Authoritarian Parenting Style: Characteristics and Possible Effects on Children

Children who grow up under an authoritarian parenting style may develop insecurity and have problems with managing their emotions. Learn more in this article.
Authoritarian Parenting Style: Characteristics and Possible Effects on Children

Written by Ana Núñez

Last update: 25 May, 2022

The family is the first area of influence in the formation of children. The father and mother will transmit values, principles, traditions, guidelines, and roles in a complex system in which grandparents, uncles, aunts, uncles, and many others participate. However, assuming an authoritarian or permissive parenting style has advantages and disadvantages that are worth knowing.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the main characteristics of the authoritarian parenting style. Some preconceived ideas may make us believe that when it comes to parenting, we’re supposed to be in control. However, perhaps the most important thing is to know when to be emotionally close and allow our children to make their own decisions. 

What is the authoritarian parenting style?

Parenting involves certain attitudes and behaviors on behalf of parents for children to achieve certain behaviors.

The authoritarian parenting style can be reciprocal or repressive. The former is based on establishing consensual limits; the latter controls using repression, punishment, and even violence. Overall, it’s a very rigid and uni-directional style of parenting. There are rules or procedures that are offered without discussion.

This style often features an attitude prone to irritation and severity in parents. It’s also reflected in people who always appear to need control. Under this parenting style, the entire family as a whole is subject to the pressure of lurking dissatisfaction.

Overall, it’s characterized by the following:

  • Parents establish rigid rules of conduct.
  • They show little affection or no affection towards their children.
  • They don’t present options, or only present those that are already approved by them in advance.
  • These parents obsessively punish and reprimand abnormal behavior or bad behavior.
Padre severo con su hija.
Authoritarian parenting often focuses on what the child is doing wrong, as seen by the parents.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the authoritative parenting style?

In a society based on competition and with a tendency to relax values and traditions, a non-repressive authoritarian style is an alternative.

It offers certain benefits by providing children with firmness and temperance in facing uncertainty and challenges.

Another advantage derives from its little emotional capacity, which leads to flat, cold, and opportunistic relationships in a society that has virtualized and even trivialized personalities and roles. Seen in this way, an authoritarian parenting style can contribute certain positive elements in our fast-paced, impersonal society.

However, many of its disadvantages come from lack of communication and lack of expression of feelings. It also tends to create insecurity and takes the initiative away from children. Therefore, they often feel pressured by the possibility of making a mistake.

Those who grew up with authoritarian parents are often reserved, have low self-esteem, and have difficulty setting goals for themselves. They tend to be obedient in the presence of authority. Without it, they’re inclined to make mistakes.

In general, they obey submissively and are overly afraid of making mistakes in the face of trials. In this sense, both these parents and their children may be only hiding the fear of failure deep down.

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The consequences of overly authoritative parenting

Overall, children raised with reciprocal and reasoned authority obey responsibly. They develop self-control and discipline. Authority is exercised by example. In fact, with healthy levels of authority, parents present themselves as role models.

Healthy authority consists of mutual respect. However, its misrepresentation is authoritarianism. If parents use their authority well, they reveal themselves to be strong, capable, and worthy of trust.

However, if they use their authority poorly, they’re simply exercising their power over their children. This is very unhealthy authoritarian parenting.

It’s up to parents to exercise their control to enable and fostere their children’s unique potential – not to control them.  

Padre es un modelo para su hijo.
When parents present themselves as models for their children, a different and more powerful form of respect grows between them.

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Suggestions to improve your parenting style

We all want our children to learn to resolve conflicts, know how to manage their emotions, and have the skills to relate and adapt to different situations. That said, being authoritarian or permissive contributes or restricts children in different ways.

The most damaging part of the authoritarian parenting style is punishment. With this practice, parents try to correct conduct and behavior without offering space for consensus. Often, the result is a spiral of silence and violence that makes things worse. Also, it will soon return like a boomerang.

On the contrary, communication, support, and affection are the foundation of a parenting style that respects the personalities and integrity of children. Ultimately, the challenge for parents is to help their children become independent. That way, they can solve life’s challenges on their own.

Parenting is a school, and we learn from mistakes. From a straightforward authoritarian style, it’s possible to arrive at one that is based on understanding, dialogue, and agreement with awareness and reflection.

If there are clear rules that everyone complies with, there’s less risk of serious breaches. On the other hand, if behaviors and attitudes are observed with affection, children can learn and grow in a healthy way.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.