Comparison of Permissive & Authoritative Parenting Styles

The idea of parenting styles comes from the work of child development experts like Diana Baumrind, who classified them according to two factors: parental demandingness and parental responsiveness. "Demandingness" refers to the behavioral control that a parent exercises over her child. "Responsiveness" refers to a parent's emotional warmth and support for her child. Both permissive and authoritative styles have aspects in common, but they also have considerable differences. Before choosing a style, it's important to understand the long-term consequences of each 2.

Permissive Style

The permissive parenting style is high in responsiveness and low in demandingness 1. notes that permissive parents don't require mature behavior from their children and are lenient with them. These parents are often more concerned about affirming their children's feelings in the moment, as well as the avoidance of conflict. If a child begged his permissive mother for a piece of candy right before dinner, she would quickly submit to his demands, even though she knew it would ruin his appetite and overstimulate him.

Authoritative Style

The authoritative style is high in both responsiveness and demandingness. Authoritative parents set clear limits and boundaries for their children's behavior, and place importance on children learning from their own mistakes. These parents reason with their children and explain why limits and boundaries must be set, without always expecting their children to agree with them. Children of authoritative parents must meet high standards, yet the warmth and love of their parents is never in doubt. If a child begged his authoritative mother for a piece of candy right before dinner, she might respond by telling him that he would have to wait until after dinner, patiently explaining that a healthy meal should come first because it is better for his body than candy.

Children of Permissive Parents

According to Community Counseling Services, Inc, permissive parents raise children with higher self-esteem levels than those of their peers. These children also report lower levels of depression and better social skills. However, impulse control is often difficult for children of permissive parents. This contributes to the behavioral problems that these children tend to demonstrate at school, where their peers tend to outperform them academically. Children of permissive parents also tend to be immature and find it difficult to take responsibility for their actions.

Children of Authoritative Parents

Authoritative parents raise children who experience the best outcomes in terms of health and well-being, according to the University of Minnesota Extension. These children perform better academically than other children of permissive parents, while exhibiting fewer behavioral problems and greater self-control. Children of authoritative parents are able to accept themselves and others, and demonstrate honesty, compassion and a positive self-concept. These children are able to balance their own needs for independence and individuality with the demands and expectations of their parents.