Of all the parenting styles, the authoritative one is generally accepted as the most successful in producing well-balanced, productive and respectful children. Parents who use the authoritative style maintain their control in the home, but still manage to have a warm and close relationship with their children. There are clear rules and boundaries, but discussion is welcomed and children’s feelings and opinions are taken into account. When the parents’ expectations are not met, there are consequences which help the child to move in the right direction, with support and encouragement from the parent.
So this all sounds pretty perfect – could there even possibly be any cons or downsides to this parenting style? Apparently yes, and this article will highlight a few of the possible downsides of authoritative parenting in the discussion below. So if you are a parent doing your utmost to raise your kids the best you know how, then here are a few more points for you to consider as you hone your parenting skills.
Authoritative parenting keeps you on your toes
Once you become a parent, it is for life. Sure, your hands-on parenting years are relatively few and short lived, but you will always be the parent of your child. For the first eighteen odd years of your child’s life you will no doubt need to rally all your resources to meet the challenges of parenthood. At some point you will have to decide on some kind of ‘parenting style,’ either consciously or unconsciously.
If you choose to aim for the authoritative style, where you set clear boundaries while maintaining a warm and close relationship with your child, you will find that there is no ‘time off’. The minute your kids sense that mom or dad is feeling tired/lazy/not-with-it today, they will press their advantage and you may lose a lot of hard-won ground if you are not vigilant and consistent about maintaining the boundaries that you have set.
So one of the possible downsides of authoritative parenting is that you constantly need to be on your toes, and you can’t afford to ‘slack off’ if you want to make it work. But then isn’t it like that with anything worthwhile? It takes hard work and perseverance.
Authoritative parenting runs the risk of rebellion
The authoritative parenting style is also sometimes referred to as the ‘democratic’ style. This is because the children are given a say, and they are allowed and indeed encouraged to voice their opinions. So whenever you give people the freedom to express themselves, chances are that they will choose the opposite of what you wanted for them.
There is certainly a risk involved in using the authoritative parenting style, but consider the alternative, where children are given no choice and they are compelled to obey all their parents’ commands and wishes. This kind of dictatorial or authoritarian parenting can often result in children complying out of fear for the consequences which will be meted out. And as soon as they can break free from this kind of control there is a greater risk that they will rebel and experiment with harmful behaviour.
So within the controlled environment of an authoritative approach, certainly there may be some rebellion, but then the parent is able to work it through with the child in an open and supportive manner.
Authoritative parenting is tricky to maintain during disputes
Following on from the risk of rebellion, certainly authoritative parenting gets hectic during disputes with a wilful child. All parents dread those episodes when their darling child behaves in a rude, stubborn or even arrogant manner. Keeping cool at such times can be a major challenge when every instinct is telling you to regain control of the situation and quash the coup d’état, as it were… This is where the authoritative parent needs to be firm but loving, and gently uphold the boundaries you have set, allowing the consequences to follow.
During disputes it would be easy to put your foot down and slip into the authoritarian approach – ‘my way or the highway’. On the other hand the converse permissive approach would be to shrug your shoulders and let the child get away with his or her bad behaviour. In many ways it is a balancing act, and you may feel like a tightrope walker, tottering along a very precarious route. Stay strong and keep the goal in mind as you exercise all the patience you can muster.
Authoritative parenting needs constant review
When you are using the authoritative parenting style, you will have to be flexible, constantly reviewing and reevaluating your methods and strategies. Children change and develop so quickly; something which worked very well for your four year old, may not be working well at all by the time he is seven or eight. So you need to be open to amend and modify the rules as you go along.
If you are a person who likes to decide on something once and for all and then let it remain constant year in and year out, then this aspect of authoritative parenting may well be a downside for you. But if you relish the challenge of rising to the occasion, you will find yourself developing new responses to the ever fresh and surprising things that your children may come up with on a regular basis.
So enjoy the adventure of authoritative parenting as you accompany and facilitate your child’s journey into a fulfilling and responsible adulthood. And should you encounter these few ‘downsides’ along the way, use them as stepping stones to take you closer to your goal of helping your child to reach maturity in the best possible way.