Authoritarian Parenting – How It Effects You & Your Child

Authoritarian Parenting

When a child is born, he does not understand how he should behave. Discipline and manners are unfamiliar terms to him. It is the right parenting and upbringing that shapes the character of a child. The type of parenting plays a vital role and being an authoritarian parent can affect your kid in a variety of ways.


What is Authoritarian Style of Parenting?

Also termed as autocratic parenting, this turns a family into more of a ruling empire where kids need to adhere to the wishes of the parent. Authoritarian parents demand a lot from their kids and make their high expectations clear. But that is rarely complemented with support, guidance, or feedback and instead met with constant disapproval or negative comments about the child’s behaviour.


What Are the Characteristics of Authoritarian Parents?

Here are some of the characteristics that authoritarian parents exhibit.

1. Adhering to the Rules and Expectations in the Strict Manner

Such parents want their kids to grow exactly the way they want. Asking questions is termed as an aberration and devaluing the authority of the parent. Such parents believe that only they know the right way to raise their child and the child has no say in the matter. Any enjoyment and fun are unwelcome and life becomes similar to living under a dictatorial regime where anything the parents say is no different from an order.

2. Delivering Punishment for Mistakes or Breaking of Rules

Any mistake that is committed or any boundary that is crossed results in the child being punished severely. The child is not allowed to voice his side of the argument since that is considered irrelevant by the parents. The result is all that matters, and a child is punished if he commits any mistake.

3. Not Responding to a Child’s Questions or Requests

The only thing a child is supposed to do is adhere to what’s asked of him and expected of him, without fail. Any other conversations are deemed irrelevant and are not met with an acknowledgement. Even when the child successfully manages to adhere to all the expectations, the feedback would still be of expecting a lot more the next time, without any praise or acknowledgement of the present achievement.

4. Emotionally Disconnected from a Child’s Core Love

Authoritarian parents view raising a child in the same way as a ringmaster would view taming a wild animal. There is no emotional attachment of any sorts and all that parents focus on is making sure that the child listens to their orders and becomes successful. The lack of expressing any emotions or forming deep bonds of trust and care are thrown out of the window. The emotional needs are ignored and the behaviour is controlled by the promise of love that is rarely shown.

5. The Absence of Any Semblance of Choice or Voice of the Child

There are no avenues given for the children in exercising their opinion or choice, even in as simple matters as choosing which toy they would like, or what they would like to eat. Parents look down upon the child as an inferior entity who is yet to match up to a level they have established for him. The child is simply supposed to tag along and fall in line with whatever is asked of him or presented to him.

Effects of Authoritarian Parenting on Kids

The authoritarian style of parenting affects kids in different ways. It can impact them mentally, emotionally, and socially. Know in detail the impact of authoritarian parenting on kids:

Existential Effects

  • Most children who grow up under the authoritarian style of parenting suffer from low self-esteem and inferiority issues. Since their opinions are never valued or acknowledged at home, they begin to feel that the same applies to the outside world, too.
  • The transactional nature of the authoritarian style of parenting is where their worth is acknowledged only when they have satisfied some expectations or behaved in a certain manner. When the kids fail to do so, it begins to reflect on themselves that they possibly are not good enough and will result in a manic need to be perfect.
  • If someone tries showing them affection or tries to be a friend to them, they will constantly feel that these people have a hidden agenda and expect something out of me. This will cause them to not make relationships easily or place a value tag on each relationship.
  • Since authoritarian parents disable the possibility of choice and opinions early in life, such kids fail to recognize their own needs or gut feelings of what they want to do or what they like. Exercising their own will or listening to that inner voice is a phenomenon rarely known by such kids.
  • They do not understand how to take responsibility in their own hands and lead it successfully. Such kids end up loving the hierarchical authority based institutions and systems, where following orders strictly satisfies them and they feel they will be safe and accepted.
  • Such acceptance of authoritarian systems leads to kids become submissive in nature. They will fear trying out new things or experiment with newer techniques, and instead, prefer to remain in the comfort zone of rigidity and rules.

