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Authoritarian vs. Permissive Parenting Styles Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 25th, 2020


Psychologists have established that parenting has significant influence on the proper growth and development of children. Therefore, the type of parenting style applied has certain effects on child growth as well as the type and quality of parent-child relationship (Cherry par. 1). Developmental psychologists have found out that in certain cases, the type of parenting style used can affect the mood and temperament of children in adolescence and adulthood.

The outcome of any parenting approach is primarily determined by what parents feel and believe their children need from them. Authoritarian and permissive styles are parenting approaches that are commonly used and that have varied effects on children because they approach the concepts of discipline, warmth, nurturance, and communication differently (Cherry par. 3). Moreover, they involve the embracement of different attitudes regarding child-parent relationships.

Authoritarian versus permissive parenting

Authoritarian parenting involves the creation of strict rules that children are expected to follow without any opposition (Mgbemere and Telles par. 5). In case children object or decline to follow rules, they are disciplined for disobedience. In contrast, permissive parenting has very few demands, and as a result, allows children to be themselves and practice their creativity and imagination with regard to controlling their actions and behaviors (Joseph and John 17). Unlike authoritarian parents, permissive parents do not create any rules for their children to follow.

An important area of contrast between the two styles is the varying levels of maturity and control expected from children. In authoritarian parenting, there are high expectations of control and maturity from children. Parents expect the rules they create to be followed without exception or objection (Cherry par. 5). Children are punished for failing to follow rules because they are expected to exhibit high levels of maturity and control.

In contrast, permissive parents have relatively low expectations with regard to maturity and control. They believe that children are immature, and therefore, expecting them to behave maturely is unrealistic. In that regard, they allow children to regulate themselves and determine their actions and behaviors. Permissive parents are more responsive to their children than they are demanding while authoritarian parents are more demanding than they are responsive (Williams et al. 1063).

Authoritarian parenting is more concerned with strict observance of the rules they create than guiding children and correcting them when they make mistakes (Mgbemere and Telles par. 7). In addition, it is strict and traditional. On the contrary, permissive parenting is lenient because of the belief that the immaturity exhibited by children is a critical component of learning. Therefore, children should be given freedom to be themselves, make mistakes, and learn.

Both styles differ significantly with regard to the type of communication between parents and children. In authoritarian parenting, there is limited communication because children are expected to follow rules without any exception. There is no room for negotiation and communication is usually replaced with punishment (Mgbemere and Telles par. 7). Parents rarely talk to their children because high expectations of mature behavior eradicate the need for communication.

They assume that children are adults who are aware of the consequences of their actions and behaviors. In contrast, permissive parents regularly talk with their children because they view them as immature beings that need guidance and nurturing (Mgbemere and Telles par. 9). The relationships between parents and children are based on friendship and need for direction. Permissive parents avoid confrontations and usually take the status of friends and not parents. Poor communication between authoritarian parents and their children means that feedback regarding decisions and actions is withheld (Mgbemere and Telles par. 8).

Authoritarian and permissive parenting styles differ in the type of disciplinary strategies applied. Authoritarian parents prefer to use strategies such as criticizing, shouting, and corporal punishment (Williams et al. 1064).

These strategies are used because of the belief that parents’ main role is to help children survive and thrive in a harsh society that is characterized by negative responses such as aggressiveness and criticism. Parenting approaches that regularly expose children to negative responses are used with the aim of preparing them for adulthood (Marsiglia et al. 76). In contrast, permissive parents prefer to use strategies such as providing constructive feedback and counseling (Mgbemere and Telles par. 10). They do not expect a lot from their children because they view them as immature and prone to impulsive behaviors.

Long-term effects of parenting styles on children

One of the long-term effects of authoritarian parenting is the lack of social competence (Gross par. 3). Parents bar their children from exploring and understanding the world on their own by telling them what to do and how to behave in different situations thus impeding their optimal social growth and development. As a result, they experience problems with confidence and self-esteem (Joseph and John 19).

