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Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative Parenting

Adapted from Parenting for Character: Five Experts, Five Practices[i]

 Goal of parenting

The goal of parenting as described by researcher Dr. Dianna Baumrind is to achieve a healthy, well-developed child of optimal competence and character.

Character: the aspect of personality that relates to accountability, persistence in the face of obstacles, and control of impulses.

Competence: that which helps us reach our personal and social goals.  The ability to know right from wrong and to regulate our actions in order to choose right rather than wrong.  Optimal competence requires a balance between being self-oriented and being other-oriented.

  • Self-oriented (agency): a person’s drive to achieve independence, individuality, and self-aggrandizement.  This is measured by the extent to which a person is self-regulated, autonomous, achievement-oriented, and assertive.
  • Other-oriented (communal): a person’s drive to be of service to others and to engage collaboratively with them.  To be other-oriented is to be prosocial and cooperative.

Components of parenting

Parents determine their style by how they balance demandingness and responsiveness.

How well or how poorly parents integrate responsive and demanding practices will determine the children’s levels of competence and adjustment.

Four primary parenting styles:

Unengaged Parents are:

Permissive Parents are:

Authoritarian Parents are:

Authoritative Parents are: (The Optimal Style)

Because authoritative parents are warm, responsive and autonomy-supportive as well as power-assertive, their children are motivated to restore family harmony by complying or else by constructively dissenting in an effort to change their parent’s mind rather than to defiantly or evasively disobey.  These children are more community-oriented and agentic than their peers.


[i] Baumrind D. Authoritative Parenting for Character and Competence. Parenting for Character: Five Experts, Five Practices edited by David Streight. 2008. Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education. ISBN: 978-1-881678-76-2.