You have an Authoritative Parenting Style - what does that mean?

Thanks for taking the Parenting Styles Quiz. If you did not take the quiz, please click here to find out what parenting style you have with our parenting styles quiz (opens new window). If you did take the quiz and have an Authoritative Parenting Style, read on...

# What are parenting styles?

Your kids’ genes don’t determine everything about their development and neither do their environments (including your parenting). Instead, their genes, your parenting, their friend groups, and many other factors all combine to play important roles in their development. Parenting style is one important factor that influences how kids develop.

Parenting style refers to the strategies that you use to raise, interact with, support, and discipline your child. There are three common parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive.

Based on your responses to this questionnaire, your parenting style is best described as authoritative.

# What is authoritative parenting?

Your parenting style is defined by a balance of high emotional responsiveness and high expectations. The balance between warmth and structure is key to this style. You provide emotional support to your child through warmth and nurturance, but you also set clear boundaries and limits. You spend time learning about your child, their interests, and their needs so that you can best support them.

# What does this balance look like?

Let's consider the example of setting screen time limits for your kids. Instead of setting a specific limit for screen time for all of your kids, you might set a time limit and adjust this limit based on your individual kids’ needs. You are also willing to negotiate and discuss this time with your kids.

You don’t just want your kids to do what you say, you want them to feel heard and valued and to understand why you have these rules in the first place!

Warmth is central for authoritative parenting, so how do you discipline and maintain warmth?

When you need to use discipline with your child, you focus on a positive discipline style and you do not expect your child to follow your rules without questioning them. You may be asking, “what’s a positive discipline style? Those seem incompatible.” Let’s take a look….

Imagine your kid broke a rule that’s been in place and well understood for a long time. You start by calmly and clearly explaining the rule that was broken and the consequences for breaking the rule. You remain firm with the consequences, but you are open to discussing the reasons for the rule and consequences.

Your goal is to make sure your kid understands the situation and learns from it while feeling supported. You aim for your child to understand the rules, as compared to using a “because I said so” mindset.

Through these discussions, you teach your child about the reasons for your rules and let them practice setting similar rules and boundaries for themselves. You don’t expect your child to comply with rules without discussion and you also do not expect your child to respect you without earning their respect.

If you’re getting the sense that the authoritative parenting style is a good one, you’re right!

Authoritative parenting style is associated with highly positive outcomes for kids. Of the three parenting styles, authoritative parenting tends to have the most positive and protective effects and the fewest negative effects for kids.

Children with authoritative parents (like you!) tend to have positive physical and mental outcomes.

Kids raised by authoritative parents are less likely to develop mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or substance use problems and they may be less likely to attempt suicide as compared to children raised by parents with other parenting styles. While these mental health related issues can and do still happen with authoritative parents, the rates are lower.

More good news, authoritative parenting is also great for social and academic outcomes!

Kids raised by authoritative parents practice setting rules and boundaries through discussions with their parents. These kids often have well-developed independence, self-reliance, and emotion regulation skills. They are generally comfortable in new social settings and have well developed social skills.

Additionally, academic success and school engagement may also be supported by authoritative parenting styles.

# Now that you know your parenting style can be categorized as authoritative, where do you go from here?

Keep focusing on the balance between emotional responsiveness and high expectations. Keep providing warmth and nurturance towards your kids while also setting clear boundaries and rules - these often provide benefits to their physical and mental health.

Being aware of what is going on in your kids’ lives can help you to best understand their feelings and needs. Every parent can work on getting to know their kids better through healthy communication. Check out this guide for more information (opens new window).

Another way to build your relationship with your kids is by modeling good communication during tough conversations. This can be a great way to show your kids warmth while also using clear and direct communication. Need some help with communication in difficult conversations? Check out this guide for some helpful tips (opens new window).

Parenting can be tough, and it can be easy to feel like you are not doing enough. Remember, parenting styles play a role in your kids’ development, but there are also many other factors that influence your kids. If you feel that you are blaming yourself or worrying about how your kids will turn out based on your parenting, check out these articles:

And please don’t forget, it is important to take care of yourself as a parent! Parents who take care of themselves are most able to make mindful parenting decisions. Taking care of yourself also models good self-care for your kids. Here are some tips for how to take care of yourself as a parent (opens new window).

Want to learn more about authoritative parenting? Check out the links below:

Want to learn about the other parenting styles:

# Do you or your child need support right now?

If you or your child are in a crisis situation please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources for you and your loved ones.

If you're not in crisis but would like to connect with an online counselor (through our partnership with Betterhelp), please use one of these links: