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Authoritative and Democratic Parenting Programs
(Comparison Chart)


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The Big Answer

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Current Patterns of Parental Authority

an article by Diana Baumrind

(our site's article review)

This is Baumrind’s third major reported study involving authoritative versus other parenting styles. The first one showed that authoritative parents produced the most self-reliant, self-controlled, explorative and content kids—they used authoritative parenting in a warm and rational way, and this resulted in the most competent children, cognitively and socially, of any parenting method. The second study showed that social responsibility, without any loss of autonomy or self-assertiveness, results from authoritative parenting.

This study shows that when more punishment is used in coordination with authoritative parenting, independence is not produced (obviously because the external controls involved in punishment interfere with the learning of self-control), but when authoritative parenting with little punishment is used, the result is high independence scores in children. Also, friendly, cooperative behavior and social responsibility is produced better with authoritative than with any other type of parenting.

She admits that more extensive study needs to be done on harmonious (and other types as well) parenting’s effects on children. Having said that, one would think she’d have studied some of the thousands of P.E.T. families (it was 1971) available then. Somehow she never did. But Gordon has compiled a list of studies that support P.E.T. anyway, so perhaps that will suffice without Baumrind’s additions.

For a discussion on logical vs. natural consequences, see the comments on the book Happy Children by Rudolf Dreikurs, and elsewhere in our website.

To find discussions of punitive vs. nonpunitive authoritative parenting, check out comments on Diana Baumrind’s other works by searching our site for Baumrind. Her ideas about “firm control” define the conservative end of the authoritative parenting continuum, while Gordon’s ideas on avoiding logical consequences and relying on natural consequences to provide all consequences training define the liberal (or Carl Rogers) end of that continuum. For more about the issue of parental firm control, especially as a “necessary” part of authoritative parenting, see our site's comments on Catherine C. Lewis’ The Effects of Parental Firm Control: A Reinterpretation of Findings. It turns out that not only has Catherine C. Lewis found fatal flaws in Baumrind’s theories about necessary firm parental control, but all those involved with Positive Parenting, Systematic Training for Effective Parenting, Active Parenting, Hart’s Winning Family Lifeskills, Redirecting Children’s Behavior, Aware Parenting, Dreikurs’ democratic parenting, the Ginott method, and P.E.T. have discovered the simple fact that while Baumrind's advocacy of authoritative parenting is right on, her assertions that firm parental control and sometimes even punishment are necessary are simply wrong. The jury is no longer out. The proven fact is that authoritative, Democratic Parenting and/or P.E.T. are better than any other parenting types. Millions upon millions of happy parents—and families—can testify to that fact.

For other study results involving the comparison of authoritative parenting and other types of parenting styles, see these authors on our website: Gauvain, Baumrind, Maccoby, Lewis, Aunola, Brassington, Hill, Larzelere, Shucksmith, Chao, Ramsey, Strage, Peterson, Fletcher, Gray, Steinberg, Lamborn, Society for the Advancement of Education, Johnson Publishing Company Inc., Berg, Snowden, McIntyre, and Slicker. Then see these books: (and the references in the back) Gordon’s Discipline That Works and Alvy’s Parent Training Today. Then see our comments on books and/or articles by these authors: Lakoff, Gould, Pugh, Critzer, Popkin, Dinkmeyer, Gordon, Faber, Dreikurs, Solter, Prinz, Kvols, and Nelsen, keeping in mind that this is just the first author listed—many works have more authors and these are listed as well in each of our references. Finally, check out the real courses (begin with Internet searches) that teach various forms of authoritative and democratic parenting, like P.E.T., STEP, Winning Family Lifeskills, Positive Parenting, Positive Discipline, Redirecting Children’s Behavior, the Ginott method (see our comments on the Faber and Mazlish book Liberated Parents Liberated Children), Dreikur’s democratic parenting (see our comments on his Happy Children book), and Active Parenting.