As a parent, you want the best for your children. You make sacrifices and take effort to ensure that you are providing them with the best opportunity for success in their life.
However, there is no single source of truth to look to when deciding how to best raise them. You have to decide what kind of parent you are going to be. Over the years, there have been various theories that have emerged about what the best approach is. In general, those theories can be broken down into four categories.
On one hand, you have permissive parents: those that endeavor to give children a great deal of flexibility and leeway to discover the world around them. The other approach is neglectful parenting where parents give less and demand less.
Other 2 types of parents are more demanding: authoritative parents who have open communication with children and authoritarian where communication is more parent-driven.
This article will focus on authoritarian parents and children and look at the pros and cons of utilizing this type of parenting strategy.
What is authoritarian parenting?
To fully understand authoritarian parents and children, we first must define exactly what an authoritarian parent is. Authoritarian parents are exceptionally strict and believe that discipline is the best way to ensure that a child grows up to fulfill their potential.
There are three core components to authoritarian parenting. Each compliments the other and when taken together defines what an authoritarian parent is. Those components are:
Obedience – An authoritarian parent will demand that a child be obedient at all times. If they ask the child to go to bed 20 min earlier than they usually do, the child must do so without question. There is no room for questioning the parent. The child must only follow the directions that the parent gives them.
Discipline – An authoritarian parent will demand that their child show incredible discipline in everything that they do. There will be no room for distractions during tasks that the child is asked to do. With authoritarian parents and children, there is no room for dilly-dallying or fooling around. If the child is asked to mow the lawn, he or she must finish that task completely and satisfactorily before they are allowed to have any time for leisure.
Control – An authoritarian parent will schedule all aspects of the child’s life. They will have full control over everything, including when the child can have leisure time and what they can do during that less scheduled period. For example, the authoritarian parent may permit that the child read a book or play a sport, but not allow the playing of video games or hanging out with other children unsupervised.
What does punishment look like?
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of authoritarian parenting is how to handle punishment. Authoritarian parents believe in corporate punishment – lightly hitting a child – to correct undesirable behaviors. In some places this will be frowned upon and could even be considered illegal in certain jurisdictions.
However, other forms of punishment can take the place of striking a child under an authoritarian style. Yelling is a common way to make it clear that you are unhappy, as well as requiring the child to undertake a physical task (such as scrubbing a floor) as punishment for undesirable behavior.
What could go wrong with authoritarian parenting?
The biggest concern with authoritarian parenting and children is that the style does not allow parents to display a lot of warmth or love. Although you, as the parent, may feel love in your heart, some children may struggle to understand that and will only see the surface behaviors.
If the child does not believe that the parent loves them it is possible that they will rebel against them, even if only internally. Although they may do what is required of them during childhood, they will push away as soon as they are adults and cut off contact with the parent, once they are on their own as a young adult.
To prevent this, it is important that the authoritarian parent mix in some times of warmth and love and not only focus on being a disciplinarian.
Effects on children
So, what shows the researches regarding the parenting style and child’s future? Harsh control and authoritarian disciplinary tactics may be effective for short time, but it leads to long-term behavior problems. For instance, Martin Pinquart has analyzed more than 1400 studies. He concluded that authoritarianism is the biggest predictor of worsening behavior in child’s future.
In families where parents are strict and over-controlling children used to receive less warmth and affection. Therefore, in the future they mostly demonstrate cold and aggressive character and more likely engage in acts of bullying. Of course, there might be no correlation of misbehavior with authoritarian parents. However, many years of studies show possible effects of authoritarian parenting on children:
- Have lower self-esteem
- Poor emotional and mental resiliency
- Feel lower life satisfaction
- Tendency to display aggressive behavior
- Develop symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Demonstrate lower social competence
Following the rules, respecting parents and distinguishing the right things from wrong is indeed important. Nevertheless, experts consider authoritarian parenting style lacks unconditional love and warmth that are inevitable for children.
Does authoritarian parenting have benefits?
There are some positives that can come out with authoritarian parenting and children. We need to admit that children of authoritarian parents always follow the rules, they are well-behaved and disciplined. By learning to appreciate the value of discipline at a young age the child will often find a great deal of success in school and employment. Additionally, if to channel that discipline into a specific skill they had – i.e. music or sports – the child is far more likely to find a professional career in that area.
Children of authoritarian parents have a great deal of respect for rules and will rarely break them. They know that if they cross the boundaries something unpleasant might happen. Usually they stay away from risky situations in order to avoid outcomes of harmful action.
In addition, children raised in authoritarian family are more goal-driven than other children. Children who grasp the situation abide by the instructions in order to accomplish the task successfully. That can lead to a more productive and happy life.
Which parenting approach is right for me?
Only you can answer that. The key is looking at yourself and your child and determining whether it is the best approach to parenting, or whether a more permissive or hybrid model would be a better fit.
Acting depending on the situation, probably, better than clinging on one particular parenting style. To keep away your child from danger you have to be strict and demand following the rules. Or sometimes it is also good to allow your child to come back home with dirty clothes after having fun. Once you have settled on a style as long as you consistently apply it, with an underpinning of love, everything will probably work out.