While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to raising good children, the evidence says that parenting styles matter greatly in kids’ development. A parenting style can be good or bad, depending on how it shapes the interaction between you and your child. One particular parenting style called authoritarian parenting has gained much attention, but not for the right reasons.
Authoritarian parents are the strictest and tend to be the exact opposites of permissive parents. They have a long list of rules that children must abide by but do not expect opinions or feedback in return. But this is not to say they have ill intentions toward their children. In fact, the opposite is true, as they want their kids to be well-rounded, capable, civilized, and successful individuals.
But, as evident as it sounds, there are A LOT of drawbacks of authoritarian parenting. For example, children who must conform to a strict regimen often base their self-worth on whether or not they have obeyed instructions. As a result, their ability to make choices gets hindered, which affects their self-esteem significantly.
This blog post discusses the most significant downsides of authoritarian parenting. The purpose is to explain why it is not always the best idea to control every aspect of your kid’s life. We will also discuss alternative parenting styles that promote an environment of warmth and respect among parents and children, so read on.
What Are The Characteristics Of Authoritarian Parenting?
As a parent, you want your kids to socialize with the culture and values you have established in your household. And if you are an authoritarian parent, you may want to enforce rules in a way that might not necessarily resonate with your kids.
Some characteristics that make your parenting style exhibit authoritarian traits are as follows.
1. Showing little Warmth
You are most likely an authoritarian parent if you are inclined to become unfriendly and harsh toward your children over some matter as minute as being childishly careless for a moment. Your reaction may be an angry stare or a yell.
2. Shaming Instead Of Being Supportive
Making your children follow rules and norms through a process that considers their emotions will instill good morals. However, doing it through shaming or belittling will do more harm than good. This is because shaming makes your kids despise you, and they will show their emotions through a bad attitude.
3. Zero Tolerance for Misbehavior
Children can sometimes exhibit undesirable behavior, which is not something unusual. But authoritarian parents do not expect opposition even at this level. Also, they do not have the patience to explain why their children must not adopt certain behaviors.
4. Lack of Trust in Children
Children must be taught to make good choices in their lives. And once they learn that, they should be trusted to go ahead and choose what they deem right. Sure, their actions must not go unchecked, and they must be gently guided through the process.
However, this can be too much to ask from authoritarian parents.
Instead of letting them make choices and face consequences, authoritarian parents tend to hover around and ensure their kids do not make mistakes.
5. Not Ready To Negotiate
For authoritarian parents, there are no gray areas. They view situations as black and white, and they do not find themselves ready to compromise. So when making decisions or defining rules, they do not expect their kids to have a say in the process.
The Downsides of Authoritarian Parenting
As stated above, authoritarian parents are strict guardians who do not believe in compromising or discussion. They expect their kids to follow their rules without expressing their opinion.
While rules and boundaries are necessary means of teaching your children ethical values and making them morally responsible, being harsh and inflexible can be counterproductive.
Here are the top downsides of authoritarian parenting.
1. Impact on Child Development
Evidence suggests that authoritarian parenting can have a less desirable or even negative impact on a child’s overall development. Shaming, harsh punishments, and threats can lead to long-term behavioral problems in kids. When they grow up, they are more likely to show anti-social, aggressive, and defiant behaviors.
Authoritarian parenting can also cause physical health problems in children. Children reared in authoritarian familial structures usually suffer from higher levels of depression, which causes anxiety, restlessness, inability to control emotions, and upset stomach. These changes affect a child’s health adversely.
2. Increased Risk of Anxiety and Depression
Authoritarian parents do not respond well to their children’s requirements or needs. Their harsh and non-nurturing attitude invokes feelings of instability and insecurity in children, affecting their mental health at a very young age.
So when the children of authoritarian parents grow up, they are more likely to have anxiety, depression, and other mental issues than children raised by permissive or authoritative parents.
