Authoritative and Authoritarian Parenting Styles
Educators and mental health professionals have extensively studied the effects of various parenting
styles. Ranging from authoritarian to permissive, these parenting styles can have an effect on
children's development and behavior. To discover their impact on development, much research has
focused on the differences between authoritarian and authoritative parenting, concluding that the
latter is more effective than the former. This article is an overview of the current literature on this
Authoritative vs. Authoritarian Parenting
Coplan, Hastings, Lagace-Seguin, and Moulton (2002) have described authoritarian parenting as
being characterized by "power assertion without warmth, nurturance, or two-way communication"
(p. 2). On the contrary, Garcia and Gracia (2009) have defined those with an authoritative style as
being "warm and responsive parents that provide at the same time firm control and maturity
demands" (p. 101).
Researchers seem to describe authoritarian parents as setting rules but providing little warmth,
whereas authoritative parents set boundaries but remain warm and nurturing. It seems that the lack
of warmth displayed by authoritarian parents leads them to be less effective in raising well-adjusted,
Parenting Styles and Children's Behavior
Psychological research has begun to paint a
negative picture of authoritarian parenting,
especially as it relates to children's behavior.
In fact, authoritarian parenting is so
ineffective that Thompson, Hollis, and
Richards (2003) have discovered that
authoritarian disciplining methods lead to an
increased risk of conduct problems among
children at both chiangmai ages five and10.
Additional research has supported this
finding. Smith and Hall (2008) concluded that
children raised by authoritarian parents
displayed significantly more symptoms of
conduct disorder than those from
authoritative homes. So, while authoritarian parents may aim to promote acceptable behavior among
their children, the methods by which they do so are detrimental.
Fortunately, authoritative parenting styles seem to be effective in promoting acceptable behavior
among children. M. Takeuchi and S. Takeuchi (2008) have found that authoritative parenting is more
successful than authoritarian parenting because its results in parents having a greater influence
over their children's behavior. They also asserted that children raised by authoritarian parents tend
to be more compliant.
Additional research has found authoritative parenting to efficacious. Paulussen-Hoogeboom, Stams,
Hermanns, Peetsma, and Van Den Wittenboer (2008) have determined that among young children,
an authoritative parenting style is associated with fewer incidences of negative externalizing
behaviors, such as hyperactivity, aggression, and disobedience. That being said, it seems that an
authoritative parenting style may serve to prevent the behaviors that parents find upsetting in their
children, making it superior to an authoritarian approach.
Parenting Styles and School Performance
Authoritarian parenting is also associated with poorer academic performance. Dornbusch, Ritter,
Leiderman, Roberts, and Fraleigh (1987) found that authoritarian parenting was correlated with
significantly lower grades than authoritative parenting. In fact, it was more negatively associated
with grades than the permissive parenting style, according to Dornbusch et al.
Academic performance is certainly a pertinent aspect of a child's life; fortunately authoritative
parenting is related to better performance in school. Steinberg, Elmen, and Mounts (1989) have
discovered that authoritative parenting is associated with higher grade-point averages in school, and
they have asserted that this style of parenting "facilitates adolescents' academic success" and leads
to a "healthy psychological orientation toward work" (p. 1433).
Additional research has analyzed the relationships between college success and authoritative
parenting, reinforcing the positive link between the parenting style and academic performance.
Blondal and Adalbjarnardottir (2009) have observed that adolescents who at age 14 believed their
parents to be authoritative are more likely to complete college by age 22 than those from
authoritarian or neglectful backgrounds.
Parenting Styles and Psychological Well-Being
Behavioral and academic issues are not the only detriments associated with an authoritarian
parenting style; children raised by parents with authoritarian attitudes are also at an increased risk
of suffering from low self-esteem. For example, Lamborn, Dornbusch, Steinberg, and Mounts (1991)
have found that children raised by authoritarian parents are no better off in terms of positive self
perception than children reared by neglectful parents. Milevsky, Schlechter, Netter, and Keehn
(2007) have reached a similar conclusion, having found that children raised by authoritarian parents
have significantly lower self-esteem than those who grow up with permissive or authoritative
An authoritative parenting style also seems to promote psychological well-being among children.
