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Authoritative vs Authoritarian Parenting

When your child refuses to drink milk what do you do?

Do you order them to drink it and not move unless they do or do you ask if they would want to choose their own cup for the milk?

When your child refuses to eat, do you command them to finish what is on their plate or give them a wide range of items to choose from?

Based on your answers you can find out whether you are an authoritative or authoritarian parent. Although they sound similar, they are anything but the same. Before we get into the differences between authoritarian and authoritative parents let us look at what other types of parenting styles there are:

  • Authoritative: an amalgamation of love, nurture, care, and strictness coupled with guiding the child and showing them right vs wrong and setting standards for behavior.
  • Authoritarian: setting standards for behavior which must be followed, ‘because I told you so’ objective.
  • Permissive: autonomy and independence to children with love and nurture.
  • Neglectful: hands-off approach with no involvement in the child’s life.

Every parent has a distinct set of expectations that their child must follow. As parents to children that can be easily influenced in a world that is not only unsafe but uncertain of its doings, it is quite common for parents to worry and be extremely careful of what your child eats, learns, adapts, who they make friends with and more. Parenting is a 24/7 job with minimal credits.

In such cases most parents adopt two styles of parenting methods. You can either be an authoritative or authoritarian parent. So, let us get in the depths of what these two styles are really like.

Authoritarian Parenting

This is a fear-based parenting style where parents believe that children must be fearful of their parents and avoid any wrong while doing exactly what is asked of them. Rules mean everything in such a household. Punishment and consequences exist for every job done badly or any job not done. Authoritarian parents do not like to compromise on their needs and set grand expectations with strong boundaries that need to be maintained. Studies have found that children belonging to authoritarian parents are less cheerful, moodier, prone to stress, prone to depression and lack self-esteem.

Authoritarian parents give orders and not requests. They discourage independent thinking and do not want the child to overstep. Authoritarian parents are strict and cold in nature.

Authoritative Parenting

Kids to authoritative parents have autonomy and independence as opposed to tight control. Authoritative parents closely monitor their children’s behavior and correct them as and when need be. A warm and supportive parent that nurtures and cares for their child is more likely to work effectively when it comes to avoiding circumstances that can misguide your child. Authoritative parents also involve the child in the decisions of the family. Making them feel like a part of larger decisions. They are strict and warm. These parents encourage modification of rules and allow the children to think critically about each rule and its logic. Children to authoritative parents have higher self-esteem, are more expressive, can speak their mind and are assertive. Authoritative parents set expectations and boundaries but are also calm and collective towards mistakes which are eventually logically explained and not harped upon.

What is interesting however is that authoritative parents allow children to have more freedom and autonomy but their standards are more or less high than authoritarian parents’ and they follow through on consequence more consistently.

What kind of parent are you? Or, what kind of parent do you want to be?

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