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Transactional vs Transformational Parenting Styles - Their Effectiveness for Parenting Teenagers

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

This Reports Compares Transactional Versus Transformational

parenting styles, for parenting teenagers.




Parenting Styles

Many parents have never seriously considered themselves as leaders.

Now, as a parent of teens who may never have considered yourself as a leader, let me tell you today you are a leader; because leadership is getting someone to do something you want done. Isn’t it?

And, isn’t trying to get our kids, teens and young people to do what needs to be done what we as parents are attempting to do all the time?

According to according to Eisenhower, effective leadership is getting someone to do something you want, because they want to.

So, I guess you can see where I am going with this one.

With teenagers though, you know for sure it gets a little bit more interesting and trickier trying to get them to do anything; even when you know for sure that it is good for them.

In teenage years, the game changes!

The one effective way to get teenagers to do something whilst protecting and promoting their dignity, is through influence.

You and I know that some of our teenagers are way bigger than us and tactics such as sending or lifting to “naughty corners” are futile. Besides, you want the young person to practice and learn to take the required action so that they can practice these life skills. Trying to force them to do things may easily get you locked into a power struggle with your teenager.

Other tactics such as telling and yelling just don’t work, and even when they work, they are short-term and do not empower the teenager. These tactics can also leave you feeling like a failed parent for treating your teenager badly because truly, you didn't set out to treat your teenager badly, I don't think any parent sets out to do that. What we as parents wish is that our teenagers can be motivated to do what needs doing, and get up and do it, without us nagging, bribing and even manipulating.

This is why as parents we must learn to act as the leaders and any parent of teenagers can learn to be an effective leader.

I hope it is now clear why I say that, as parents of teens you and I are leaders to our teenagers. It is therefore necessary we adopt real leadership skills in order to influence our teenagers towards appropriate, noteworthy and positive action and behaviour.

Here is the good news

Having established that you as a parent are a leader, the good news is becoming an effective leader or an effective parent can be learned and improved.

Now that we've equated parenting to leadership,let's go straight and see the 2 different parenting styles that we can use when parenting our teenagers and which one is more effective; transactional or transformational style for parenting teens.

Comparing Transactional and Transformational leadership in relation to parenting styles.

Are you a transactional parent or a transformational parent?

I am sure by now you have an idea of what parenting style you have mainly been practising, by no matter what this is not meant to bash anyone but to educate us all because we are all learners in this journey of life. By the end of this report however, I am sure you'll have made a decision on which way of parenting teenagers you'd rather follow.

In transactional parenting style, knowingly or unknowingly parents are mainly focused on getting the teenager to do what has been set, in the ways established by the parents. On the other hand, transformational parenting style, is mainly focused on inspiring and empowering teenagers to be their own independent and autonomous young people and, allows teenagers to discover ways of doing what is needed to be done.

In transactional parenting style, parents are mainly concerned with getting the teenager to fit into the image they have built in their own mind i.e how the parent views the teenager should turn out. On the other hand, in transformational parenting style, parents inspire their teenagers to be their own best version and achieve their own unique potential.

Transactional Parenting Style

The transactional style of parenting like transactional leadership, can be a very myopic and short-sighted ploy to get teenagers to do what we as parents want, here and now. Consideration of whether long term lessons or habits are being learnt is ignored.

Transactional parenting is usually associated with overbearing and regimental rules and therefore fear and punishment. Transactional parents tend to focus on the here and now gains, and are usually more concerned with their own image as a parent, than have true desire to address the teenagers' needs and to develop teenagers’ mental thinking and reasoning muscles.

Parents who practice transactional style, value doing more than being. Thus, creativity is often quashed as creative solutions from the teenagers are not encouraged. Threats of imagined or actual punishment is what drives the teenager to act. Teenagers' actions therefore do not amount to or lead to motivated long-lasting learning and behaviour change - because they take action that based on fear and their lives are laced with resentment.

Here are 4 main characteristics of transactional parenting style.


