Authoritarian Parenting: An Overview

Authoritarian parents believe in holding their children to a very high level of achievement and status. The desire for discipline is often so paramount in this relationship that the relationship, itself, is devoid or low on love, affection and nurturing. This is not to say that an authoritarian parent does not love her child but the child often does not perceive the love as being unconditional. Many children of authoritarian parents equate success with love.

One of the problems with authoritarian parenting is that children, when in need of guidance and problem-solving assistance, naturally turn to someone they feel loved and accepted by. This is often not the authoritarian parent. So while these parents often hold such high standards out of a desire to create high-achieving and successful adults out of their children, they often miss out on real opportunities for guidance when the child needs it most.

Authoritarian parents often confuse punishment for discipline. Discipline occurs from within, punishment occurs externally. Children raised with authoritarian-style parents are often very good at obeying authority but seldom have a strong sense of inner discipline as this is not something that is encouraged in childhood by authoritarian parents.

Likewise, the punishment style of authoritarian parents is often harsh and does not “match the crime”, so to speak. It isn’t uncommon for parents to use spanking as a primary means of punishment in an authoritarian family. One problem is that spanking used primarily for discipline leaves no other effective tools in one’s parenting tool belt. For parents who are desperate for control over their children, when spanking doesn’t work (and often, it will not), the relationship turns abusive, either physically or emotionally or both.

We know through time that authoritarian parenting does not work. Authoritarian parents are better off trying for a more balanced approach. Having expectations and limits is a healthy part of parenting but it becomes unhealthy if there isn’t also a balance of love and affection.

Are you an authoritarian parent?