Diana Baumrind (1991) believes parents interact with their children in one of three basic ways, that is,
authoritarian, authoritative, or permissive.
Authoritarian parenting expects the child to follow the parent's directions and to respect work and
effort. The authoritarian parent strictly limits and controls the child and does not allow any discussion. For
example, when there is a difference in opinion as to how to do something, the authoritarian parent might
say, "You do it my way or else. .." Children of authoritarian parents are often anxious about being compared
to others, lack initiative and have poor communication skills.
Authoritative parenting encourages children to be independent but still limits and controls their behavior. A lot of verbal
give-and-take is allowed and parents are supportive and warm towards the child.
An authoritative parent might put his arm around the child in a comforting way and say, "You know you
should not have clone that; let's talk about how you can handle the situation better next time." Children
whose parents are authoritative tend to be well-adjusted, self-reliant and socially responsible.
Permissive parenting places few demands or controls on the child. Such parents let their children do
what they want, and the result is the children never learn to control their own behavior. They always
expect to get their own way. When they cannot get what they want, they may either lose their temper or
throw tantrums. Such children also do not learn to respect others.
Despite the current concern about the relevance of parental models, it still appears that parents are a vital
force in helping the adolescent. The events of childhood and specifically, the history of parent-child
relationships that adolescents bring with them from childhood affect the way the adolescents react to the
new demands of the period. For example, the overprotected child may find the adolescent peer society
unwilling to give in to him or her all the time. Perhaps the most important feature of adolescent-parent
interaction is how this mutual relationship helps the adolescent to develop a sense of independence or
An important aspect of adolescent development is achieving autonomy. Autonomy is the ability to make
decisions independently and to go through life without being too dependent on other people. If adolescents
are to 'make it' as adults, they cannot be rushing home for reassuring hugs whenever they get upset.
Parents want their children to become autonomous, and adolescents want the freedom to become
In the past, many psychologists assumed that for adolescents to achieve autonomy, they need to be
separated from their parents -- cutting the cords so to say. Now researchers understand that it is best for
their development if adolescents maintain a close relationship with their families, even as they are
achieving autonomy and preparing to leave home. The goals are autonomy as well as attachment, or
independence as well as interdependence.
In fact, adolescents are most likely to become autonomous and well-adjusted if their parents
consistently enforce a reasonable set of rules. They involve their teenagers in decision-making, monitor
their comings and goings, and continue to be warm and supportive. It appears that parents who are
democratic and give frequent explanations for their rules help in developing independent behavior in their
children. Children of autocratic parents normally lack confidence and are more dependent on others.
Adolescents who are given the chance to participate in discussions of relevant family issues - including
their own activities and behavior - and participate in decision-making, are more likely to think that their
parents are fair and reasonable. This is in spite of the fact that parents still remain the ultimate authority.
In other words the winning approach is an authoritative style of parenting. An authoritative parenting style
gives adolescents opportunities to develop their independence while still having the benefit of their parents'
guidance and advice. It is when parents are extremely strict or extremely permissive that teenagers are
most likely to be psychologically affected and get into trouble.
The parent-child relationship is truly a partnership. Its quality depends on what both parents and their
children do to strengthen their relationship.