In individualist cultures, there have been consistent findings to suggest that authoritative parenting is correlated to positive child outcomes. Cross-culturally, these findings are not as significant and parenting styles reminiscent of the authoritarian style have shown to be effective amongst those cultures. Even within individualist cultures like the United States, the authoritative parenting style can have different effects depending on the race or ethnicity of the child and the socioeconomic status of the child’s family. In this examination of authoritative parenting, though, child outcomes will be described in a general sense and the focus will be on individualist cultures.

1 Comparison to other parenting styles
2 Academic achievement
3 Emotional and behavioral outcomes
4 References

Comparison to other Parenting Styles

Authoritative_parenting.jpgAuthoritative parents are both highly demanding and highly responsive, and offer an appropriate type of balance not seen in the authoritarian, permissive and indifferent parenting styles. Among other negative outcomes, permissive parenting relates to low cognitive ability and emotional empathy development within the child (Aunola, et. al., 2000) and the authoritarian parenting style tends to relate to aggression, poor academic performance and lower degrees of self-reliance and social competence compared to children raised in authoritative environments (Steinberg, Dornbusch & Brown, 1992). On the other hand, parenting practices in an authoritative household center around positive development in every aspect of one's life. Positive support and high expectations, along with providing children a lot of opportunities, helps predict independence, self-confidence, motivation, critical thinking skills and self-regulation (Hess & McDevitt, 1984; Ginsburg & Bronstien, 1993 ). An example of a positively involved parent would be a parent skiing with their child to promote physical health or reading to their child to promote academic success. Additionally, according to Baumrind (1996), authoritative discipline strategies (e.g. setting firm, consistent limits and providing the child a reason for the rules) promotes social responsibility, self-regulation, appropriate assertiveness, and individuality and independence. The authoritative parenting style has also been related to high levels of family interaction and family cohesiveness (Garg, et al., 2005).

Academic Achievement 

Children of authoritative parents rank the highest academically of all other parenting styles, with higher test scores, more school involvement and less undesirable behavior (Baumrind, 1991). Of interest to note, children of authoritative parents seem to thrive in most school climates, however children of non-authoritative parenting styles do best in an authoritative school climate (Pellerin, 2005). Following up on research from Baumrind’s earlier works which suggested that preschool students from authoritative parents were more mature, social and achievement-oriented than children who came from non-authoritative families, Steinberg, Dornbusch and Brown (1992) and colleagues completed several studies on academic achievement and parenting styles. Their compilation of studies showed that children from authoritative parents had higher rates of achievement and there was also a correlation between a high GPA and the authoritative parenting style (Steinberg, Dornbusch & Brown, 1992). The researchers theorized that authoritative parents provide their children with emotional security and this leaves them with a sense of comfort and independence and helps them succeed in school.

Emotional and Behavioral Outcomes

Research indicates that supportive parenting styles promote positive empathy development, which is linked to positive social behavior into adolescence and adulthood (Schaffer, Clark, & Jeglic 2009). In addition to these findings, Krevans and Gibbs (1996) suggest that the expression of parental disappointment in an authoritative household can serve as a learning opportunity to encourage the development of a moral identity. This suggests that a supportive parent pointing out a misdeed to a child can help that child realize the behavioral error that was made and give counsel for remediation, thereby promoting development of a positive self-concept. Further research indicates that when both parents are on board with the authoritative parenting style (dyadic parenting) the positive effect of this style is typically amplified (Meteyer & Jenkins, 2009).
Other findings suggest that children of authoritative parents tend to be cooperative with peers, siblings and adults. These children are also more likely to have positive reasoning ability, empathy and altruism (Baumrind, 1996). Perhaps most important, from a parental perspective, is that parents who use authoritative parenting style have more influence with their children than their peers do (Bednar & Fisher, 2003). This is especially important because a number of a child’s learned behavior occurs at school or in other social environments away from home. It’s possible that this particular parenting style steers the child in a particular positive direction and the warmth given and correct limits set by the parents enable the child to conform less to peer influences.


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Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development online. (2009). Adventures in parenting. Retrieved November 19, 2010, from:
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Pellerin, L.A. (2005). Applying Baumrind's parenting typology to high schools: toward a middle-range theory of authoritative socialization. Social Science Research, 34, 283-303.
Schaffer, M., Clark, S., & Jeglic, E., (2009). The role of empathy and parenting Style in the Development of Antisocial Behaviors. Crime and Delinquency, 55, 586-599.
Steinberg, L., Dornbusch, S., & Brown, B. (1992). Ethnic differences in adolescent achievement: An ecological perspective. American Psychologist, 47, 723-729.