A key difference between authoritative and authoritarian parents is how they exercise their authority. For an authoritarian parent, their priority is to enforce compliance through any means, including: withdrawal of emotional warmth, harsh and arbitrary punishments, corporal punishment, threats, and coercion, etc. In contrast, an authoritative parent balances the goals of discipline/positive behaviors and fostering their child’s sense of autonomy.
Another reason why authoritative parenting sees more success is because of how they discipline their children. Authoritative parents often use inductive discipline- making their child understand and reflect on how their behavior affects others using reasoning and parental values. Furthermore, this approach helps develop self-regulation tools so that children can control their actions by:
- Use logical reasoning to evaluate why their actions were wrong and how this shapes future decision-making
- Emphasize empathy by supporting a intrinsic desire to help and be kind to others; this will also help with moral reasoning skills
- Emotion regulation by controlling impulses in pursuit of a longer term goal
What the science says
Benefits of authoritative parenting
- More resilient to failure and more inclined to meet challenges head on
- Promotes secure attachment between parent and child
- Better self-esteem and mental health as a whole
- Better social skills by reducing aggression among peers
- Decreases the chance of delinquency, alcohol/drug use, and other antisocial traits
- Less affected by peer pressure
Implications of authoritarian parenting
- Worse mental health and higher chance of depression
- Lower self-esteem compared to peers
- Higher chance of juvenile misbehaviors (delinquency, alcohol use)
- More likely to be involved in bullying
So authoritative parenting is the best?
Although research seems to imply that authoritative parenting is clearly better than authoritarian parenting, keep in mind that Baumrind’s theory still does not account for cultural differences in parenting styles. Many east asian parenting styles mimic the results produced by authoritative parenting styles but do not fit into Baumrind’s framework. Other studies also concluded mainstream parenting styles specific to different countries/regions affected outcomes; authoritative parenting may work well in the US, but permissive parenting works better in Spain!