How Does Authoritative Parenting Affect Children?

Your parenting methods may fit into one of a few different styles, with your specific style having a significant impact on your children. Established in the 1960s by psychologist Diana Baumrind, parenting styles include authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved. Authoritative parenting establishes firm and loving limits for children. By exploring the effects of authoritative parenting on children, you can understand how this parenting style may benefit your children.

Communication forms the foundation of the authoritative parenting model, as presented by Diana Baumrind in her report entitled, “Effects of Authoritative Parental Control on Child Behavior.” The authoritative parent encourages communication, yet maintains a loving bottom line of authority with the child 1. In addition, authoritative parents use loving responsiveness with children, states Javiette Samuel, Ph.D, with the Tennessee State University Cooperative Extension Program 2.

Authoritative Parenting in Action

Authoritative parents use a combination of love and limits with children to help children learn and develop independence. For example, parents using this parenting method might say, "I want you to stay off the top of the swing set because you could fall and hurt yourself." An authoritarian parent might say, "Come down from there immediately! Why? Because I said so, that's why!" Authoritative parenting involves a delicate balance of expectations and demands in a fair and responsive environment, according to the University of Minnesota Extension 2. Authoritative parents keep an open mind about issues and rules, and are willing to listen and consider the child’s opinions and viewpoints. In-depth discussions and respectful conversations between parents and offspring are common in a household with authoritative parents. Authoritative parents are also careful to institute clear, well-defined expectations with children that have reasonable consequences attached to each expectation.

Skills Developed

When children grow up with authoritative parents, they learn basic skills of discussion and conversation, enabling them to listen, converse and share thoughts effectively, states Kimberly Kopko, an extension associate with the Cornell University. Children often learn important skills of negotiation, as well. This equips children to give and take respectfully with other people, when arriving at a compromise. It’s common for these children to develop stronger social skills and exhibit more emotional control and maturity. In contrast, children of authoritarian parents may lack these negotiating and social skills, simply because they were never encouraged to develop and use them at home.

Personality Traits

The children who grow up in an authoritative household usually acquire a variety of positive personality traits. These children often have higher self-esteem and confidence because of the nurturing and encouraging environment. Children often exhibit higher levels of optimism, happiness, patience and emotional control, as well. Children with authoritative parents may be more socially competent, independent and responsible. The firm but loving authoritative parenting style often produces more competent and creative children, because they are encouraged to follow their innate interests and gifts, states Baumrind. Children of authoritarian parents may act out rebelliously or become overly dependent on parents. Children of permissive parents may lack self-control and they may exhibit egocentric characteristics, according to Kopko.