage their kids to discuss options and express their opinions.
- Act as role models and exhibit the behaviours they want to see in their children.
Summed up, the role authoritative parents take is that of trainers or coaches. They train kids to be self-disciplined, mature, autonomous, and to handle their emotions the right way. With this training, kids grow up with the skills needed to be good and responsible human beings.
Authoritative Parenting Examples for Teen Parents
- Your 15 year old thinks a 10 p.m. curfew is outrageous. Instead of putting your foot down and saying, ‘this is my house, and you will follow the rules or get out’, you sit down with the teen and discuss why that curfew exists, hear their opinions, and come up with an amicable solution.
- Your 16-year-old daughter has started wearing exposing outfits. Instead of burning the clothes or throwing them out, explain the implication of dressing like that and come up with what you both think is a fair compromise.
Advantages of Authoritative Parenting
- Accountability. Kids raised by authoritative parents understand that they are responsible for their choices. They have been taught the law of cause and effect and have been empowered to make good decisions without external influence. As a result, their kids learn to choose right over wrong and to think on their own
- Respect. With authoritative parents, kids go through emotional coaching- how do you react when angry, scared or sad? The parents also show them respect and allow certain freedoms. By doing so, these kids thrive in social settings and get along with others because they know how to handle themselves and others.
- Resilience. Authoritative parents allow their kids to fail and learn from their mistakes. Instead of rebuking and shaming them for failures, they guide them on overcoming life’s struggles and bouncing back. This increases the child’s confidence and self-esteem.
Disadvantages of Authoritative Parenting
For children, there is no downside to having authoritative parents. However, this style of parenting calls for extreme patience and the ability to adjust as you go. Kids go through several phases of life, and some will involve rebellion and impulsive behaviour, which can challenge any parent. Being an authoritative parent calls for some psychological know-how, problem-solving skills, and tactfulness.
Implications of Authoritative Parenting for Teens
In essence, authoritative parents provide the perfect growing environment for kids. There is unconditional love, support, discipline, and freedom of opinion. The warm and responsive type of parenting promotes independent thinking and secure attachments, which help kids choose good behaviour over bad most of the time.
- Kids are less likely to engage in drug use, violent activities, and any other antisocial behaviour.
- As teens, there will be less rebellion, aggression, and peer problems usually caused by the need to feel independent.
- Kids are more likely to be empathetic, kind, helpful, and popular.
- Kids are more attuned with their parents and are less likely to be influenced by their peers.
- Kids become resilient problem solvers, better learners, and leaders because they are encouraged to think for themselves. This trickles down to how they manage finances and how they handle failures in life.
- Authoritative parents teach their kids to have a sense of responsibility and to deal with their mistakes and failures in a healthy manner. These lessons will positively impact a child’s future financial decisions because they are not entitled, and they do not expect anyone to fix their messes.
- Kids are confident, have high self-esteem, and trust their own judgement, qualities that will come in handy when making financial decisions.
- Kids know how to handle crises and bounce back after a financial downfall like getting fired or losing everything.
To study the effect of various parenting styles on children’s health, researchers at the University of Oregon took saliva samples of 102 children. They looked at the levels of C-reactive protein, which measures the level of inflammation in the body, and secretory immunoglobulin A to measure immunity.
The results were clear. Kids from permissive parenting had low immunity because of chronic stress caused by a lack of structure and guidance. The lack of strong bond and attachment with authoritarian parents was also noted to cause poor health in kids. Overall, authoritative parenting seemed to have the best results as these kids receive love, nurturing, and boundaries.
In a different study, children of authoritative parents were seen to have higher levels of resilience and lower levels of depression and anxiety. This is because they were equipped with tools to deal with their emotions and try to solve problems instead of wallowing in sadness.
Studies show that just one authoritative parent can make a huge difference in shaping a child. However, the benefits of authoritative parenting can likely be maximised if both parents and the school engage the child along the same principles. Luckily, it’s possible to adjust your parenting style if you realise your current style is not working well.