The parent’s image is hinged on teen's behaviour; and, because the parent has invested in this, they feel the need to force things to be done exactly as they want. This is to prevent the teenagers from behaving in ways that let the parents down and embarrass the parents. Instead of parents taking the stance that the teenager is responsible for their own behaviour and allow them to face the consequences of their actions, these parents use force to get things done. When force don't work as they hoped, these transactional parents will often tend to cover the tracks and cracks of their teenager’s behaviour, in order to save their own face.


In transactional parenting, there are dictatorial and forceful rules. This is usually demonstrated by the “my way or the highway”. Now, because the teenager still needs and relies on the parent for basic needs, they feel compelled to do whatever it takes to survive. Unfortunately, by doing this, the teenager does not thrive, because doing things under duress doesn’t help the teenager develop reasoning and thinking prowess.


Transactional parenting is overbearing and entails enforcement of rules which can lead to resentment. This is very detrimental because, even though the teenager may appear to do what they are asked to, they harbour hatred and resentment in their hearts, and this is how relationships between teenagers and parents are severed and ruined, some for life. A teenager in this situation would usually tell themselves that as soon as they don’t have to live with their parent, they are out. So, right there is a deadly defiance brewing inside, instead of a long-term healthy relationship with their parent.


Transactional parenting is constricting, stale and stagnant. This is because growth and autonomy are not encouraged, and this constricts the teenager’s ability to grow and develop. They get used to following rules blindly even when the rules don’t work anymore. These teenagers turn into young people who continue to believe that something that worked 20 years ago still works. Why? because their parent said so. These teenagers never learn to exercise own judgement and evoke their own rationale because they were never given the opportunity to do so.

Although transactional parenting is mainly constrictive and short sighted, this style of parenting teenagers can be effective in some situations.

For example, in an emergency where rules and regulations must be followed to keep everyone safe. e.g. in recent 2020 quarantine times when there was a national lockdown, most teenagers felt hit by the fact that they couldn't go outside. In this case rigid rules of social distancing were important for the sake of everyone’s safety, therefore transactional parenting for such cases would be appropriate.

This said, in the same situation a parent who adopts transformational style (which we will address below) would not be like "in you stay because I said so” . Instead there would be discussions about these rules and their importance so that the teenager achieves their own understanding as to why these rules are in place, these parents would do it this way because their aim is facilitating growth.

Transformational Parenting Style

Transformational parenting is mainly about building trust between parent young person. Thus, the parent becomes a model and mentor that their teenager can trust.

Parents practicing transformational style understand that every young person has their own unique path and potential. They therefore prepare and set out to support their teenager to achieve their potential, in the teenager's own unique way. These parents haven’t got a predetermined set image of how their teenager should turn out. They realise that their role is to inspire their kid to be their own best version and achieve their own unique potential.

Transformational parenting style is more concerned with longer-term plans to support and empower teenagers to be who they are designed to be. They are not concerned with the speed at which their teenagers goes but focus is directed on mastery of longer-term lessons and habits.

Transformational parenting is usually associated with negotiations, discussions, praising the process and the person in the knowledge that teenagers are evolving and growing. It takes patience. The trying and tough moments are many, however, these parents are are aware that, it is in these quiet struggle that growth happens.

In transformational parenting there are directives, but these are negotiable, and they can be broken with love, logic and rationale. As the focus is on longer-term gains for the teenager, the parent is usually not mainly concerned with the here and now inability of their teenager, because the teenager's behaviour is not tied to the parent's self image or esteem.

Transformational parents take time to lean in and listen to the true desires of their teenagers and address these accordingly, or encourage the teenager to find their own solutions to their own needs. And as teenagers find their own solutions, they develop mental prowess, strong thinking and reasoning muscles.

Aspects such as kindness, peacefulness, helpfulness are valued in transformational parenting. Even when there is no obvious tangible results to show for it, the fact that someone is happier and healthier is enough.

In addition, adding value to other people’s lives is viewed as more important than competing and completing tasks.

