What is Authoritative Parenting? + Examples

Last Updated on April 28, 2021 by Michele Tripple

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Authoritative Parenting is a type of parenting that combines limit-setting with high levels of warmth from parents. Learn all about the advantages of using this parenting style to see if it is a good fit for your life!

Authoritative Parenting

Before I had kids I dreamt that I would be a parent that was always full of love and compassion that had the patience of a saint. I would also have perfect kids that did not need discipline because they were little angels… Cue the laughter, right? When needed I would set reasonable limits and show an abundance of love and affection for my little ones. Of course, I knew I would never yell or use empty threats or bribery to get my kids to obey. 

And then I had kids. Suddenly those became dreams that I get a good laugh from every single day. I began to wonder if it was possible for ANYONE to be that kind of parent.

I have spent years figuring out my parenting style and shaping it into something that I want it to be. The more I’ve learned, the more I’ve seen the benefits from implementing parenting styles like authoritative parenting.

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What is Authoritative Parenting?

Authoritative parenting is not new. It is one of four parenting styles that were described as early as the 1960’s. (The other types are permissive parenting, authoritarian parenting, and uninvolved parenting.) Authoritative parenting requires parents to set rules and limits for their kids while also maintaining a high level of responsiveness to their kid’s needs. 

In order to put this parenting style into practice it is important to understand the key characteristics of authoritative parents. Once we do this we can start setting and accomplishing goals to be a more authoritative parent.

Key points of Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting requires discipline that is consistent and fair. Parents who practice this parenting style understand that when rules are broken, there needs to be consequences.

  • Nurturing and warmth are key components of authoritative parenting. This high level of love mixed with reasonable expectations helps children develop independence.
  • Parents who practice this parenting style listen to their kids and encourage them to explore their options.
  • Authoritative parenting also involves consequences that fit the wrong that was done. Parents who use this style understand the need for natural consequences.

Pros of Authoritative Parenting

There are many wonderful things about authoritative parenting.

  • Authoritative parenting puts an emphasis on accountability. This is both for kids and parents. Everyone is held accountable for their actions.
  • This style of parenting understands the importance of respect. Parents show respect to their kids by giving them some freedom and respecting their wishes where kids give their parents respect back.
  • Resiliency is built as parents allow their kids to learn from their mistakes. The focus on natural consequences helps kids to understand the impact their choices have on themselves and others.

Authoritative parenting is a great tool for parents to be supportive of their kids – in whatever way their kids need support.

Cons of Authoritative Parenting

It seems like this is the perfect parenting style, but there are some cons to Authoritative  parenting.

  • Kids normally experience times in their life when they are rebellious. These instances can be very hard for authoritative parents because they tend to have high expectations for their kids. 
  • Parents may find it hard to figure out a balance between giving their kids freedom and still disciplining when necessary.

How to Practice Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parents know when to set limits and when to allow freedoms. How exactly you do this depends on yourself and your kids. 

Some ideas on how you may practice authoritative parenting are:

  • Setting guidelines for screen time. Consider monitoring what your children watch and play on screens and have set times when they are able to do those things. Don’t be afraid to include your kids in making decisions about their screen use.
  • Jobs and chores. Authoritative parents likely will have rules on things that need to be finished before their kids can play with friends or watch TV. Maybe you would like their rooms to be clean, their homework to be done, or other daily chores completed. Whatever the rules, it is really up to you (but again, don’t forget to include your kids in the rule-setting!). 
  • Food. Most authoritative parents don’t give their kids full access to the kitchen at all times. Usually, they have set times for meals and snacks throughout the day. Consider offering small snacks between meals (especially if you have a kid who is a snacker). In addition, when serving meals, don’t try to force your kids to eat. You control what is served, your kids control how much they eat (or if they eat at all). 

Disciplining using Authoritative Parenting

Disciplining is always a tough subject. Often parents do not want to be seen as “the bad guy” or they feel that effective discipline isn’t worth the battle.

Authoritative parents understand that discipline is never a way to control their kids. It is a way to teach kids about natural consequences. This helps kids grow into respectful, self-reliant people. 

The key part of disciplining using Authoritative parenting is to focus on the natural consequence. 

For example You’re going to the park and your five-year-old does not want to wear their coat. You know that it’s cold enough outside that they’ll want it, but they refuse. Instead of forcing them to make the right choice, you’re going to explain to them what the consequence will be – “When you do not wear your coat you are going to be cold and we will have to leave the park sooner.” 

Notice how we use the word “when instead of if” This allows you to help your child, but helps your child to think they are still in control to make the decision. More often than not they will listen when you use when and not if. 

You then go to the park, with or without the coat. Maybe your kid gets cold and complains. You remind them of the choice that they made. They may decide they are ready to go home because they are cold. Or they might decide that they are fine being cold. Either way, you have shown them the natural consequences of their actions. This type of discipline is much more effective than other types – “Put your coat on or no TV for the rest of the day.”

Whatever the misbehavior, there is always a natural consequence.

Other Examples of Natural Consequences

  • Your kid throws their toy – they lose that toy.
  • Your kid doesn’t eat their dinner – the food gets packed away and they do not get a second dinner.
  • Your kid doesn’t clean up a game when they were finished with it – the game gets put away and they don’t get to have it for the rest of the day.

No matter the action, make the consequences natural and reasonable.

What do you like about this style of parenting? Share in the comments! 

For more parenting ideas, check these out!

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