Authoritative vs Authoritarian Parenting Styles

Authoritative vs Authoritarian Parenting Style

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Baumrind parenting styles have become a common reference point to parenting. Authoritative parenting styles and authoritarian parenting styles are, by far, the most popular parenting styles. Although the two parenting styles are almost similar in pronunciation or spelling, their principles have a stark contrast.

The principles of the two styles create two unique approaches to parenting. New and experienced parents can learn a thing or two from the exploration of these two styles. Thus, this article does not act to critic your parenting style but rather creates a reference point to ensure better results in parenting.

Authoritative parenting style 

Authoritative child-rearing style refers to parenting where the children are involved in the rulemaking. Parental warmth and an acceptable level of control is a unique trait of the parenting style. Children are given a chance to understand what they did wrong, and the level of punishment suits the crime the children have committed.

Support and love are evident in this parenting style, and it is the reason why the authoritative parenting style is the best. Involving the child in the decisions makes the parenting style to stand out as the child gets a chance to air their grievances. This parenting style has plenty of positive impacts on the growth and development of children.

Authoritarian parenting style

Authoritarian parenting is characterized by unrealistic or high demands which set up the child for failure. Additionally, this parenting style is defined by low responsiveness. The parents exert plenty of power where the child is expected to act accordingly without question.

Punishments are quite harsh, and at times the child may not be aware of why they are being punished or why they are expected to behave in a particular manner. Hence, this parenting style can, at its extreme, have devastating impacts on the growth and development of the child. The style of parenting impacts how the child will turn out in the future. How they express themselves or their opinions is tied to the parenting style.

Why Authoritative Parenting is the Best 

authoritarian vs authoritative parenting

There are plenty of differences between authoritative and authoritarian parenting style. These differences are the reason why there is a strong consensus supporting authoritative parenting as having a positive effect on the development of children.

Compared with authoritarian parents, authoritative parents are likely to be more responsive and keener in creating positive relationships with their children. This is just one factor among many that attract praise for the authoritative parenting style. The following sections provide further factors that indicate why the authoritative parenting style is the best.


This is a factor that differs in authoritarian vs authoritative parenting styles. Compared with authoritarian parents, authoritative parents will allow their children to seek autonomy. 

However, while the authoritative parents continuously monitor their children, it is far from the tight control exhibited by authoritarian parents. Rather, the purpose of monitoring is to observe their kid’s behavior and correct them if the need arises. 

On the other hand, communication is bidirectional as opposed to authoritarian parenting, where the parents give orders, and the child has to listen without attempting to talk back. In such cases, the child will have very little feedback on why the parents are taking some actions.


Authoritarian parents are strict, and they set high expectations for the child. The same can be said for authoritative parents, with the only difference being that these parents are strict, warm, and nurturing. As such, they will explain to their children why the rules are designed in a specific way. This nurtures critical thinking about the rules among the children. 

Thus, unlike in authoritarian parenting, the children get an opportunity to participate in decision making. Children exposed to such parenting will tend to be expressive with their opinions and have high self-esteem. This is in stark contrast with authoritarian parenting, where children can become insecure with low self-esteem.


Authoritarian parenting involves a high sense of control, where the parents are worried about under-controlling their kids. Kids are expected to accept judgment without question at all times.

Thus, the child is taught to fear authorities rather than express their concerns or questions. This sort of parenting can manifest in the behavior of a child, especially as it pertains to authorities.

Authoritative parenting does also exhibits tight control, with the difference being that the child can get a word in if they do not understand why they are being punished. The parents have no concerns with under-controlling the children as their main concern is the behavior of the child.


Compared to authoritarian parents, authoritative parents will use non-punitive discipline measures. An example of this is a time-out form of punishment

Authoritarian parents tend to favor harsh punishments as they focus on correcting mistakes as opposed to authoritative parents who focus on preventing mistakes from happening. 

Thus, the authoritative parents will follow through with the behavior of their kids consistently and ensure that they serve the punishment. Although these parents are strict, the punishments are not harsh, and they fit the mistake that the child has committed.

Case Study 

For instance, if the parent catches a child with some stolen toys, the child should be punished and taught that it is wrong to steal.

An authoritative parent will most likely ground the child for two weeks, denying the child access to the internet and his devices. After which the child will be sent to the store to return the stolen toy and apologize. Throughout this process, the child learns what is wrong and right, ensuring they can use this critical thinking in the future. 

An authoritarian parent will whoop the child, and the child may not even receive dinner as punishment. While the first parent was supportive, the second parent issues little feedback and guidance to the child, which will create future problems.

The Bottom Line

Research on parenting will equip you with the best techniques to employ so that children can experience healthy growth and development. Authoritative parenting style offers the opportunity to engage with the child while the exploration of the authoritarian parenting style identifies the warning flags to avoid during parenting.


Robert is a father of a young daughter and has developed an expertise in child car seat safety. He is a keen supporter of the use of child safety systems having seen his daughter come away from a side impact collision unscathed due to the use of a child car seat. When he's not spending time reviewing child safety systems he works as a Technical Manager on major construction projects.

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