This week we have been doing a series on parenting styles. Yesterday, we looked at the permissive style of parenting. Today, we will look at another style of parenting that is called authoritarian parenting.
In this article we will look at an authoritarian parenting definition, show an example of authoritarian parenting and even talk about the effects of authoritarian parenting on children. Oh, and don’t forget the pros and cons of authoritarian parenting! So,we have a lot to talk about right now!
We thank you for taking the time to read our article here on Best Case Parenting, and hope we can provide some information and food for thought on this subject.
What is authoritarian parenting?
When looking for an authoritarian parenting definition, we will start by turning to Wiki!
“Authoritarian parenting is a restrictive, punishment-heavy parenting style in which parents make their children follow their directions with little to no explanation or feedback and focus on the child’s and family’s perception and status.”
This is how Wiki describe it. To give an example of authoritarian parenting, it is a bit like the parenting version of one of those movie army sergeants. Well, maybe not THAT bad, but you get the idea.
Authoritarian parents use somewhat angry and aggressive methods of discipline such as shouting. Discipline and rules are prioritised in the home, having to be followed closely or else face heavy consequences.
The key point in the authoritarian style of parenting, is that the parent is unresponsive. This means, that they don’t often explain or justify the rules and punishments that take place.
Authoritarian parents often say things like “Do it because I said so” and “don’t answer back”. They feel that they are always right as the parent and that their children should follow everything they say without questioning. They don’t expect or seek any input from the child.
You could argue that this style of parenting is somewhat controlling from the parents point of view.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of authoritarian parenting.
What are the pro’s of authoritarian parenting?
Some people argue that by being so harsh on your child, that it will make it easier for them to deal with harsh situations outside of the home.
I am not sure that you could say that this is a good example of authoritarian parenting positives, but children raised this way are often conformist and obedient.
An authoritarian parenting household has a very clear and exact set of rules. This means that the child is never confused about this and always knows what the expectations are for them in the household.
What are the con’s of authoritarian parenting?
The effects of authoritarian parenting have been widely researched, and there seems to be some pretty serious side effects on children of authoritarian parents. I have posted some links to relevant research papers on this subject at the end of this article. If you feel the need to find out more, that could be a good starting point!
If you constantly shout at children and use anger to control children, you end up in a spiral that can only get worse. This is because, after a while, the children get somewhat used to all this and then it takes even more anger and aggression to get the same response from the child.
When a child is constantly told what to do by their parents, it could hinder their free thinking and creativity levels. They are often low on confidence, having been often repressed by very strict parents.
These children are so used to being tightly controlled and told what to do by their parents, that they almost loose the ability to think for themselves. Or their lack of practice simply makes them bad at it! These children are often not socially competent, because they are not used to dealing with a wide range of situations themselves.
As these children are so tightly controlled, there is a tendency for them to rebel or push against this when they get older. This can lead to teenagers or young adults that can get more easily out of control when they are outside the tight reins of their parents.
The authoritarian style of parenting not only puts strict rules in place, but also places high demands on the child. Quite often, these demands can be unrealistic and non negotiable for the child and can lead to frustration and resentment.
The child will often directly link their self esteem to the rules and expectations of their parents. As a lot of the rules and expectations are so strict and unrealistic, low self esteem could be an issue.
When thinking about the effects of authoritarian parenting, the mental health side is quite a concerning one for me. Some studies have shown that children of authoritarian parents are more likely to have mental health issues. For the child, it often feels like they have lived through a war zone. Everything is a fight against a very strict parent. This can leave a child feeling emotionally unstable. They might get used to hiding their mistakes, with the constant fear of serious consequences.
There are often low levels of love and affection shown with authoritarian parenting. The parent feels that they are doing the best for their child by showing them this “tough love”.
I have been an Early Childhood teacher for over ten years. In my time, I have seen some teachers that are constantly shouting at their children in an effort to control them. For me, this is just trying to rule the children by fear. When a teacher has no other strategies left, they end up shouting. When a teacher shouts a lot, I feel this is a sign of a bad teacher (when it comes to student control).
Parenting is not exactly the same as teaching, but I would make a somewhat similar comparison when it comes to the authoritarian parenting style of parenting. I would say that authoritarian parents are those which have chosen to go down a path of using anger, fear and shouting to control their child. This could be because they have no idea how to control their child in any other way. Maybe they have tried others ways to control their child that they feel have failed.
The only other reason I can think of, is if they have come from a background of authoritarian environments and think this is the best way to bring up their child too. Maybe they had authoritarian parents or maybe they were in the army or some other authoritarian work environment.
I keep talking about balance in these parenting style articles and the authoritarian parenting one is no different!
Permissive parenting is too loose and open in terms of the behavioural side of parenting. This parenting style is the opposite, being too strict and demanding.
For me, the best parenting style is a balance of these things. Like I said above, if you constantly shout at a child, they will get used to it anyway. The effects of authoritarian parenting on the child will start to diminish in the long run, leading to a need to keep ramping up this parenting style. Whereas, if you don’t shout often, when you do the child really knows that you are serious about something.
Parenting is all about balance and I believe the authoritarian style of parenting is not providing a good balance for your child.
I would encourage you to do further research on the subject and form your own opinion. Here are some examples of research documents on the authoritarian style of parenting:
Not exactly coffee table books here, but certainly good reads if you are interested in the research behind authoritarian parenting.
What do you think are the pros and cons of authoritarian parenting? Do you have an example of authoritarian parenting to share? If you have anything to offer to the authoritarian parenting debate, we would love to hear it below in the comments section.