By: S. Hall and Annie Burch
Psychology professionals, pioneered by Diana Baumrind, generally recognize four parenting styles. They are: permissive, authoritative, rejecting-neglecting, and
authoritarian (Siegler et al, 2011). Parenting styles are defined by Siegler (2011) as “parenting behaviors and attitudes that set the emotional climate in regard to parent-child interactions, such as parental responsiveness and demandingness” (469). Permissive parents are high in responsiveness and low in demandingness. Authoritative parents are high in responsiveness and demandingness. Rejecting-neglecting parents are low in
responsiveness and demandingness. Authoritarian parents are low in
responsiveness and high in demandingness. This article will focus on
authoritarian parents and will offer a definition of this parenting style,
examples of what authoritarian parents look like, how authoritarian parenting
effects the children of these type of parents, and some do’s and don’ts of
parenting in general.
Authoritarian parenting, as aforementioned, is characterized by parents high in demandingness but low in responsiveness (Siegler et al, 2011). Demandingness is how much a parent expects of his/her child and, further, how much control they employ to
ensure the meeting of their expectations. Therefore, parents high in
demandingness set extremely lofty, often unattainable, goals for their
children. They also are immensely controlling and not liable to budge from
their demands. Responsiveness is how much a parent reacts and molds his/her
action in reaction to his/her child’s needs. Parents low in responsiveness are
likely not supportive, warm, or easily accepting to changes in their children’s
behavior. They will not mold their reactions whatsoever, no matter the
circumstances that may have caused deviations in their child’s behavior.
Authoritarian parents downplay the importance of nurture and rely heavily on
learning via discipline (Miller, Lambert, & Neumiester, 2012). They punish their
children harshly through the exercise of parental power, specifically threats
(Miller, Lambert, & Neumiester, 2012; Siegler et al, 2011). Altogether, authoritarian parents generally expect extraordinarily high successes from their children but provide little support in getting them to that success.
What Does Authoritarian Parenting Look Like?
These scenarios describe different parenting dilemmas you may face as a parent.
Decide how you would act in each situation and then read about what an Authoritarian
parent would do and why.
Your child, Bobby, has a very messy room so you ask him to clean it. When you check his room you find that everything is put away except that instead of folding his clothes and putting them in his drawers he has put them all on a shelf in his closet. How do you
In this scenario an Authoritarian parent would punish or yell at Bobby for not cleaning
his room but would not explain what about the room was not clean. It is
characteristic of Authoritarian parents to punish with little or no
explanation. This follows the black and white approach that these parents take,
where something is either right or wrong and there is generally no room for
reasoning as to why something happened the way it did. Punishing Bobby in this
scenario also demonstrates the strict and sometimes extreme rules and
expectations that Authoritarian parents often have. To many parents the room
would have been considered pretty clean, but to the Authoritarian parent unless
every little bit of the room is clean then the job was not done.
Bobby is learning his times tables and is administered weekly quizzes in school to test speed and accuracy. You have always expected good grades from him but on the first quiz he gets a C. What do you do?
In this situation an Authoritarian parent would at first punish or yell at Bobby for
getting a bad grade, following the model of strict punishments. Then, the
parent would tell Bobby that he is expected to get A’s on all of these quizzes
and that he will study however much is necessary to get those grades. Bobby
would never be comforted and nurtured after receiving the poor grade and his
feelings would not be taken into account. He would have no say in his study
plan and he will not be encouraged and supported as he progresses. Even once he
is getting all A’s on his quizzes he will never be praised. This show the
strictness of the high demands and limitations on choices and the low
responsiveness and nurturing of the Authoritarian parent.
Effects on Children
Many people believe that the best parenting style depends on the child. A tough
child might need stricter parenting such as Authoritarian parenting, while a
very obedient child might allow for more relaxed parenting like Authoritative
parenting. While parenting styles may differ, certain parenting styles do have
certain effects on children regardless of that child’s characteristics. The
many negative effects that Authoritarian parenting has on children is one of
the main reasons it is considered a poor method of parenting. Children of
Authoritarian parents “tend to be relatively low in social and academic
competence, unhappy and unfriendly, and low in self-confidence” (Baumrind,
1991b, 470). They are also more prone to “depression, delinquency, and alcohol
problems” (Driscoll et al., 2008, 470) as well as negative experiences as
school and ineffective coping mechanisms (Zhou et al., 2008, 470). These
negative impacts can be a result of the control and demandingness of these
parents, and also the use of psychological control which is common for
Authoritarian parenting. Overall, it is clear that the traits of Authoritarian
parenting can lead to negative emotional, psychological, social, and academic
impacts on children. These effects demonstrate the downside of Authoritarian
The 3 Do’s of Parenting:
1. Be consistent:
Be open and clear with your child about your absolute-no-budge rules, then enforce
these rules ALL the time (Stöppler, 2012). If there are certain rules that you
are open to discussion about, make it clear that disobeying these rules without
first conversing together and being allowed reprisal will be considered a
breach of the rules and will be punished accordingly. For instance, if you are
open to allowing your teenager a later curfew under certain circumstances, make
it a set rule that any deviation from a set curfew be first discussed and a new
curfew denoted before a later curfew is allowed.
2. Allow your child independence:
Setting limits for your child is only half the battle, to be a functional member of
society your child will also need to know how to control themselves and set
their own limits. Creating an open and accepting environment within your
household will help facilitate your child’s creativity, which will help grow
their independence (Lim & Smith, 2008).
3. Be involved:
Being involved in your child’s life is pivotal to their success later in life. If you
are involved in your child’s life you are more likely to know the situations
they face on a daily basis and how they handle them. This knowledge will help
you in making informed decisions about the rules you set, the leniencies you
allow, and your overall parenting method in general. It is important to note
that you can never love your children too much. There is a large difference
between loving your child and spoiling your child – spoiling your child is
giving them something (new clothes, relaxed rules, etc) in place of love
“What Is Authoritarian Parenting?.” About.com. N.p., n.d.
Web. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://psychology.about.com/od/childcare/f/authoritarian-parenting.htm>.
Lim, S., & Smith, J. (2008). The Structural
Relationships Of Parenting Style, Creative Personality, And Loneliness. Creativity
Research Journal, 20(4), 412-419.
Miller, A. L., Lambert, A. D.,
& Neumiester, K. L. (2012). Parenting Style, Perfectionism, and Creativity
in High-Ability and High-Achieving Young Adults. Journal for the Education
of the Gifted, 35(4), 344-365.
Siegler, R. S., DeLoache, J. S.,
Eisenberg, N., & Leaper, C. (2011). The Family. How children develop
(3rd ed., pp. 469-471). New York, NY: Worth Publishers.
Stöppler, M. (2012, January 30).
What are the 10 principles of good parenting?. MedicineNet. Retrieved
November 30, 2013, from http://www.medicinenet.com/parenting/page2.htm