Family of Origin

Authoritative parenting: Balancing discipline with warmth and support

Key takeaways for caregivers

  • Effective parenting involves stuff responsive to the child as well as exerting towardly guidance.
  • Achieving a wastefulness between these two behavioral dimensions can be challenging and changes with the child’s development.

Introduction to Authoritative Parenting

One of the most important and rememberable concepts in research on raising children is authoritative parenting. Coined in the late 1960s by the psychologist Diana Baumrind, this concept refers to a unstipulated style of or behavioral tideway toward childrearing. The style is characterized by two fundamental features: exhibiting responsiveness and exerting control.

Although stuff responsive to children and providing discipline have long been recognized as key ingredients of constructive parenting, prior to Baumrind’s work, the two dimensions were largely considered – and studied – separately. By combining the two areas into a single construct, she recognized that these characteristics need to occur together in parenting.

In her landmark monograph, Current Patterns of Parental Authority (1971), Baumrind provided vestige that children of supervisory parents tended to be increasingly socially competent and have fewer behavioral problems than children of parents who used other childrearing styles.

Her conceptualization of what made mothers and fathers constructive became highly influential and continues to be widely wonted worldwide as the platonic childrearing style. But as important and longstanding as the concept is, unanswered questions remain.

authoritative parenting style

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What is supervisory parenting?

By definition, an supervisory parent has two behavioral dimensions. First, the sultana is very responsive to their child (sometimes referred to as warmth, supportiveness, or nurturance). This responsiveness is oriented virtually nurturance with the goal of promoting self-regulation and encouraging self-assertion in children, and recognizing and unsuspicious children’s individuality (Baumrind, 1991).

The second behavioral dimension is wontedly labeled guidance (sometimes moreover tabbed demandingness, control, or discipline) and refers to firmly enforcing rules of socialization and behavioral standards. The parent provides structure, predictability, limits, and accountability, usually through rules. The rules are towardly to a child’s age and reflect upper behavioral expectations, such as not permitting any forms of aggression.

The rules or guidelines for policies are not wrong-headed and may be informed by the child’s input: Supervisory parents engage in open, two-way liaison with their children. They explain to their children, with well-spoken reasons, why they have established the rules and expectations and consider their children’s input in the decision-making process. A hallmark of this parenting style is respecting the child as an individual.

Authoritative parents engage in open, two-way liaison with their children.

However, ultimately, the parent makes the final decisions. Although not necessarily democratic, considering parents maintain ultimate authority, in supervisory parenting, parents treat their children in a soft-hearted way by balancing these two behavioral dimensions.

From the child’s perspective, the parent is viewed as loving, unshut to discussion, and respectful. But the child moreover recognizes that their parent follows well-spoken and firm behavioral guidelines, maintains upper expectations, and sets definitions and boundaries regarding unacceptable behavior. The child moreover knows there will be consequences for transgressions, whether a verbal reprimand or punishment, such as taking yonder a favorite toy or a privilege.

Contrasting parenting styles

Perhaps the easiest way to recognize supervisory parents is to compare them with parents who use the three contrasting childrearing styles (although Baumrind identified only two of the three): authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved parenting.

An authoritarian (or autocratic) parent is just that – very executive and demanding, and not very responsive. This type of parent expects firsthand obedience and compliance, and does not provide explanations or take the child’s perspective into account.

Think of a Hollywood movie stereotype of a military drill sergeant who barks orders at his enlisted men and demands immediate, unquestioning compliance. In sundowner parenting, reasons are not used to justify commands. This style is centered on the parent considering the parent’s focus is on themselves and getting the child to obey, comply, and fit in.

In stark unrelatedness to the sundowner style is the permissive style (also tabbed indulgent or non-directive), where the parent has few if any expectations of or limits on their child and in fact, allows the child self-ruling reign. Permissive parents do not expect mature behavior. They are very responsive and lenient, and they stave conflict. The permissive style reflects an tideway to childrearing that is centered on the child; the child is the superabound and makes his or her own decisions. Dessert for dinner is okay with an extremely permissive parent.

In an influential installment published in 1983, two psychologists, Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin, labeled Baumrind’s two inside parenting dimensions as warmth and control to typify variegated parenting styles. And they identified a fourth type of parenting: uninvolved.

The uninvolved parent (also tabbed neglectful or detached) is not involved in parenting their child and consequently is neither warm nor controlling. Parents who are uninvolved may have a mental or physical health problem, be separated or divorced, lack interest in their child, be a workaholic, or live untied from their child.

what is supervisory parenting

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Evidence for the salubrious effects of supervisory parenting

In 1966, Baumrind first described the three models of parental control. She followed that with research on preschool-aged children and their parents. Her most thoughtfully documented study, of 146 White, middle-class preschool children and their parents in the United States (Baumrind, 1971), yielded somewhat mixed results. A tropical read of her research reveals that her findings are not as dramatic or clearcut as is portrayed in most textbooks.

