Not Tough Love, but Tough and Loving – Study Reveals That Authoritative Fathering Leads to Respectful Kids

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A new study by PsychTests.com reveals that fathers who use a firm but loving parenting style are more likely to instill a sense of individuality, confidence, and respect in their children.

Authoritative dads know how to be firm yet loving.

Kids don’t need a tough love dad. They need a father who is firm yet loving.

Tough love is about setting healthy boundaries and teaching life lessons, but also being supportive and being there when needed.

Sitcoms are not the ideal source of fatherly examples, but if you search for a list of the best TV dads, you’ll see a long list of goofy fathers who spend a little too much time in front of the TV watching sports. What you’ll also see, however, is that these dads have managed to juggle two key parenting factors: Laying down the rules and setting healthy boundaries, balanced out with love, warmth, responsiveness, and wisdom (often resulting from their own crazy mistakes). According to research from PsychTests, this perfect balance of firmness and responsiveness is what goods dads tend to have a common…and good dads often have great kids.

Analyzing data from 513 fathers who took the Parenting Style Test, PsychTests’ researchers compared two distinct groups: Fathers with well-behaved children and fathers with ill-behaved kids. Here’s how these dads differed:

THEY'RE LOVING, CARING, DEPENDABLE, AND OPEN-MINDED

  • 95% of dads with well-behaved kids offer unconditional love to their children (compared to 42% of dads with ill-behaved kids).
  • 75% of dads with well-behaved kids believe that children should get plenty of love and attention (compared to 39% of dads with ill-behaved kids).
  • 95% of dads with well-behaved kids make themselves available when their children need help (compared to 45% of dads with ill-behaved kids).
  • 93% of dads with well-behaved kids encourage open communication in their households (compared to 39% of dads with ill-behaved kids).
  • 91% of dads with well-behaved kids nurture their child’s individuality and independence (compared to 48% of dads with ill-behaved kids).
  • 79% of dads with well-behaved kids said that they trust their children to make the right choices in life (compared to 42% of dads with ill-behaved kids).

THEY HAVE A CLEAR SET OF RULES

  • 95% of dads with well-behaved kids establish boundaries but also grant reasonable amounts of freedom (compared to 61% of dads with ill-behaved kids).
  • 95% of dads with well-behaved kids believe that children need discipline (compared to 68% of dads with ill-behaved kids).

ON THE FLIPSIDE…

  • 55% of dads with ill-behaved kids expect their children to adopt their parent’s values and opinions without questioning them (compared to 20% of dads with well-behaved kids).
  • 19% of dads with ill-behaved kids would rather give in to their kid’s demands and wishes than risk having their kids hate them (compared to 10% of dads with well-behaved kids).

THEY BELIEVE IN TEAM PARENTING

  • 83% of dads with well-behaved kids believe that it’s important for parents to be on the same page when it comes to how they will raise their children (compared to 45% of dads with ill-behaved kids).
  • 75% of dads with well-behaved kids discuss appropriate reprimands (e.g. grounding, taking away privileges) with their partner before administering them (compared to 29% of dads with ill-behaved kids).

THEY BELIEVE IN GOOD PARENTING, NOT PERFECT PARENTING

  • Only 38% of dads with well-behaved kids would strictly monitor and control what their kids watch on TV, and how much TV they watch.
  • 54% of dads with well-behaved kids said that they would be involved in every single one of their child’s activities.
  • 23% of dads with well-behaved kids believe that babies should only be given organic food.
  • 27% of dads with well-behaved kids believe that children should be sheltered (from injustice, bad behavior of others, etc.).

FOOD FOR THOUGHT…

AMONG THE SAMPLE OF DADS WITH WELL-BALANCED KIDS:

  • 93% had an authoritative parenting style
  • 4% had a permissive style (no rules, lots of freedom and love)
  • 3% had an authoritarian style (lots of rules; little love and warmth)

AMONG THE SAMPLE OF DADS WITH MISCHIEVOUS KIDS:

  • 39% had an authoritarian style (lots of rules; little love and warmth)
  • 32% had an authoritative parenting style
  • 19% had a negligent style (completely uninvolved in their child’s life; no rules or love)
  • 10% had a permissive style (no rules, lots of freedom and love)

“On TV, dads are portrayed as goofy and childish, mercilessly strict and aloof, or completely uninvolved in their child’s life, otherwise known as the ‘deadbeat dad,’” explains Dr. Jerabek, president of PsychTests. “For many, many decades, it was believed that tough love was the ideal childrearing approach. Fathers decided the rules, disciplined their children, and pushed the ‘as long as you’re under my roof’ mentality. The problem is that tough love was ill-defined. It isn’t about riding your kid hard because you think it will make them more resilient and wiser. Tough love is about setting healthy boundaries and teaching life lessons, but also being supportive and being there when needed. Authoritative dads don’t let kids off the hook when they mess up and do something reckless. They sit their kids down, make it clear why their behavior is wrong, require appropriate compensatory or corrective actions, and then teach their child the right thing to do. It’s the ‘Kid, I love you, but until your grades improve, no video games’ or the ‘Kid, you screwed up. Face the music and take responsibility for your mistakes. I will be there to support you, but I’m not covering for you’ approach. These are dads who know how to perfectly meld firmness with responsiveness, and toughness with lovingness. And what happens is that their children grow up to be respectful of authority - neither rebels nor fearfully obedient. They grow up to be independent, well-adjusted, resilient, and ready to face the world without carrying a chip on the shoulders. Great dads, authoritative dads, make even greater kids.”

What’s your parenting style? Check out our Parenting Style Test at https://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/2858

Professional users, such as coaches, athletic directors of scouts, can request a free demo for this or other athletic assessments from ARCH Profile’s extensive battery: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/testdrive_gen_1

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: http://hrtests.archprofile.com/personality-tests-in-hr

About PsychTests AIM Inc.
PsychTests AIM Inc. originally appeared on the internet scene in 1996. Since its inception, it has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel, therapists, academics, researchers and a host of other professionals around the world. PsychTests AIM Inc. staff is comprised of a dedicated team of psychologists, test developers, researchers, statisticians, writers, and artificial intelligence experts (see ARCHProfile.com). The company’s research division, Plumeus Inc., is supported in part by Research and Development Tax Credit awarded by Industry Canada.

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Ilona Jerabek
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