What is Permissive Parenting

Authoritative versus authoritarian parenting style

In response to NFL player Adrian Peterson's indictment last week for child abuse, essayist Michael Eric Dyson wrote a reflective piece on the roots of Corporal Punishment within the American black community.

Among many insights is the following quote:

"The point of discipline is to instill values ​​in children. The purpose of punishment is to enforce compliance and safe control, and when it fails to inflict pain as a form of vengeance ..."

Dyson discusses the etymology of the two words. "Discipline" comes from the Latin "Students;"from which we get the word" pupil "." Punishment "comes from the Greek"Points "and Latin "Points, "which means vengeance, from which we get the words "pain" and "punishment".

I find "discipline" an interesting word when it comes to education. It means one who shares a master's beliefs and follows his teaching. It also means staying on a difficult path despite temptation, as in the phrase "self-discipline". The distinction between discipline and punishment, in my opinion, is clearly evident in how we use the two sentences "self-discipline" and "self-punishment". The first is a strength. The latter doesn't work.

Self-punishment and self-discipline mean very different things.

Psychologists classically describe general ways of parenting in terms of parenting styles. The most commonly used typology of normal parenting is based on the work of Diana Baumrind. She distinguished between authoritative, authoritarian andpermissive Education. (Later Maccoby and Martin developed a typology of parenting based on Baumrind's work and added a Neglect / abuse Category; Parenting typologies do not address abusive or pathological parenting.)

In contrast to later parenting typologies that were fused with her work, Baumrind focused on control: she believed that it was the parents' job to socialize and educate children. However, parents differ in the type of control they exert. I want to focus on authoritarian and authoritative parenting as these two styles really differ in this idea of ​​punishment and discipline. (The other two types of parents - permissive and careless - have both relatively low attempts at control and socialization.)

Authoritarian parentsbelieve that children are naturally strong-willed and forgiving. They value obedience to higher authority as a virtue in itself. Authoritarian parents see their main task in bowing the child's will to that of authority - the parent, the church, the teacher. Willpower is considered to be the root of misfortune, bad behavior, and sin. So a loving parent is one who tries to break the child's will.

Baumrind's role model for an authoritarian mother is Susanna Wesley, the mother of the founders of the Methodist Church. She writes:

As self-will is the root of all sin and misery, so whatever cherishes this in children provides for their misery ... whatever tests and ashamed it promotes their future happiness and piety.

Wesley's discipline was "strict, consistent, and loving," clearly motivated by her love for her children (Baumrind's original description of authoritarian parenting with supportive quotes can be found on page 891 here).

Authoritative Parents are also strict, consistent, and loving, but their values ​​and beliefs about parents and children are markedly different. Authoritative parents are topic-oriented and pragmatic and not motivated by an external, absolute standard. They tend to adjust their expectations based on the child's needs. They listen to the children's arguments even though they are not allowed to change their minds. They convince and explain as well as punish. Above all, they try to balance the child's responsibility adaptable to the needs and demands of others with the child's right to be respected and to meet his own needs (see page 891 above). 1

My students have always struggled with the words "authoritative" and "authoritarian" because they have been used almost interchangeably over the years. But they are fundamentally different, as are the words "punishment" and "discipline". Authoritative parents teach and guide their children. Their goal is to socialize their children so that they accept and appreciate what their parents appreciate. They hope that their children will internalize their goals. They are shepherds. The word "authoritative" was chosen to imply that parents have power because they are wiser and legitimate leaders of the culture.

However, authoritarian parents exercise control through power and coercion. They have power because they exercise their will over their children.

Interestingly, authoritative parents tend to be more strict and consistent than authoritarian parents. You set fewer rules, but you can enforce them better. The children of authoritarian and authoritarian parents are usually equally good and productive. However, the children of authoritarian parents tend to be a little more depressed and have lower self-esteem than those of the authoritative parents.


1. Studies of ethnic differences in the United States have produced some interesting results. According to the original tree bark classification scheme and the ones derived from it, Asian-American and African-American parents are more likely to be classified as authoritarian than European-Americans. Authoritarian parenting in these groups can have more benefits. Researchers have speculated that this could be due to measurement problems that tend to be culturally based on Euro-American norms of behavior, differences in the cultural meaning of discipline, and differences in neighborhoods and peer groups. In general, stricter parenting has greater benefits in high risk environments. More revealing parenting is most beneficial in safer cases. This applies to different types of neighborhoods and schools as well as different historical periods. In general and across cultures, however, authoritative parenting, with its high levels of warmth and control, has shown broad positive effects.