There are several methods of parenting that have developed over the years, but authoritarian parenting tends to be one of the most common methods. In this style of parenting, a stern, strict approach is generally the approach taken. This means there is a demand to follow the rules of the house or suffer the consequences if those rules are broken. There are some advantages to following this style of parenting, but certain disadvantages make themselves apparent as well.
If you’re thinking about what parenting style might be right for you, then here are the key pros and cons of authoritarian parenting to consider.
The Pros of Authoritarian Parenting
1. Children are generally well-behaved from authoritarian households.
Authoritarian parents develop a clear sense of what is right and what is wrong. Instead of shades of gray being introduced, there is a clear line drawn in the sand. If that line gets crossed, a consequence is expected. This trains children to learn that rules are in place for a reason and if that line gets crossed, something “bad” is going to happen, so good behavior tends to be the result.
2. It creates an environment that is focused on safety.
No one likes to see their children hurt. That’s true of every parenting style. What authoritarian parenting does is place a focus on safety within the context of the rules. This helps to protect children from making potentially harmful decisions while showing them that there is a right and wrong path to take every time a choice can be made. In essence, there are definitions of “good” and of “bad” in every situation.
3. There are always clear goals in place to be achieved.
Structure is very important in authoritarian households. Parents using this structure often see their job as a type of business. To create success, just like any good entrepreneur, they create plans that have step-by-step instructions to be followed. When their kids follow each step, they come closer to the goals that have been put into place. This makes it easier to know what needs to be done and it reduces the chances of a mistake being made.
4. It creates a sense of responsibility.
When there are limits in place, the joys that are experienced become treasured commodities. Kids from this type of household may have limitations in certain areas of development, but most don’t ever think that committing a crime or doing something “wrong” is something that would be fun to do. They’re so accustomed to following the rules and basing their definition of character on this action that it becomes transposed to their adult life. Precision and order rule the day every day.
5. Clarity happens 100% of the time.
There is no discussion or debate with authoritarian parenting. There is one defined method of accomplishing everything that is made clear to every member of the family. Confusion doesn’t happen because every expectation is set forth before any action is taken. This helps the family unit become a well-oiled machine that can be very effective at the work that needs to be done and efficient with their time.
6. There is always a desire to make things right.
Authoritarian parents understand that mistakes are going to happen. When failure does occur, these parents teach their children that it is important to make amends for those mistakes. Although this can be taken to unhealthy levels through long periods of studying and testing for educational mistakes, the point of emphasis on making amends is a good thing.
The Cons of Authoritarian Parenting
1. A reliance on the rules often develops.
Kids who are forced to recognize that there’s a line in the sand all the time begin to rely on this line to define their own choices and behaviors. Unfortunately not every situation may have a clear right or wrong answer. This is especially true in academics. For this reason, children who have authoritarian parents tend to rely on the rules to meet all of their needs and if those rules cannot exist, they do not learn as effectively as other kids.
2. It creates lower levels of self-esteem.
Kids who have authoritarian parents tend to see themselves in a good or bad way based on how often they follow the rules. Their self-esteem becomes based on whether or not their parents approve of each choice and how it relates to the rules. Instead of independent thought and choice creating success that can build self-esteem, there is a reliance on others to build self-worth. The end result is poor social skills and difficult adjustment periods to new environments.
3. It creates the foundation for rebellion.
Kids that are dealing with authoritarian parents often want to see first-hand if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Sometimes older children feel a need to break the rules just to see what will happen. It is often done on purpose as a way to rebel against the parents. In return, this can have a negative impact on the parent/child relationship which could have years of fallout happening afterward.
4. There is no flexibility in any situation.
Authoritarian parenting does not allow for alternatives should the line in the sand be crossed. Communication about the violation happens individually or through family meetings about expectations and why they must be followed. This often creates a relationship where bonding between kids and parents is difficult to achieve because if there is a conflict, it is always “my way or the highway.”
5. It encourages introverted behaviors from children who may be extroverted.
Some children may cross the line in the sand set for them constantly, sometimes without ever realizing there was a line in the sand in the first place. When this happens and consequences occur, it creates a certain attitude of timidity that causes children to hesitate or become inactive later on in life. At the very least, it encourages an introverted method of thinking because sharing isn’t caring – it’s how trouble can happen.
6. It could teach children that being a bully is just fine.
Parents often must resort to bullying within an authoritarian parenting relationship to get tasks completed. Instead of encouraging good choices, they are expected. This means negative feedback is typically the only thing that the children in a household like this receive. That negativity becomes the normal environment for these kids and that’s what they take to school with them.
The pros and cons of authoritarian parenting show that it can be beneficial, but requires a certain level of flexibility. By building rules that allow for variable options if that line in the sand gets crossed, more independence and self-reliance can be achieved to offset the potential negatives of this parenting style.