Mental Effects

  • Since their behaviour is either rewarded or punished, most kids grow up believing in a black and white nature of the world. They fail to see the complexities and confusion present in nature and in people.
  • Due to a narrow outlook towards life, such kids rarely have their own thought processes or philosophies of living their lives. They simply stick to what they have been taught and resort to living life traditionally without making space for any new views and opinions to exist.
    A girl crying

Emotional Effects

  • Since showing any strong emotions has met with dire consequences, such kids exist in denial and bottle up their feelings inside without displaying them. They tend to present a trouble-free emotionally dead superficial personality.
  • Being taught that having such emotions is a bad thing, they begin viewing themselves as an evil person and might unleash their frustrations outwards in anger, or implode inwards and result in depression.
  • This causes problems in building emotionally intimate relationships later in life since they view everything as a transaction and having a hidden plan.
  • These kids are constantly worried about their own behaviour and live in a perpetual stress of being correct all the time. They feel like an invisible eye is watching their every move and are extremely critical of themselves.
  • This extreme self-criticism then begins to manifest within themselves as shame and guilt. If they do end up being punished, they concur that they are inherently bad and there is no saving grace.

Social Effects

  • Kids with authoritarian parenting fail to develop good friendships or long-lasting intimate relationships. They view everything based on value and what they can get from the other person.
  • They begin to view power, and especially physical power, as the ultimate tool of success. Display of power over the weak helps them feel good about themselves.
  • They thrive in hierarchical behaviour and try to emulate it within their own families since that is the only way they know how to function in a social context.
  • On the opposite spectrum, such kids might find breaking the norm as an excitement and find themselves to be attached with antisocial elements who buck the norm and live their lives by disrespecting any kind of authority.
  • These kids consequently end up having a higher chance of being susceptible to drug abuse and being involved in juvenile crimes.

How Does it Affect the Parents?

Most parents act and behave in the same way as their own parents behaved with them. It is a vicious cycle that keeps passing down from generation to generation. In certain cases, certain kids may grow up realize how bad such a parenting style is, and instead, raise their own kids the right way.

Authoritative Vs Authoritarian Parenting Style

They might sound the same but are extremely different from each other. Authoritarian parents make use of strict rules and break down the very individuality of the child in an effort to raise him up.

Authoritative parents are strict as well but they complement it with true love. Their rules and expectations are not rigid and are flexible to suit the child’s behaviour. Even when they know they are right, they will still allow the child to voice his side of the argument and then explain why it isn’t correct. Punishment is administered but in a way that teaches the child rather than making them suffer for it.

A mother disciplining her child

Is Authoritarian Discipline the Best Way to Raise Children?

A large number of studies disagree with this style of parenting. Although parents subjectively might feel their kid be growing up the right way, in a wider social context and a longer individual one, the kid ends up being disturbed and results in problems later in life.

Tips to Change Your Style of Parenting

Authoritarian parenting style does no good for children. Kids end up being sad and afraid. Hence, parents should adopt a parenting style by which kids feel secure and not afraid to share any problem. If you follow the authoritarian style of parenting, here are some tips to change your style of parenting and raise your kids with love.

  1. Don’t immediately become a loving parent right from day one. Your child will be caught unaware and distrust you further. Bring about the change gradually.
  2. Be patient with your child when he makes a mistake. If you see your own anger rising, take a break and come back to the matter at hand later.
  3. Start listening to your child. Encourage him to talk to you slowly. He might not be used to it and will take some time to be able to tell you things and trust you with them.
  4. Let your child make mistakes. Instead of making him feel guilty, ask him why he thinks the mistake happened. Work with him in letting him learn how to avoid it from happening again. Give him a hug and let him know you trust him.
  5. Don’t be a serious parent. Keep a balance of firmness along with friendliness for your child. More of a figure that guides and has fun along as well.

Parenting kids the right way is no doubt a challenge, and kids do need to be disciplined from time to time. But doing that in the right way is a lot more important than just getting it done. Children grow up just the way their parents shape them to be, and with the right parenting, they will end up making you proud and they, too, will be proud to have parents like you.