Timpano, Keough, Mahaffey, Schmidt, and Abramowitz (2010) have conducted research regarding
obsessive-compulsive disorder and found that children raised by authoritative parents display fewer
obsessive-compulsive symptoms than those raised by authoritarian parents.
Additional research has suggested that authoritative parenting increases general happiness and
well-being. Suldo and Huebner (2004) have concluded that children raised by authoritative parents
demonstrate high levels of life satisfaction, even when factors such as age, socioeconomic status,
race, and family structure are considered. In a study of adolescents, Liem, Cavell, Lustig (2010)
found that authoritative parenting was associated with healthier self-development and fewer
symptoms of depression during young adulthood, suggesting that authoritative parenting promotes
psychological well-being that extends beyond childhood.
Taken together, studies regarding, academic performance, self-esteem, and behavior seem to
indicate that authoritarian parenting styles are not entirely effective; however, authoritative styles of
parenting seem to be superior and efficacious.
Blondal, K.S., Adalbjarnardottir, S. (2009). Parenting practices and school dropout: a longitudinal
study. Adolescence, 44(176), 729-749.
Coplan, R.J., Hastings, P.D., Lagace-Seguin, D.G., Moulton, C.E. (2002). Authoritative and
authoritarian mothers' parenting goals, attributions, and emotions across different childrearing
constructs. Parenting: Science Practice, 2(1), 1-26.
Dornbusch, S., Ritter, P., Leiderman, P., Roberts, D., Fraleigh, M. (1987). The relation of parenting
style to adolescent school performance. Child Development, 58(5), 1244-1257.
Garcia, F., Gracia, E. (2009). Is always authoritative the optimum parenting style? Evidence from
Spanish families. Adolescence, 44(173), 101-131.
Lamborn, S.D., Dornbusch, S.M., Steinberg, L., Mounts, N.S. (1991). Patterns of competence and
adjustment among adolescents from authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and neglectful families.
Child Development, 62(5), 1049-1065.
Liem, J., Cavell, E., Lustig, K. (2010). The influence of authoritative parenting during adolescence on
depressive symptoms in young adulthood: examining the mediating roles of self-development and
peer support. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 171(1), 73-92.
Milevsky, A., Schlechter, M., Netter, S., Keehn, D. (2007). Maternal and paternal parenting styles in
adolescents: associations with self-esteem, depression, and life-satisfaction. Journal of Child Family
Studies, 16(1), 39-47.
Paulussen-Hoogeboom, M., Stams, G., Hermanns, J., Peetsma, T., and Van Den Wittenboer, G.
(2008). Parenting style as a mediator between children's negative emotionality and problematic
behavior in early childhood. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 169(3), 209-226.
Smith, D.C., Hall, J.A. (2008). Parenting style and adolescent clinical severity: findings from two
substance abuse treatment studies. Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions, 8(4), 440-463.
Steinberg, L., Elmen, J., Mounts, N. (1989). Authoritative parenting, psychosocial maturity, and
academic success among adolescents. Child Development, 60(6), 1424-1436.
Suldo, S., Huebner, E. (2004). The role of life satisfaction in the relationship between authoritative
parenting dimensions and adolescent problematic behavior. Social Indicators Research, 66, 165-195.
Takuchi, M., Takeuchi, S. (2008). Authoritarian versus authoritative parenting styles: application of
the cost equalization principle. Marriage Family Review, 44(4), 489-510.
Thompson, A., Hollis, C., Richards, D. (2003). Authoritarian parenting attitudes as a risk for conduct
problems: results from a British national cohort study. European Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 12(2),
Timpano, K.R., Keough, M.E., Mahaffey, B., Schmidt, N.B., and Abramowitz, J. (2010). Parenting and
obsessive-compulsive symptoms: implications of authoritarian parenting. Journal of Cognitive
Psychotherapy, 24(3), 151-164.
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