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What Is Authoritative Parenting And How You Can Practice It By Being 'Democratic'
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  • As they say, parenting doesn't come with an instructional manual. Many parents either intentionally or unconsciously adopt the way their own parents raised them, while some would say, almost always with a chuckle, that they're just winging it.

    With easy access to information in this digital age, new moms and dads have become more aware of the different styles in raising kids: gentle parenting, intensive parenting, panda parenting, and so on. But there is one that a lot of experts consider as the healthiest and most effective. It is called authoritative parenting.

    What is authoritative parenting?

    Authoritative parenting is one of the three parenting styles coined by Diana Baumrind, an American clinical and developmental psychologist. The two others are authoritarian and permissive.

    Baumrind introduced the three parenting styles in her first peer-reviewed paper on the topic, Effects of Authoritative Parental Control on Child Behavior, Child Development (1966). She gave an extensive discussion in her second and most often cited paper, Genetic Psychology Monographs (1967).

    Dr. Gail Reyes Galang, a child and family expert and educator, explains that in an authoritative parenting style, parents act more like a coach in guiding children towards desirable behaviors. She points out, "Here, parents set firm limits, but are open to discussing and negotiating rules with their children."

    What makes authoritative parenting unique?

    "Other parenting styles are not as flexible when it comes to setting rules," says Dr. Reyes Galang. "Authoritarian parents are your traditional controlling parents, who are more focused on letting children obey strict rules to meet their high expectations."

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    She adds, "Other parenting styles like Permissive parenting have arbitrary rules, while Uninvolved parenting don't usually set rules nor monitor children's behavior at all." (The uninvolved/neglectful style was added by Maccoby and Martin, 1983, to expand Baumrind's model of three parenting styles.)

    Dr. Reyes Galang expounds on why many experts consider authoritative parenting as the healthiest and most effective style: "Authoritative parenting is most ideal because the children's viewpoints are heard and taken into consideration before rules are agreed upon.

    "Since the atmosphere is warm and nurturing, children know that their parents trust them enough to solve their own problems and that they can run to them anytime for help.

    "Authoritative or democratic parenting is healthy because the lines of communication are always open. Children know and feel that they are unconditionally loved by their parents, which gives them a sense of freedom to explore within acceptable boundaries.

    "If children make a mistake, it is viewed as a learning opportunity than a set-back. As a result, children mature to be more confident, self-driven, and eager to approach life with more curiosity and purpose."

    Tips on how to practice authoritative parenting 

    To help Filipino parents practice this parenting style in their household, Dr. Reyes Galang gives tips that are arranged according to the word D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T-I-C.

    Discuss and agree on fair expectations. Whenever they succeed, gently push them to achieve higher goals. Empower children to make their own choices.

    Expand their experiences so they have more options that are also acceptable to you.

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    Model how to listen reflectively, so that they will also listen to you. While your children explain, resist the urge to rehearse a reply in your head as to why you are right and why they should just follow you.

    Offer resources they need to be good at something. If they show enough interest in a hobby, for instance, consider getting them the tools they'll be needing to nurture that interest.

    Celebrate wins. Even if you have provided the means, let your child take the credit for putting in the required energy to succeed at something.

    Reduce the tendency to offer a quick fix to their problems. Sometimes, they just want someone to listen to them.

    Ask questions to understand the situation better. Avoid the tendency to interrogate in a way that makes them feel fearful, guilty, or that they have failed you.

    Train them to manage the corresponding consequences of their mistakes or miscalculations. Avoid the tendency to make it easy for children to get away from misconduct without them experiencing its natural consequences. Example, they will lose friends if they treat them badly or they will get a zero in a test if they plagiarize.

    Invite children to share their opinions on issues without judging them for having such viewpoints. You might be fascinated by how they view certain social issues.

    Change your mindset as parents to go with the times. The world is far different than how it was during your generation. What worked then may not necessarily work now. Be open to other ways towards achieving goals.

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    You may not succeed practicing authoritative parenting at all times, but each conscious and conscientious effort is already a big step towards fostering a healthy relationship with your children. Way to go, moms and dads!

    Dr. Gail Reyes Galang is chair of the Family Studies program of Miriam College where she also teaches under the Department of Psychology. She is currently the associate director of the Center for Peace Education. Follow her on Instagram @gailfrancesgalang.

    Read also: What Is Your Parenting Style?

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