Authoritarian Vs Authoritative – Which Is Better? [Infographic]

by Tifa Ong June 18, 2019

When your child refuses to eat, do you force them to sit at the table? Or do you prepare a wider range of food for your child to choose from?

Depending on your response, you could be an authoritarian or authoritative parent.

But aren’t they the same thing? How different can these parenting styles be, really?

Well, when it comes to authoritarian vs authoritative parenting, the differences are actually quite pronounced.  

So, what are these parenting styles all about? What’s the difference between authoritarian vs authoritative parenting styles? And which styles do researchers agree is best?

We’re going to explore everything you need to know about these parenting styles.

What Are The 4 Types Of Parenting Styles?


German psychologist, Diana Baumrind, identified 3 distinct parenting styles and grouped them together as Baumrind’s parenting styles.

Later, psychologists Maccoby and Martin added the fourth style: neglectful parenting.

The four types of parenting styles are:

  1. Authoritative parenting: These parents are strict and have clear standards of behaviors. But they are also loving, warm and nurturing.
  2. Authoritarian parenting: These parents are strict and demand blind obedience from their children. The reason for rules is typically coupled with: “because I said so.” 
  3. Permissive parenting: These parents offer a great deal of autonomy for their children and are warm, loving and nurturing.
  4. Neglectful parenting: These parents take the hands-off approach and don’t get involved in their children’s lives.

Authoritative parent helping the child in baking

Authoritarian Vs Authoritative Parenting


Authoritarian and authoritative parenting are two of the four famous Baumrind parenting styles.

Both have a high level of demandingness. But their differing levels of responsiveness is what truly separates these parenting styles.

What is the authoritarian parenting definition?

The authoritarian parent is a strict one. They don’t like to see the same mistakes repeated and are very clear when setting non-negotiable rules and boundaries — often without considering the children’s needs.

In an authoritarian household, the rules are the holy grail that hold everything in order.

And if those rules are broken? Well, the child will be punished.

When children demand an explanation, the parent often replies, “because I said so.”

Authoritarian parents believe that children must be obedient and do only what they’re told.

After all, if the children don’t follow the rules, the parent might lose authority and control.

Authoritarian parents are likely to have children who, studies have shown, are moodier, less cheerful, more prone to stress and depression. In fact, they tend to have the lowest self-esteem among children of different parenting styles.

IT’S NO SURPRISE WE FAILED TO TUNE IN TO OUR CHILDREN’S ESSENCE. HOW CAN WE LISTEN TO THEM WHEN SO MANY OF US BARELY LISTEN TO OURSELVES?

— DR SHEFALI TSABARY, AUTHOR OF MINDVALLEY’S CONSCIOUS PARENTING MASTERY PROGRAM

What is authoritative style?

The authoritative parent, on the other hand, makes rules while taking the child’s wishes into consideration.

This parenting style demands a lot from both parties. Parents offer emotional encouragement when something is done right.

But if the child doesn’t behave well, they will be disciplined to learn a lesson.

In this way, authoritative parents make sure that the child isn’t just obedient — they also learn from their mistakes.

According to a study published in the European Online Journal of Natural and Social Sciences, authoritative parents are likely to have children who are more independent and have better mental well-being.

Authoritarian vs Authoritative Parenting Styles

Why Is The Authoritative Parenting Style The Best?


The authoritative parenting style was defined as ‘just right’ by Diana Baumrind. In fact, studies have shown children of authoritative parents are more successful and have higher levels of wellbeing. 

One study by Laurence Steinberg, Professor of Psychology at Temple University, has shown that teenagers from authoritative parents perform better in academics and more likely to do better at school.

Another study published in the American Psychological Association (APA) discovered the adolescents raised in authoritative homes are more confident about their abilities and are less likely to portray externalized behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse.

Why are children of authoritative parents more successful?

The secret lies in maintaining the balance between discipline and nurture.

Authoritative parents use positive discipline that allows their child to think logically about how their behaviors affect others.

But at the same time, they listen to their child’s needs and support them when necessary.

Authoritative parents give encouragement and compliments when their child demonstrates good behavior. 

As for bad behaviors, authoritative parents use positive discipline to teach their child a lesson. For example: “Because you didn’t clean your room in time, we’re going to miss the show. This is what will happen when you procrastinate.

The sweet spot of authoritative parenting is the dance between strictness and flexibility.

So, you want to set clear rules, but at the same time, be flexible enough to alter the rules according to your child’s needs.

When your child expresses dissatisfaction with a rule, you meet them where they are by acknowledging their emotions and actively listening. 

HONOR YOUR CHILD’S FEELINGS AND SHOW THEM THAT THEY CAN ACTUALLY BECOME RESILIENT.

— DR SHEFALI TSABARY, AUTHOR OF MINDVALLEY’S CONSCIOUS PARENTING MASTERY PROGRAM

Child feeding Authoritative Parent

The new paradigm of parenting


Studies have shown that the authoritative parenting style is sufficient in raising competent children.

But is there anything better when it comes to raising successful children in this modern, complex, fast-paced world? 

Conscious parenting is a revolutionary parenting style that helps raise unique, confident and independent children.

These children are not forced to fit into the expectations defined by society.

These children are encouraged to explore and develop the true nature of their beings. 

This approach is focusing on creating ideal environments for children to cultivate their innate wisdom, and equip them with tools to not just survive but thrive in this ever-complex world.

So, the single biggest difference between a conscious parent and an unconscious parent is:

How much are you aware of the way you parent?

Conscious parents are aware that they’re projecting their unmet needs onto the child. 

Conscious parents believe their children don’t belong to them. The child is an independent individual with its own innate wisdom and a unique life journey.

Conscious parents show up and emphasize only one thing: connection with their children.  

CHANGE THE MENTALITY FROM WANTING TO CONTROL YOUR KID TO WANTING TO CONNECT TO YOUR KID.

DR SHEFALI TSABARY, AUTHOR OF MINDVALLEY’S CONSCIOUS PARENTING MASTERY PROGRAM

This new paradigm of parenting emphasizes, not control and correction, but guidance and acceptance, which allows children’s innate intelligence to emerge and build long-lasting connections. 

Whether a parent or not, discover a radically new and empowering model of parenting in this FREE Masterclass by Dr. Shefali. Sign up for the Masterclass below:

So, what do you think authoritarian vs authoritative parenting? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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