Creative solutions are highly encouraged in transformational parenting and because there is no fear of punishment, love thrives and a healthy relationship is created and cemented, relationships which are likely to last way beyond their teenage years and into adulthood.

Here are 4 Characteristics of transformational parenting style.


Transformational parenting empowers and seeks the best interest of the teenager. At the center of transformational parenting is a heart to heart connection, care and compassion; qualities that can only be positively fruitful.


In transformational parenting, autonomy is promoted, which helps to increase self-esteem, trust, confidence and competence of the teenager. Competence promotes confidence and as the confidence increases competence increases, then more competence and more confidence, and this spirals on wards and outwards.


Transformational parenting is concerned with constant improvement of arguments, reasoning and rationale. Instead of yelling or upping the voice and volume, what is encouraged is widening, enriching and increasing the scope of the argument and reasoning. In this way respect is given and maintained. In this respectful relationship you as a parent are modelling respect and your teenager is learning to express themselves and their argument respectfully.


Transformational parents are themselves inspired parents, consequently they inspire and growth and development in their teens. It is in such an environment that teenagers learn to be productive young people, members of the family and the society at large. Inspired teenagers become young adults who can fend for themselves, position their needs and arguments fairly. They also have the insight to know when someone is being unfair, and call them out. Transformational parenting prepares and teaches teenagers to engage in safe relationships, thus these teenagers are unlikely to condone or be involved in abusive relationships.

Having considered both parenting styles, transformational and transactional, I believe you can see that the transformational parenting style is certainly a more effective style of parenting with positive long-term effects.

When your teenager feels like they have been treated like a worthy human being and not a human doing, they learn that they are valued, and they are valuable to the society and have a confidence to venture and be of value to the socie

Autonomous teenagers and young people; those who have been empowered and encouraged to express their creativity are not afraid of failing because they have learned to fall forward, get up and keep moving – this encourages onward and upward development.

The trust that is built within transformational parenting fuels healthy relationships and from this strong anchor, teenagers learn to trust other people and to build healthy relationships.

Parents who practice transformational parenting style, are relieved from the burden of covering their teenagers’ mistakes and negative behaviour because these parents are aware that teenagers' behaviour is their own responsibility.

Also, once a parent has empowered their young person, they don’t have to follow them around controlling and monitoring them. These young people become competent, confident, strong characters, with high self-esteem, and are able to exercise freedom, take ownership, and continuously take charge of their personal development, therefore no supervision needed.

I know some propagators of transactional parenting style who argue with me that the most important thing is to get the parenting work done and that results are achieved whichever parenting style you implement.

Whilst this may be true in a way, constant transactional parenting can result into destroyed souls, un-achieved potential, and leave you with a shell of a son or daughter, because they were never allowed to bring their best and their all, to the table

Anyhow, as parents it always and it is really is up to us to decide whether we want to be transformational parents or transactional parents).

Transformational parents empower, inspire and motivate their teenagers to achieve their best personal goals, elevate their level of maturity are more concerned with the personal development of the teenager than the immediate results or their own image. In the end the impact of transformational parenting is reflected in the happiness, empowerment and morality of a young people who becomes a productive member of the society.

In the program Transformational Parenting Masterclasses we mentor parents who have made the decision to be transformational parents. Not only does this program make a happier and healthier parent, the principles and strategies taught enable parents to be powerful models and mentors, true leaders that influence their teenagers to be remarkable young people.

You too can realise the benefits of being transformational parent by making that wise decision and JOINING the program Transformational Parenting Masterclasses.

You Will Learn  3 Powerful Fundamental Skills of Transformational Parenting;

  1. How to influence your teenager, by empowering, motivating and elevating their level of maturity and personal development.

  2. How to be a model and mentor respected and loved by your teenager and effectively guide them to be respectful, responsible, resilient, robust and radiant.

  3. Skills and acumen that make you a transformational parent and leader to your teenager.

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Transformational and transactional leadership

Bass 1985

Burns 1975

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