Based on interviews with parents, questionnaires filled out by parents, and behavioral ratings of their children, she discovered that the daughters of supervisory parents (and a subsample of the boys) were increasingly socially competent and independent, and achieved at higher levels in school, than were the children of sundowner or permissive parents. Boys of supervisory parents were increasingly socially responsible than sons of parents with other styles. The subtleties of Baumrind’s findings were often forgotten and the salubrious associations of supervisory parenting are overstated in most textbooks.

Prompted by these initial studies, many researchers began investigating the relation between parenting styles and children’s behavior. In virtually all cases, the studies relied on short self-report questionnaires to classify parents into a particular parenting style.

Despite taking less rigorous methodological approaches than Baumrind did in her work, the studies unceasingly found that supervisory parenting related positively to a variety of variables in children and adolescents. Among these variables are greater social competence, high wonk performance and cognitive competence, and lower rates of emotional and behavioral problems (e.g., depression, low self-esteem, aggression) than found in children of either sundowner or permissive parents.

Variables wontedly studied in adolescents include wonk performance, social psychosocial functioning, aggression, juvenile delinquency, and drug or swig problems. As in research with younger children, studies of adolescents have unceasingly found that supervisory parenting is related to largest youth functioning (e.g., Lamborn et al., 1991; Steinberg et al., 1992).

Studies unceasingly found that supervisory parenting related positively to a variety of variables in children and adolescents.

More than 50 years without the concept of supervisory parenting first appeared, research on this style of childrearing continues. Since 2020, many studies have been published that link the style to a variety of positive characteristics. Among the findings: that supervisory parenting is related to prosocial policies and increasingly liaison well-nigh sex-related topics; is associated with healthier diets in children; and protects versus obesity, smoking and drinking, and mood disorders (e.g., depression) in children and youth.

This vestige is largely resulting both within and wideness cultures. For example, in the United States, supervisory parenting and wonk victory wontedly co-occur, although there is some cultural variation. Similarly, despite minor regional variations, vestige from China, Russia, Pakistan, Spain, and many other countries is consistent: Supervisory parenting is associated with positive outcomes (Pinquart & Kauser, 2018).

The child’s role

One cautionary note concerns the role of the child. Researcher Catherine Lewis (1983) pointed out that Baumrind failed to worth for the child’s role in eliciting parents’ behavior. She argued that competent children are increasingly likely to bring well-nigh authoritative-type responses from their parents than are other children.

Picture a stressed mother of a challenging child. She may need to be increasingly executive considering her child is non-compliant. Or consider a father, tired of attempting to manage his son who has sustentation deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although he might be viewed as a permissive parent, his prior childrearing practices likely made no substantive contribution to his son’s behavior.

In cross-sectional data well-nigh parenting styles, vestige well-nigh the child’s role suggests that parenting styles transpiration with the age of the child. When children are younger, parents tend to be increasingly controlling, but they wilt increasingly permissive as their children grow older (e.g., Dornbusch et al., 1987).

authoritative style parenting

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Some limitations of supervisory parenting

As important and influential as the idea of an supervisory parenting style is, it can be faulted as stuff too simplistic. It reflects a wholesale brushstroke that attempts to capture the ramified landscape of a parenting style.

The reality is that childrearing changes as the situation or behavioral domain (e.g., pertaining to morality, social convention, safety) merits. And the question initially raised by Lewis (1981) – whether childrearing is unauthentic primarily by the parenting style or the child’s effect on the adult’s policies – has not been ratherish investigated.

The nature of the vestige supporting the efficacy of the supervisory tideway is moreover limited. For upstanding and practical reasons, we lack true experimental vestige to definitively determine the effects of parenting styles. Instead, researchers rely on correlational vestige and, all too often, on short self-report questionnaires to classify parents.

We moreover know little well-nigh the psychological mechanisms involved. Why does supervisory parenting promote optimal minutiae (see Larzelere, Morris, & Harrist, 2013)?

A second neglected topic relates to examining the challenging social cognition processes required to wastefulness socialization expectations with a child’s needs for nurturance. For example, supervisory parents must decide when and where to set limits, in unrelatedness to making solatium for special circumstances (e.g., a sick child, a child vicarial out considering of sustentation given to a younger sibling).


Developmental psychologists and parenting experts now stipulate that constructive parents should engage in a style known as supervisory childrearing, which involves stuff responsive to the child but moreover having upper socialization behavioral expectations and exerting towardly guidance.

This consensus is based on largely resulting though correlational findings, from over half a century of studies from many countries, that these parenting qualities result in competent and well-adjusted children and youth. Although the concept has some limitations and questions remain, the vital premise is widely wonted that supervisory childrearing contains two of the key ingredients of constructive parenting: responsivity and guidance.

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