3. Poor Self-Esteem and Low Self-Worth
Authoritarian parenting is characterized by rigidness, demand, control, and an attitude that denies the children’s right to express opinions. While authoritarian parents carry out all this to ensure the safety and well-being of their kids, they forget or care little about its impact on children’s emotional and mental health. According to studies, children brought up in such an environment lack self-confidence and have increased inferiority and insecurity.
4. Difficulty with Moral Reasoning
Authoritarian parenting develops blind obedience, which makes them submit to authority. This tiger parenting style doesn’t encourage children to question. As a result, they are likely to perform a task regardless of whether or not it is ethically right.
Hence, children met with negative reinforcement without a solid reason are at a high risk of developing socially irresponsible behavior.
5. Potential for rebellion and resentment
Experts have found that children brought up in authoritarian families can develop problematic and rebellious behavior. This behavior is the outcome of more than necessary power exercised on them during their upbringing. The children who develop anger and aggression due to being overly administrated may refuse to accept all guidance.
Why Is Control Not Always Best?
Many parents who are suggested to exercise a balance between controlling and being overly permissive get confused about when it is appropriate to control and when it is not. The more appropriate way in this regard is to provide children with a structure instead of administrating them.
Controlling involves active supervision and tiger parenting, while structuring does include setting rules and limits and helping children know expectations and consequences. Controlling promotes dependence, while structured parenting is a way to help children become autonomous.
But how is this possible?
Well, first and foremost, you have to listen to your children. And for that, you must ask them questions and view life from their perspective. This encourages a healthy discussion that fosters warmth between you and your children.
When children’s questions are answered and they are provided with reasons for instructions, they are more likely to develop a sense to distinguish between wrong and right. Providing your children with warmth, support, and guidance goes a long way toward their overall well-being, as they become more self-directed, socially responsible, respectful yet resilient.
Alternatives to Authoritarian Parenting
With all the drawbacks and ill effects, it is evident that the authoritarian parenting style is not the right to nurture kids. Sadly, many parents are familiar only with coercive control because they themselves have been brought up this way.
So, is it possible for individuals raised by authoritarian parents to go with easy-going parenting styles when they have children? Or can authoritarian parents rethink their parenting styles and become more supportive of their kids? The answer to both these questions is YES. You have to choose an alternate parenting style.
The two alternatives to authoritarian parenting are as follows:
- Permissive parenting
- Authoritative parenting
Let’s explain both these briefly.
Permissive parents are more on the friendly side rather than the parenting side. They do not like to have conflicts and are always ready to respond to distress calls. However, they do not provide much guidance or direction and usually allow children to do whatever pleases them.
The most common attributes of permissive parenting include the following:
- Open communication with children and letting them decide on their own
- Little to no enforcement of rules and expectations
- Quick responsiveness but with no demands
- More inclination towards children’s happiness regardless of whatever it costs
Authoritative parents believe in proper nurturing and support and keep children’s requirements in consideration. They discuss things openly with their children to provide them with pertinent reasons why they want what they want. Rather than administrating, they teach children to be self-directed and capable of thinking for the betterment of themselves.
The most common characteristics of authoritative parenting include the following:
- Open communication with children and listening to their concerns and feelings
- Setting expectations and practicing flexibility when enforcing rules
- Quick responsiveness but demanding children to be equally responsive
- Allowing children to experience the consequences of their actions and helping them learn from those experiences
Summing up everything, many parents consider authoritarian parenting an effective way to discipline their kids and make them well-rounded, good individuals. But, as evidence suggests, controlling can do more harm than good, as it can undermine a child’s mental health and the ability to socialize. As a result, they become more reliant with little to no willingness to prosper on their own.
Therefore, parents must choose parenting styles that promote proper warmth, support, and nurturing. But instead of becoming overly permissive, it is better to provide your children with structured fostering. As parents, you want your children to follow rules and guidelines to learn ethical values. And for that, it is necessary to maintain effective rule enforcement with a negotiating attitude. This will promote healthy development and mental well-being and help children become self-directed, contributing individuals.