In contrast, children who grow under permissive parenting possess strong social skills because they get the opportunity to explore the world, form friendships, and learn how to interact and communicate effectively without parental restraint (Gross par. 7). Depression and feelings of bitterness, self-loathing, and anger are common among children brought up by authoritarian parents (Marsiglia et al. 81). Despite its negative effects, authoritarian parenting has positive influences. For example, psychologists have come to a consensus that it instills qualities such as obedience, respect for authority, accountability, and proficiency.

On the contrary, children who grow under permissive parenting are generally unhappy, unable to regulate their actions, and experience problems with authority figures (Gross par. 5). In addition, they show poor academic performance. On the other hand, permissive parenting leads to unaccountability and irresponsibility among children. The risk of engaging in risky behaviors such as drug abuse and heavy drinking are higher in children of permissive parents than in children of authoritarian parents (Gross par. 8).

Personal opinion

I think it is important to incorporate concepts from both authoritarian and permissive parenting styles. It is wrong to alter the optimal growth and development of children by subjecting them to strict rules and regulations. On the other hand, parents should not give children total freedom to do as they wish, oblivious of the consequences of their decisions and behaviors. The best parenting approach combines both styles and creates balance that allows children to grow optimally.

For instance, parents need to direct and guide their children in a nurturing and caring way instead of creating rules for them to follow. They need to provide feedback and use constructive disciplinary strategies. I believe that the parenting style adopted has significant influence on the attitudes and behaviors that children embrace. Effective parenting treats children in a caring and loving way and at the same time instills a certain level of discipline. Children need to be guided, not by creating strict rules for them to follow, but by offering guidance that empowers them to make the right decisions and correct their mistakes.

It is also important for parents to be emotionally supportive and involved in the lives of their children. It is critical for them to offer lessons on how to process and express emotions in a positive way that does not impinge on other people’s rights. For example, they need to teach their children how to address feelings of anger, frustration, and disappointment effectively. I believe that effective parenting treats children as human beings who are undergoing the long and complex process of development. In that regard, it is unrealistic for parents to have high behavioral, maturity, and self-control expectations. Children acquire qualities such as kindness, accountability, responsibility and self-control by socializing with their peers and other people.


Different parenting styles have varied outcomes that determine the level of competence and self-esteem that children possess. Authoritarian and permissive styles have both positive and negative effects. However, the best parenting incorporates concepts from both approaches by applying their positive aspects. Before choosing a style to adopt, parents should first evaluate its long-term effects and how it will shape their children.

The most effective way of parenting ensures that children get the freedom and support they need to grow optimally in all dimensions of human development. It is unethical to stifle the growth of children by subjecting them to strict parental control and manipulation through the use of rules. It is important for parents to understand that their parenting styles influence the behaviors and attitudes of their children in significant ways.

Works Cited

Cherry, Kendra. . 2016. Web.

Gross, Gail. . 2015. Web.

Joseph, Mary Venus, and Jilly John. “Impact of Parenting Styles on Child Development.” Global Academic Society Journal 1.2 (2008), 16-25. Print.

Marsiglia, Cheryl, Jeffrey Walczyk, Walter Buboltz, and Diana Griffith-Ross. “Impact of Parenting Styles and Locus of Control on Emerging Adult’s Psychosocial Success.” Journal of Education and Human development 1.1 (2007): 76-86. Print.

Mgbemere, Bianca, and Rachel Telles. Types of Parenting Styles and How to Identify Yours. 2013. Web.

Williams, Lella, Kathryn Degnan, Koraly Perez-Edgar, Heather Henderson, Kenneth Rubin, Daniel Pine, Laurence Steinberg, and Nathan Fox. “Impact of Behavioral Inhibition and Parenting Style on Internalizing and Externalizing Problems from Early Childhood through Adolescence.” Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology. 37.8 (2009): 1063-1075. NCBI. Web.

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