Relationship Between Parenting Styles & Academic Achievement

The four parenting styles -- authoritarian, authoritative, permissive and uninvolved -- affect children in different ways. Because of their strong influences on a child’s personality, many researchers have investigated the link between parenting style and academic performance and have found a strong connection. Parents who care about their children's academic performance should familiarize herself with these parenting styles, adapting a new one if they feel it will better serve their kids' goals.


The authoritarian parenting style puts an emphasis on a child’s submission to parental demands. Parents using this style tend to be strict, emotionally distant and demanding. As family studies expert Abdorreza Kordi points out in “Parenting Attitude and Its Effect on Children’s School Achievements,” this style is common among Asian families. The statistical fact that Asian children often outperform their counterparts might lead some to believe that the authoritarian style is the best for academic purposes, which is can be due to its ability to put pressure on children to perform well in school. However, the constant demands and directions of parents can lead children to overly rely on parents for guidance, which can hurt creative endeavors or academic performance in classes that require high amounts of creative energy, such as the arts.


The authoritative style shares many similarities with the authoritarian style in that it also puts demands on children and pressures them to perform well in their academic endeavors. However, it differs in that authoritative parents are emotionally close to their children, engaging their children in discussions of feelings and personal issues. According to relationship psychologist John Gottman, author of “Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child,” the authoritative style is often preferable to the authoritarian style because it is less harmful to a child’s self-esteem and ability to think autonomously 1. The authoritative style brings the advantages of the authoritarian style without the disadvantages. Compared to children raised in authoritarian styles, children raised by authoritative parents are often focused on achievement for personal, internal reasons, not to please their parents. For this reason, they are more willing to engage themselves in studies and topics that interest them and fields that they feel confident in.


The permissive style drops the strictness of the authoritative style but keeps the emotional closeness. While this sounds like a good style, it can be detrimental to a child’s emotional performance because it lacks the pressure that authoritative and authoritarian parents put on their kids. For this reason, children have more free rein over their activities and will often neglect their studies in favor of more immediate and entertaining achievements, such as playing and making friends. While children raised in permissive families tend to be self-confident, they often have trouble with self-control and understanding the importance of boundaries, two concepts important in academic performance.


The uninvolved parenting style is objectively the worst. Uninvolved parents are neither demanding nor emotionally involved. They give their children complete control over their school work and do not help their kids through emotional or personal problems. As moms likely already know, a child without boundaries or emotional support is a child who will not study. These children tend to perform poorly in school. Parents employing an uninvolved style will need to make drastic changes if they hope to bring their children’s academic performance up.