Some of these programs think of themselves as Democratic but not Authoritative, others as Democratic and Authoritative, and the William Sears version of Attachment Parenting as not Democratic. It believes in parental authority. Democratic child-raising is quite different than the belief in parental "authority," which Sears subscribes to. Sears believes that "The real payoff of attachment parenting is obedience." (Let's hope not!) He is misguided and has a few discredited ideas, but his attachment parenting methods are great, so his method made the chart below, but just barely. Generally effective, his Attachment Parenting method works so kids are less stressed, smarter, more moral and autonomous and better behaved, but it's less effective than the other authoritative methods.
Other Attachment Parenting-based programs, or parenting styles that use this type of parent-child relationship in their programs (e.g., Aware Parenting), use win-win conflict resolution, family meetings, mediation—all Democratic strategies, and they do not try to control the children or have obedience as their goal. If you choose attachment parenting, use Aware Parenting by Aletha J. Solter, and read her Tears and Tantrums as well as Attached at the Heart, by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker.
Some parenting styles that think of themselves as Authoritative use logical consequences but other parenting styles that think of themselves as Authoritative do not use logical consequences, even though many people believe that it is part of what defines the word authoritative since the originator, Diana Baumrind, believed that it was one of the ingredients.
Most good Authoritative Parenting programs (STEP (Systematic Training for Effective Parenting), Active Parenting, Winning Family Lifeskills, Positive Discipline, Redirecting Children’s Behavior, and Positive Parenting) use logical consequences only of the "nonpunitive" variety, described above. But some other good parenting styles (P.E.T., Aware Parenting, Connection Parenting, Discipline Without Distress, Nonviolent Communication (N.V.C.), and Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting) don’t use logical consequences since they believe that all logical consequences are punitive by definition and are experienced at least partially as punishments by children.
Many researchers, writers, experts, and commentators in the fields of parent education and parent training use the terms authoritative and democratic almost interchangeably. We believe that this disagreement over terminology can be settled if the Democratic haters of logical consequences admit that such a thing as a nonpunitive logical consequence is possible, since some of the programs that use them are proven effective. It would also help if the "logical consequences using" crowd would admit that such a thing as nurturing children effectively without logical consequences is possible, since some of the programs that won't use them (e.g., P.E.T.) are proven effective.
Nearly all of the authoritative programs think of themselves as democratic since democratic is a good description of win-win conflict resolution, which most use. None of the "logical consequences rejecting" crowd think of themselves as Authoritarian/Autocratic, Permissive/Indulgent, or Neglectful, but as Harmonious or Humanistic as well as Democratic. And yet authoritative programs that use "logical consequences" also think of themselves as Democratic. It is quite predictable that all this terminology hell will serve only to confuse the public—to the detriment of all parenting styles, parent education and parent training. We propose a solution that integrates the Harmonious/Humanistic "logical consequences rejectors" into the Authoritative category.
1. Pseudo-Authoritative (Authoritarian Lite): parenting like Diana Baumrind's control-based method that she calls "authoritative," but which doesn’t jibe with the better methods of authoritative parenting which came later. We consider Diana Baumrind's control-based method (which allows spanking) as Authoritarian Lite; we do NOT recommend this method.
2. Authoritative: parenting that uses the minimum amount of control needed except that it includes logical consequences. Examples: Rudolf Dreikurs' democratic parenting, the Ginott method, S.T.E.P., and Active Parenting, to name a few. Note: It's not that easy to find his use of logical consequences in Ginott's book Between Parent and Child, but in his conversations with Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish in Liberated Parents Liberated Children, Ginott spells it out clearly.
3. Authoritative Lite: (also known as Democratic Parenting or Harmonious Parenting or Humanistic Parenting) authoritative parenting that uses the minimum amount of control and does not include logical consequences. Examples of truly Democratic parenting that are Authoritative Lite are P.E.T., Aware Parenting, Connection Parenting, Discipline Without Distress, Nonviolent Communication (N.V.C.), and Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting, although they don't necessarily consider their methods "authoritative" since they reject control and logical consequences. However, since so many of the P.E.T. methods are found in parenting programs that consider themselves Democratic and Authoritative, we consider creating a separate category called Democratic to be unnecessary. Democratic and Authoritative programs have a lot in common. It works better to simply stick with the accepted categories Authoritarian, Permissive and Authoritative, and have Democratic be a subcategory of the Authoritative method called Authoritative Lite.
