Authoritative Parenting or Permissive Parenting: Is there a better way?

Authoritative vs. Permissive Parenting

What’s the Best Way? Authoritative Parenting or Permissive Parenting?

Neither. Let’s look into each form of parenting and determine what works best for lasting respect and cooperation from your kids.

Authoritative Parenting

This seems to be the most common way to parent – using punishment or rewards to get kids to behave. Many of us grew up with authoritative parenting, which is based on dominance and fear. It’s a model where you have power over your children. You determine what is best and right for them, and you try to persuade and control them by enforcing compliance with punishments or rewards.

If this works for you, then what’s the problem?

Having too much control over your kids can damage the relationship you have with them, and actually lessen their cooperation and respect. Authoritative parenting can make kids feel hurt and resentful, and it can undermine their sense of safety and their trust in you.

When you encourage your kids to cooperate for the reward or to avoid the punishment, rather than doing things because they see the value in doing it, this can diminish their internal guidance and their natural desire to cooperate and contribute. You may unintentionally train them to ignore their intuition and suppress their feelings and needs.

Punishments and rewards might seem to work well, since you do get compliant kids – temporarily. But if a child behaves out of fear of the punishment or the desire for reward, they might not be developing the self-discipline and good judgement they need as a teen or later in life. Too much authority and control might not give them a chance to develop the ability to think for themselves. This will make them more vulnerable to peers and other influences.

I was raised by authoritarian parents, and I became a rebellious teen with self-destructive behavior. It took me many years to figure out what I was feeling, what I needed to be happy, and to speak up for myself. I was always trying to figure out how everyone needed me to be in order to make them happy and to avoid conflict.

The big irony is that authoritative parenting LESSENS our influence; it doesn’t make it stronger.

Would you rather have your kids decide to do something good simply because they truly want to help? Would you prefer that they listen to you out of true respect rather than to avoid having a privilege taken away?

Permissive Parenting

Some of us were raised with permissive parenting. This is another model that is based on fear. While authoritarian parenting is based on the child’s fear of losing the parent’s love, permissive parenting is based on the parent’s fear of losing the child’s love. With permissive parenting, your child doesn’t know where the limits or boundaries are, which can also undermine safety and trust.

Kids need to know their limits and boundaries, so they can feel safe in the world. They need to express and work through their feelings in being told “no” so they can tolerate disappointments and frustrations later in life and they can form healthy relationships.

Without developmentally reasonable limits, kids have fewer opportunities to practice self-discipline and emotional regulation, which are important skills for creating a happy life. It takes self-discipline to manage all aspects of life, including being considerate of others.

If your kids aren’t able to trust that you will enforce the rules, they may begin to disrespect you and become more challenging, looking for limits and proof that they are loved.

If neither of these parenting models work, then what does?

Connection Parenting (may also be called Peaceful Parenting or Conscious Parenting)

Connection parenting is proactive rather than reactive, and it’s the only model that truly works for lasting respect and cooperation. It shifts the focus from control over your child to guiding and empowering your child to make choices that are in alignment with your family values.

Sometimes this is called conscious parenting. Conscious means being mindful, attentive and aware of your child’s feelings and needs. This awareness is everything when it comes to parenting, since you then have the keys to what motivates and what discourages your child. You can better understand and prevent unnecessary reactions and outbursts and create a more peaceful way of being together.

Connection parenting creates respect between you and your kids. Everyone feels honored and empowered, and you work together to find solutions and mutually agreed upon actions and limits. This inspires true cooperation.

Your child’s level of cooperation and desire to accept the family rules is directly related to the level of positive connection they feel with you. Without this strong bond and connection, your child may try to fight your authority and act out in negative ways. Anything that undermines your connection is counterproductive.

Punishments and rewards are reactive, and you probably find that you are having to react over and over again. Maintaining a close connection with your child can reduce or even eliminate those behaviors that cause both you and your child to react. You can prevent the power struggles and the never-ending cycles of acting out.

When you show your kids how to communicate respectfully and positively, they will also learn how to create mutually respectful relationships and powerful connections later in life.

Would you love to establish positive relationships with your kids that will last a lifetime? And would you love for them to be in healthy relationships as they grow older?

Let’s look deeper into connection parenting and how you can build a strong bond that gives you the greatest influence and a satisfying, mutually respectful relationship with your kids that lasts a lifetime.

Learn How to Create a Strong Connected Relationship with Your Kids


  1. Hello!

    I agree with everything you’re saying about “conscious parenting.” However, the “authoritative” parenting you refer to is actually better and more accurately referred to as “authoritarian.” “Authoritative” parenting is closer to “conscious parenting” as you’ve described it; consistent, loving and fewer, but firm boundaries/rules.

    1. Hi Trista, thanks for your comment. I appreciate your insight. There are many different words people use to describe different forms of parenting. Conscious parenting can also be called peaceful parenting or connection parenting. There are definitely boundaries and limits. The difference between this and authoritative or authoritarian is that parent and child work together to find solutions and mutually agreed upon actions and limits – out of respect for each other. The child respects boundaries and limits because she is alignment with the reason behind it. The “why” is important to her and she is motivated to follow through. It does not come from a place of anyone’s control or authority. Control or authority can undermine intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is what inspires true cooperation and self-discipline.

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