Authoritative Parenting: Characteristics and Effects


What is Authoritative Parenting?

A parent with an authoritative style is demanding, but also responsive.

Demanding: Parents have high yet reasonable expectations and set rules to guide their children’s decision making.

Responsive: Parents have a high degree of warmth and nurturing where children’s thoughts, opinions and feelings are taken into consideration. Being responsive is the difference between authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles.

Some examples of authoritative parenting include:

  • Saying “let’s talk about it” when a child is disobedient or has a challenge they are dealing with
  • Parents allow children to make their own decisions
  • Parents explore with their child how behavior is connected to natural consequences as opposed to made up consequences (punishments)

Effects of Authoritative Parenting on Children

Child development experts generally identify authoritative parenting as the best approach to parenting. According to research, children of authoritative parents are:

  • Happy
  • Successful
  • Well-liked by peers
  • Self-determined
  • More likely to make good decisions as adults
  • More likely to resist peer pressure
  • Better able to regulate themselves

Why Authoritative Parenting Works

Why are there so many positive effects from this approach to parenting?  To understand why these benefits occur, we can look at each characteristic of this parenting style:

  • Responsive: Authoritative parents are nurturing and supportive of their child’s emotional and developmental needs. This in turn leads children to develop secure attachments and fosters their cognitive development.
  • Positive Example: Authoritative parents act as a role model and exhibit the same behaviors they expect from their own children. When parents model good emotional control, their children also learn to manage and self-regulate their emotions which is key for a child’s success.
  • Autonomy- Authoritative parents allow children to act independently. This teaches children that they are capable of making their own decisions and fosters strong self-esteem and self-confidence.

The style takes a lot of effort, but it pays off because it creates children who are more capable, happy, and successful. This style involves balance, but with practice, time, and patience, this parenting method can become more natural.

Call for comments:

What examples and effects have you experienced with authoritative parenting either as a child or a parent?

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