Shortridge Academy endorses an evidence-based parenting approach called authoritative parenting. Authoritative parenting, a strategy identified decades ago by Diane Baumrind, is consistently found to be more effective than authoritarian, indulgent, or permissive approaches to parenting. Authoritative parenting refers to parenting that is warm but firm. It relies on high, age-appropriate expectations as well as discipline techniques that focus primarily on discussion and explanation. Authoritative parents have a lot of verbal give-and-take with their adolescents, deal with their teens in a rational manner, and include their sons and daughters whenever possible in making decisions that affect them. These parents have realistic expectations about the abilities of their adolescents, and these expectations change over time as their children develop and mature. Authoritative parents monitor—rather than control—their teens and include them in making decisions about rules and the consequences for breaking agreed-upon rules. The goal of authoritative parenting is to provide firm boundaries but help adolescents develop self-reliance and self-monitoring so that they are able to rely on their own character and decision-making skills to make responsible choices. When control is internal, adolescents do not need to be continually controlled by parents or other adults to ensure they are behaving appropriately and not making poor decisions.
In addition to helping adolescents develop greater internal control, authoritative parenting results in a variety of social, psychological, and academic benefits. These positive outcomes include strong parent/teen attachments, increased competence and self-reliance, more developed behavioral and emotional autonomy, increased curiosity and creativity, higher social skills, and greater success in school. This approach to parenting also enhances reasoning skills, role taking, empathy, and moral judgment.
An authoritative parenting approach also can be implemented in schools and communities. Shortridge Academy staff members use authoritative strategies whenever possible in interacting with students. The school engages students in age-appropriate ways to participate in developing positive development plans, planning programs and activities, and dealing with the consequences of students’ behaviors. Students are encouraged to accept challenges but are provided the support they need to be successful. The school sets and enforces clear boundaries but is flexible in hearing and responding to students’ experiences and ideas. The greatest benefits can be derived when parents and Shortridge staff work as a team. If authoritative approaches are used both at home and at Shortridge, it creates a consistent environment within which adolescents can develop and thrive.