Dads who know the difference between authoritative parenting and simply being authoritarian enjoy a closer relationship with their children, even as these kids become adults, a new study reveals.
Unlike "authoritarian" parents who attempt to remain in firm control of their children's lives, those considered "authoritative" set clear rules and instructions, but with open discussion, according to the study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.
"If their child is struggling to pick a major in college, these dads don't tell their kids what they think it should be," Larry Nelson, Brigham Young University family life professor, said. "Instead they'll say, 'Have you ever considered this?' or 'Here's one advantage of that.' And when the child makes a choice, they say, 'I'm proud of you'."
The key to good parenting
Using data from an extensive survey of college students around the country, Nelson analysed fathers and emerging adults. He found that dads who combine love, high expectations and respect for their children's independence were closer to their kids - even as they transitioned into young adults. In turn, the children of authoritative dads were also kinder and had more self-worth than children of more authoritarian fathers.
"They know what's going on in their children's lives, and we're seeing that it's because the kids are willing to tell them," said Nelson. "The outcomes are better when parents aren't controlling."
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