Gordon says there are 3 types of parenting, Authoritarian, Permissive, and Democratic, (a nonstandard categorization) and he implies that styles that include logical consequences are really autocratic/authoritarian, since parents sometimes use their power to control their kids when their behavior is unacceptable, although in a much nicer way than the truly Authoritarian methods. We can see that this strategy of categorization surely works for P.E.T. to make P.E.T. look like the only acceptable program around, and we even agree with him that it's the best program. But we wish to avoid any black and white categorizations here because we want anyone interested in microcommunities (MCs) to have lots of Authoritative Parenting programs to choose from. We do NOT consider ANY Authoritarian, Permissive, or Neglectful parenting method acceptable, and strongly advise anyone using them to exchange them for the more humanistic methods known as Authoritative Parenting.
On their website, P.E.T. says that influencing others by sharing one’s experience, wisdom, and knowledge is the good kind of authoritative, and it's what P.E.T. supports. They say this is distinctly different from controlling others with the kind of authoritative which is parental power. This point of view is on a page whose title is "Being Authoritative Does Not Equal Being Authoritarian." They admit that both authority and authoritative are terms surrounded by "confusion and muddled thinking." So P.E.T. considers itself the good kind of authoritative, even though they say there are 3 types of parenting, Authoritarian, Permissive, and Democratic. Authoritative is not one of the categories in their eyes even though it is for most parenting researchers, experts, books, studies, etc. P.E.T. obviously takes this position not just for marketing reasons but to attempt to avoid confusion, since authoritative styles that include logical consequences are in the majority and they are NOT what P.E.T. is, so P.E.T. needed a different word: Democratic. The problem is that most of the authoritative styles that include logical consequences use the democratic win-win conflict resolution strategy and consider themselves Democratic. So this term, like authority and authoritative, is surrounded by "confusion and muddled thinking." Does saying they are the good kind of "authoritative" (expertise) while most others use the bad kind (parental power) help matters? To the degree they force all logical consequences users into the discredited Authoritarian category, no. Additionally, the use of well-muddled single terms like authoritative and democratic is not helpful without qualifiers. That is why we hope that parenting styles, and the fields of parent education and parent training, adopt our categorization: Pseudo-Authoritative, Authoritative, and Authoritative Lite.
P.E.T. and some other Democratic programs consider themselves to be the good kind of "authoritative," but Alfie Kohn wants nothing to do with the word. Alfie Kohn's book Unconditional Parenting has an excerpt on Kohn's website which he calls Rethinking Baumrind's "Authoritative" Parenting that quotes Diana Baumrind as supporting punishment, rewards, logical consequences, spankings, parental power, etc., and she is known for her studies that seem to show that her punitive version of "authoritative" gets great results. Actually, it doesn't, as we as well as Kohn and Catherine Lewis have pointed out. Even though Baumrind originated the term "authoritative," her nostalgia for our traditional-discipline-using past seems to have colored her opinions so that they are a flagrant contradiction. Catherine Lewis, a researcher, discovered in 1981 that the positive outcomes for children of authoritative parents were not connected to the use of firm enforcement, like Baumrind asserted.
So it is the nonpunitive type of authoritative that is deserving of all the attributions of being the best parenting method. As we've seen, Gordon and Kohn and others dislike parental power use. The results researchers get for the punitive Baumrind type of power are negative, but the results for BOTH the authoritative methods ("logical consequences rejecting" and "logical consequences accepting") are quite good, compared to the Authoritarian, Neglectful, and Permissive styles, as long as the "logical consequences accepting" style uses only the minimal amount of power needed, and there is a direct cause-and-effect relationship between two events the child can easily understand and feels is fair—ideally the child problem-solves with the parent and they come up with the logical consequence together or in a family meeting. Giving choices is a benefit to this process. Learning is the point, not punishment. It's logical for a kid to earn money to pay for something he broke. It's not punishment. It's connected, fair, and logical.
