Authoritative parents are emotionally responsive and nurturing.

Authoritarian & Authoritative Parenting Styles

by Nannette Richford

Many parents describe themselves as authoritative parents, and they might even fool neighbors and friends when parenting is going smoothly for them. But when conflict arises, they unleash the iron fist and demand compliance with little regard for the feelings or emotions of their children. If you find yourself shouting "Because I said so" and can't rationalize your demands, chances are high that the drill sergeant in you has taken over your parenting style.


Authoritarian parents set rigid rules and tough consequences. These parents expect rules to be followed to the letter and don't leave any wiggle room for noncompliance. Because they see themselves as the sole authority in the household, and have little regard for differences in their children's temperament, they view following their rules as a road map to raising responsible children. Authoritarian parents might live by the motto "Kids should be seen and not heard" and are likely to use their physical superiority and unemotional -- unless they are challenged by the strong-willed child -- state to control their children's behavior. "Because I said so" and "I don't care what you think" are common responses when children question their authority. Authoritarian parents often dictate behavior without allowing the child any room for options. For example, instead of allowing the child to choose between several activities, such as reading, coloring or watching a video during his free time, the authoritarian parent may dictate the exact activity.


Authoritative parents set strict guidelines for their children's behavior, but are more willing to make exceptions when conditions warrant it. When children question rules or expectations, authoritative parents are more willing to assess their expectations and change them if necessary. Authoritative parents accept that children make mistakes and tend to be more forgiving when transgressions occur, but that should not be confused with permissiveness. Although their children must often suffer the consequences of their behavior, they have no desire to punish the child for inappropriate behavior. Authoritative parents tend to set guidelines that allow some choice, such as stipulating times for watching videos but allowing the child to choose from several options. Authoritative parents strive to teach the child to be self-regulating and socially responsible, while providing structure and expectations to guide their way.

Children of Authoritarian Parents

Children of authoritarian parents tend to perform moderately well in school with little difficulty with problem behaviors in school. However, it comes at a price. These children typically have poor social skills, lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression than children with authoritative parents, according to Real-life problem-solving might come as a challenge to those children because they have little experience in making their own decisions.

Children of Authoritative Parents

According to, children of authoritative parents view themselves as more competent, both socially and intellectually, have a higher self-esteem and suffer from less depression than children from homes with authoritarian parents. Additionally, these kids tend to be better problem-solvers and are better equipped to make decisions in the absence of strict guidelines to govern their actions.

About the Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.

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