A Practical Guide to Authoritative Parenting

The authoritative style of parenting allows for flexibility in children but parents also establish rules. Such parents allow their children to be independent but do not let them do everything at their will. They set boundaries and explain the reasons behind those boundaries. These parents understand the effects of situations and adapt their rules according to those. They also focus on establishing a healthy emotional and nurturing bond with their child. 

Authoritative parenting, to say the least, is tricky and comes with its challenges. While everyone knows BALANCE is key, it is often tough to find the key. There is no step-by-step guide to parenting in general or authoritative parenting for that matter. Every parent-child relationship, their environment and circumstances are unique so creating a guide that suits everyone is an impossible feat. However, in this article, using some common examples that span across cultures, we will try to give you a better idea of finding the balance. 

First, let us consider food. Nowadays, a lot of parents give their children different food from what is made for the rest of the family. They heavily comply with the child’s choice (maybe because they want to prevent the child from acting irritable or cranky) which can result in lack of important nutrients. This can also have developmental effects in later years where the child shows a lack of adjustment, difficulty stepping out of their comfort zone and overburdening their caregivers. On the other hand, there are a lot of health-conscious parents who follow and make their children follow a strict diet. An authoritative style of parenting would suggest approaching the situation with warmth. They would maintain an overall balanced diet for the week but also allow the child to have food of choice maybe twice a week or choose their own evening snack. 

The second area we will explore is the play realm. Authoritative parents do not give in to the demands of children when it comes to toys and/or gadgets. When it comes to toys/ gadgets, a lot of children know no bounds. They may demand a new toy every day/week or they may demand gadgets at a very early age. Some children are so fond of gadgets that they demand the latest version every time it’s launched. Compliance with such demands can reflect in adolescent behavior where they do not value money or time. While some parents may be financially able to provide such a treatment, they must restrict themselves. Authoritative parenting suggests buying those toys maybe every 3 or 4 months. This helps children learn that everything is not readily available in life and develop control and patience.

Some children also tend to get aggressive and violent, in situations as listed above or maybe with their peers in school. In the authoritative parenting book, violence cannot be responded to with violence. That will be detrimental for the child and may reinforce that behaviour, the child may feel that it is okay to be violent because their parents are. Instead, authoritative parents help their children identify violent behaviour as wrong and help them replace frustration/anger/aggression with empathy and compassion. 

Routine and its management are another critical aspect of parenting. Authoritative parents help their children find the balance between their academics, play and gadget behavior. They understand and value that children cannot only study the entire day. Some parents, on the other hand, enforce packed academic and study schedules for their children starting 4 or 5 years. There has been a rapid increase in parents putting their children in after-school tuitions at that early age. Authoritative parents help plan a schedule for their children that reaches a balance, incorporates academics and dedicates hours to playing a sport or engaging in a hobby. They help their child build important soft and interpersonal skills such as teamwork and empathy through these activities. They also set a limit on screen time or gadget use.

We hope that the above instances spanning different realms gave an important insight into the practical execution of authoritative parenting and helped recognize the detrimental effects of functioning on the extremes instead of achieving the balance. 

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