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Authoritative Parenting! Is this your style?

Valentine's Day is all about love and what love could be greater than a parent for their child. We have yet one more style of parents showing love for their kids in this post. Yes, yes, there are more styles of parenting than most of us have heard of. The good news, however, is that we do not need to know the names of all parenting styles and will (most likely) never be quizzed on them! Yet, as parents, we are always eager to learn more about who we are, how we are doing as parents, what we should aim for, and so on. So here goes…

According to a psychology website ‘Authoritative parenting is characterized by reasonable demands and high responsiveness. While authoritative parents might have high expectations for their children, they also give their kids the resources and support they need to succeed. Parents who exhibit this style listen to their kids and provide love and warmth in addition to limits and fair discipline.’

So, what characterizes authoritative parenting?

High expectations: Authoritative parents have high expectations from their kids. They expect them to do well, as do Tiger parents, Authoritarian parents, and well, all parents. No matter what parent you classify yourself as; wanting our children to be the best versions of themselves is natural to all parents.

Freedom of expression: How they might differ from other parents is that they always make room for expression. Whether or not they agree with their children, there is always an opportunity for children to express opinions, which might not be the case with other styles of parenting. The ‘I know best for you and brook no resistance’ stance of the authoritarian parent, for instance, is replaced with, ‘I think this may be the best, but I am willing to consider your opinion’. This is especially useful in the teenage and later years when they are old enough to know what they like or dislike and need to express themselves.

Listen to their children: Children are sometimes told that they should be seen and not heard, or that they must speak only when spoken to. With authoritative parenting, there is always space for listening. A child who is refusing to eat breakfast may be persuaded to eat once they feel you have listened to their reason and addressed it. (At times it could be as simple as listening to them and an assurance that what they like to eat will also be at the table at a more convenient time soon)

Fair and consistent discipline: Listening to kids ensures that the discipline they enforce is fair. The child is given a chance to present their side of any story, and the corrective measures are consistent with the situation. Coming home from playtime at 6.30 pm or when the street lights come on is a good rule, but if they are not disciplined for breaking that rule, they will not respect other boundaries as well which might even put them in danger. However, giving the child a chance to tell their story will ensure they tell the truth.

Limits, consequences, and expectations: Guides to good behavior that help all through life. Setting limits lets children know what to expect. Being home at 6.30 after playtime is a rule, and if the rule is broken they must be told about the consequences. Maybe they get to go to play later the next day. This way the child knows that there are consequences to their actions.

Options, Independence and reasoning: Teach children to think for themselves, reason out everything and be independent. There is no spoon-feeding from a very young age. Offering two choices at breakfast helps them exercise their options, but if they refuse to eat either, they may have to go hungry till lunch is how you could reason with them.

Adjusting response according to the circumstances and situation, taking in all variables is how authoritative parenting works.

No matter what the parenting style, be it free-range, or authoritarian, unconditional, helicopter ( you can read our posts on these here)  or snowplow or any other style; all parents want the best for their children. Love and warmth to nurture children are the most important of all. Happy parenting! 

February 10, 2020 — Suchismita Pai

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