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Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs
(Comparison Chart)

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The Big Answer


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an article by Life Magazine Editors

(our site's article review)

Life looks at keeping families together by teaching ignorant mothers how to parent. There are many good parenting programs out there. It's a shame anyone gets through high school without learning all about parenting! Life is correct—teaching ignorant mothers how to parent would go a long way toward keeping families together. Happily, this website can lead you to the best parenting programs so you need not be ignorant about parenting or suffer the pain of family dysfunctionality.

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 (which most of the above parenting methods try to put themselves into) may do the six just-mentioned methods a disservice. By discluding 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 below, which solve all problems in one fell swoop.

1. Pseudo-Authoritative (Authoritarian Lite): parenting like Diana Baumrind's control-based method that she calls "authoritative," but which doesn’t jive with the better methods of authoritative parenting which came later.

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.

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.