Diana Baumrind is the scientist whose classic work on parenting styles is highly cited (e.g., 1971). In a series of studies, Baumrind examined the way parents interacted with their boys and girls. Based on analyses of the data, she identified four patterns of parental authority, which have become known as parenting styles. In 2013, Baumrind clarified the parenting constructs.
Many experts recommend the Authoritative Parenting Style, but not all promoters of the style focus on the evidence-based construct as Baumrind defined them.
Authoritative parenting is derived from a pair of patterns representing demandingness and responsiveness. Baumrind explains that authoritative parenting is based on the concept of authority. Theoretically, parents have the relevant knowledge and the capacity to protect their children. On this assumption, they have the legitimate right to use power to guide their children’s behavior. Authoritative parents confront their children and do not permit defiance, but they also support their children’s autonomy and respond to reason.
When administering discipline, authoritative parents focus on the issue rather than simple obedience. They are affectionate and they assert their power. They are high on both control and love. Although they have firm rules, authoritative parents are willing to negotiate when a child makes a reasonable case for a different course of action.
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Baumrind clarifies some differences in the following quote.
Thus, the authoritative prototype is antithetical both to the permissive prototype characterized by few rules or demands and to the authoritarian prototype characterized by coercive and functionally superfluous control (Baumrind, 1966). Misunderstanding of parental authority and of the authoritative construct is fostered when parental control and love are represented as opposite ends of the same continuum rather than as two independent dimensions (Baumrind, 2013, p. 13).
Permissive parenting is a pattern that encourages a child’s autonomy. These parents are widely accepting and low on behavioral control. They are high on unconditional acceptance and love. The permissive parenting style includes a child input into family decisions as if they had an equal vote to that of their parents.
Authoritarian parenting involves controlling a child’s behavior with firm limits as does the authoritative style, but authoritarian parenting involves coercion, which we may call psychological control. Coercive strategies are intrusive, fail to consider reasonable alternatives or limits, and level children feeling uncomfortably manipulated as if they had no say in their life choices. When administering discipline following misbehavior, authoritarian parents focus on obedience rather than family values and goals.
Disengaged parenting has also been called rejecting-neglecting parenting. These parents are low on controlling their children’s behavior and interpersonally rejecting.
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Baumrind, D. (2013). Authoritative parenting revisited: History and current status. In Authoritative parenting: Synthesizing nurturance and discipline for optimal child development. (Pp. 11–34). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/13948-002
Baumrind, D. (1971). Current patterns of parental authority. Developmental Psychology, 4 (1, Pt.2), 1–103. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0030372
Baumrind, D. (1966). Effects of authoritative parental control on child behavior. Child Development, 37, 887–907. doi:10.2307/1126611
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