We consider P.E.T., Aware Parenting, Connection Parenting, Discipline Without Distress, Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting, and Nonviolent Communication (N.V.C.) to be the best parenting programs anywhere, although the last of these may seem a bit complex or incomplete for some. But there is so much research that points to authoritative parenting methods as the most successful methods that we feel that a separate Democratic category may do the six just-mentioned methods a disservice. By excluding themselves from the Authoritative category they may get somewhat marginalized. With so many experts and books and websites and studies and researchers saying that authoritative parenting is by far the best, wouldn't it be prudent for these six methods to get in on the glory? We think so—hence our 3 Authoritative Parenting categories above, which solves all problems in one fell swoop.
To add even more weight to our argument, we've even seen authoritative and democratic used interchangeably or together as authoritative/democratic, and we've seen Rudolf Dreikurs' methods referred to as democratic parenting.
Finally, in P.E.T. when a mother follows P.E.T. guidelines and puts an unacceptably behaving child in a playpen so his subsequent behaviors will be acceptable to her, and the child sees this as a punishment and howls in fury, Gordon calls this "changing the environment" (Page 163 of the revised and updated P.E.T. Parent Effectiveness Training). But it is hard to argue that this banishment from the parental space is not a logical consequence of the annoying behavior. It's a parent using her power to control the child, and it's obviously not a natural consequence. Is this obviously correct logical consequence really that different from the other authoritative methods (which would have used this same logical consequence)?
Most authoritative parenting programs define Authoritarian, Permissive and Authoritative as the 3 types of parenting, with Authoritative the only acceptable type, although a few add a 4th type: Neglectful. Rudolf Dreikurs calls his program Democratic, but Gordon considers only P.E.T., Kohn's Unconditional Parenting, Marshall Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk by Elaine Mazlich and Adele Faber to be democratic like P.E.T. is, since even though Rudolf Dreikurs' democratic parenting, S.T.E.P., and Active Parenting have Democratic philosophies, they use logical consequences, which Gordon considers punishment, an autocratic strategy.
The worst, barely acceptable authoritative method is the William Sears version of Attachment Parenting. His website advises not to spank, or we'd have rejected his method, but it also gives lots of instructions about how to do it for those who use spanking anyway. But overall his method is very loving, as all Attachment Parenting is. If you want to employ Attachment Parenting, as mentioned before, use the Aware Parenting program by Aletha J. Solter, the kinder, gentler version of Attachment Parenting that rejects rewards, punishments, controls and logical consequences.
A good book to find summaries of parenting style research is The Power of Loving Discipline, by Karen Miles. It leaves little doubt about the big advantages of Authoritative parenting compared to Authoritarian, Permissive or Unengaged/Neglectful parenting. It was a bit surprising to discover that we've known the intellectual advantages of Democratic parenting since the Second World War!
Another good source is Alfie Kohn's Beyond Discipline, which cites research supporting the Democratic model for parents as well as schools.
Another good source is Thomas Gordon’s Discipline That Works which has shown the results of dozens of researchers who've confirmed how effective democratic parenting is compared to autocratic parenting, how parent-empowered self-control in kids promotes autonomy and self-actualization better than parental controls.
More research is accumulating daily that not only does Democratic parenting get the best results, but schools as well get the best results with democratic, nonpunitive teaching and classroom management methods.
Authoritative/democratic parenting is a transcendent synthesis not at either end of the authoritarian-permissive continuum or anywhere in between (including the center). It is ABOVE the authoritarian-permissive continuum, transcendent to the failed approaches of either authoritarian parenting or permissive parenting. There is power in this transcendent approach: the child's own, not the parents', who instead use guidance. There is non-interference in this transcendent approach: parents instead use guidance. Most of this guidance uses (mostly) natural and (occasionally, with some authoritative methods) logical consequences to encourage responsible, wise choices. The rest of this guidance relies on Third Wave knowledge, supplied when needed and appropriate but not forced. When possible, young ones are allowed to "adventure" (try things out, see for themselves, experiment, see if someone wishes their company, etc.) and find out for themselves. This is the Maslow-recommended way—see Toward a Psychology of Being.