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Authoritative Parenting versus Authoritarian Parenting

Parenting and Child Care
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Authoritative parenting is very different from authoritarian parenting. While authoritarian parenting can often have adverse consequences for a child, authoritative parenting is often considered by experts to be the best method of parenting.

What is Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting is a parenting method in which you clearly establish yourself as an authority to be respected, but in which you are also responsive to your child’s needs and maintain a nurturing home in which your child feels comfortable making mistakes and questioning rules.

Authoritative parents set clear guidelines and rules for their children. However, these rules are set with their child’s needs in mind. Children are encouraged to question the rules in order to fully understand them, and arbitrary rules do not exist. Disagreements are handled respectfully, and children believe that punishments- when handed out- are fair and understand that their parents are enforcing the rules because they love them.

What is Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parents, like authoritative parents, establish themselves as an authority. However, the key difference is that authoritarian parents are not responsive to their children’s needs. Rules are rigidly enforced, and punishment is often harsh and may include physical punishment such as spankings.

Children of authoritarian parents do not usually feel free to question or challenge, as unquestioned obedience is often required in an authoritarian home. Furthermore, authoritarian parents often set unreasonable expectations and children may begin to feel that they need to be perfect or fulfill these expectations in order to be loved.

Being Authoritative versus Authoritarian

It can be difficult to walk the fine line between being authoritative and authoritarian. The key is in the way you relate to your child. Authoritative parents lead by example, and hold themselves to the same standards as they hold their children. They speak respectfully to their children at all times and expect, rather than demand, the same in return.

Instead of trying to instill rote obedience, as authoritarian parents do, authoritative parents attempt to raise children who can think for themselves and make the proper decision. Like authoritarian parents, they set clear boundaries and rules and children understand that they must exist within these boundaries. However authoritarian parents may set rules ‘because I said so,’ while authoritative parents take the time to talk to their children, explaining rules, and rewarding positive behavior.

Authoritative parents too have high expectations for their children, but they work with their children to achieve these expectations instead of simply getting angry when a child falls short of the measure. This primary difference, between responsiveness and rigidity, is the key distinction between authoritative and authoritarian parents and can make all the difference in a child’s upbringing.

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