Authoritarian vs Authoritative Parenting: What’s the difference?

Welcome back to Best Case Parenting. Today, we are going to compare two styles of parenting. Today, we are looking at authoritarian vs authoritative parenting.

This article aims to show you the differences between these parenting styles and help you make an educated decision on which may be best for you.

I have done separate articles on each of these parenting styles, which can be read here:

Taking a look at the authoritarian style of parenting

What is the definition of authoritative parenting?

This article is more of an overview, so if you want the full details on these parenting styles, I would recommend you check out those individual articles too.

Authoritarian Parenting Definition?

What exactly is the authoritarian style of parenting? What is an authoritarian parenting definition?

Authoritarian parents are parents which have a very rigid and strict approach to disciplining their children. They expect their children to simply follow what they say without question.

Authoritarian parents do not explain these rules and behavioural expectations to their children, they just expect them to follow because the parent told them to.

With the authoritarian style of parenting, the expectations held of the children can be quite unrealistic and overly demanding.

Authoritarian parenting is all about the belief that the outside world is harsh, and by exposing children to some of this harshness within the home, it will be easier for them to deal with it outside of the home.

Authoritarian parents will often shout and show anger towards their children.

Authoritarian vs Authoritative Parenting, which is best?

Definition of Authoritative Parenting?

When thinking of the definition of authoritative parenting, we find a parenting style which also holds high expectations of the families children. This is especially the case when it comes to maturity.

With the authoritative parent style, children are expected to behave appropriately for their age and behavioural expectations are put in place. If the children fall outside of these expectations, there will be consequences for them. These expectations and consequences are usually fair and age appropriate.

The authoritative parent will explain things to their child and attempt to set them up as best they can to succeed. They explain why a child needs to act a certain way and why certain consequences are applied. Authoritative parenting attempts to guide the child, so that they can hopefully be more autonomous and think these situations through themselves in the future.

The authoritative parent style will also entail praising your children when they do something well or achieve something. Again, building up their confidence to be autonomous and successfully navigate the world independently.

Overall, it is a more “firm but fair” approach. These parents will be firm when the child doesn’t behave as expected. However, they will give their children more choices in these situations and discuss with them at a later time what went wrong and how to improve the situation next time.

Problems and sanctions are explained to a child in detail, and conversations are held to make sure they fully understand.

What are the effects of authoritative parenting?

Authoritarian vs Authoritative Parenting: What are the major differences?


This area of responsiveness is one of the major differences between these parenting styles.

The authoritarian parent is a non responsive style of parenting. Rules are made without any discussion with the children involved. In the same way, rules are to be followed without asking any questions or finding out why rules exists. The authoritarian parent is a key figure of authority in the family and should be followed no matter what.

Authoritative parenting involves being more responsive to your child. You still have high expectations and rules are put in place, however all of this is explained and discussed with your child too. The aim is to help them gain an understanding of these rules and expectations, and why they are following them. This turns the process into more of a learning experience, that will hopefully help your child self regulate appropriate behaviour themselves in the future.

Type of expectations

The authoritarian parent will often set expectations and rules which are overly difficult and unrealistic for the child to consistently hit. This can lead to frustration for both parties.

However, the authoritative parent will show more understanding of their child and where they should be in their development. This means that the expectations are usually far more age appropriate and realistic for the child.

Parenting outcomes

Research has shown that, often, parenting styles can effect and shape the way a child grows up and how they turn out as adults or older children. This should be a key consideration for parents as it shows the possible effects of parenting on their child.

When looking at the effects of authoritarian parenting, the authoritarian parent is very controlling and doesn’t seek to offer the child any input. This may lead to a child that is less able to think for themselves or have creative or “think outside the box” moments. Authoritative parents, however, do allow their children enough freedom to think. They encourage their child’s autonomy, whereas authoritarian parents don’t give any room for this.

This lack of thinking for themselves, means that children of authoritarian parents often don’t fair well in social or real world situations. The constant expectation to follow demanding and unrealistic rules can also leave these children will low self esteem.

Authoritative parenting has often proven to produce children that can be successful in the outside world, that have a positive view of themselves and what they can achieve.

Other effects of authoritarian parenting include children that have been shown to be much more likely to be “out of control” as older children and even young adults. When you are so used to such tight and unreasonable control from an authoritarian parent, there is a far greater chance that the child will rebel or push outside of these rules when they get the chance.

Clearly, the effects of authoritative parenting seem to produce a much more well rounded and self regulating child when compared to the effects of authoritarian parenting.


Authoritarian parenting is very clear cut and doesn’t require any explanation or discussion with the child. Whereas authoritative parenting is the opposite. They still have similarly high expectations, but try to nurture and prepare their child to meet them. This takes much more time on the part of the parent.

If you want to follow the latter approach, you need to be able to commit the time and have the patience to follow it through.


Authoritarian parenting is a non responsive form of parenting, and one which makes the parent mostly an authority figure in the eyes of the child. This means that often, the parent is not able to build up a good relationship with their child. The overly excessive expectations will often lead to the child showing signs of resentment to their parents. It reminds me of the stereotypical army sergeant type of relationship. The army cadets may respect their overly harsh and exacting superior, but it would be rare to find one that says they have a good relationship. It’s not the kind of person you would go to for life advice! As an authoritarian parent, you are likely to have this type of relationship with your child.

However, the authoritative parent, will take the time to talk and discuss things with their child. They will make an effort to make sure their child has a good level of understanding. This results in the possibility of a much better relationship forming. And the type of relationship where a child would be more likely to confide in you.

We look at the authoritarian style of parenting.

Creating an Independent Child

The effects of authoritarian parenting often mean that you end up with a child that will blindly follow rules and be more likely to conform. They are not used to thinking for themselves, just following along in a very guided and rigid home structure. This style of parenting is not giving the child enough opportunities to think for themselves!

Whereas, the authoritative parent is all about helping their child to be independent. They want them to grasp the reasoning behind everything, to enable them to be their own guide in future. It’s not just about following a process, it’s about understanding that process. Maybe then the child can make their own alternative (but still appropriate) process in the future!

The Conclusion

Thank you for reading our authoritarian vs authoritative parenting article.

For most people, when looking at these two parenting styles, it is quite clear that authoritative parenting would be the way to go. It produces a much happier and self reliant child who is far more likely to do well in the adult world.

Authoritative parenting can be time consuming though and requires a lot of patience.

Authoritarian parents often come across as cold and heartless, showing little concern for the child’s wellbeing or ability to match the parent’s expectations. This lack of compassion and understanding of a child often results in a less personal relationship with their parents.

​What do you think about authoritarian vs authoritative parenting?

What do you think the effects of authoritative parenting are?

We would love to hear about it in the comments section below. It is always great to hear other people’s opinions or personal experiences of these parenting styles!

Further Reading…

Unfortunately, here at Best Case Parenting we have a limited scope for the articles we write. If you would like to find out more about parenting styles, I would highly recommend the following book:

Simply click the image to check this book out on Amazon.

This book does an excellent job of going over and comparing different parenting styles in a detailed and comprehensive way. It will help you de-mystify the whole idea of parenting styles and what they entail. 

By reading this book, you can get help to decide exactly how you would like to parent your own children. Something that can shape their future in an extremely positively way if done right!

In case you missed it, the Book is called “Your Living Legacy” by Shelli Chosak. Shelli is more than just a parenting expert, she is an expert in how we as humans behave. She has got several degrees on the subject, her latest being a P.H.D. in Organizational Psychology. She has had multiple years experience working from everything from a psychologist to a main figure behind a related university course. 

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