There is no such thing as a perfect parenting manual. Kids are different. Parents are different. Culture and money and location and siblings and life situations – they’re all different. Most of those who are parents are just here, doing their best, trying to make sure their child is as successful and happy as they can be once they’re out of the house.
But while we can never be *certain* that a specific parenting technique will work, there is information on ways that are more likely to have the outcomes we want as parents. Two techniques, which have similar names and have some characteristics in common, are “authoritative parenting” and “authoritarian parenting.” While there is no guarantee that parenting style will be more effective than another, research points to a clear choice between the two parenting styles.
What is Authoritarian Parenting?
Authoritarian parenting is parenting with very strict top-down rules. The parent is the “Boss,” and the child will listen to the parent or be punished. An authoritarian parent makes choices for the child, and the child has no say in those choices. Typically, authoritarian parents also have considerable structure, sometimes – but not always – aimed at maximizing achievement and ability.
What is Authoritative Parenting?
Authoritative parenting still has structure, but it’s a bit more relaxed. The parent is still the boss, but the children are allowed to communicate their tastes and appeal to the parent. Decisions may also be left to the child. There are boundaries and expectations that children are expected not to cross, as with authoritarian parenting, but parents tend to be more supportive and nurturing to their child’s feelings rather than focus mostly on the parent’s feelings.
What Parenting Style Has Better Outcomes?
The description of each style likely gives away which parenting technique leads to better outcomes, but the answer is authoritative parenting, and it is not even very close. Children of authoritative parents tend to be more successful, happier, perform better in school, and have stronger parent-child relationships. They may also be more creative and better able to express their emotions.
Children of authoritative parents – despite these parents often requiring activities designed to help the child succeed academically – are less likely to be happy and more likely to perform poorly in school. They may also not have a strong bond with their parent in ways that can hurt them when they leave the home. Children of authoritative parents are still known to obtain “Good Jobs” and achieve work-related goals, but their satisfaction level at these positions is low, and they may struggle with things like emotional regulation and stress management.
No Such Thing as a Perfect Parent
We can all struggle with parenthood. Raising children is hard. Most people do not consciously decide to be authoritarian or authoritative parents. But, while we can never fully know how our child will respond to our parenting as they reach adulthood, we can do our best to make sure that we’re making smarter decisions now to help put our children in a position to thrive.
If you’ve been struggling with parenting, or your child could use psychological support, please contact Right Path Counseling, today.