What is Authoritarian Parenting?

Authoritarian parenting is a harsh style of parenting which is generally characterized by high expectations and less nurturance. The parents who have an authoritarian style of parenting often expect their children to perform exceptionally but do not help them through nurturance or positive feedback. When they do give feedback, it is through negative means like yelling as well as physical punishment.

Authoritarian parenting became recognized in the ’60s when a psychologist named Diana Baumring found three kinds of parenting styles when she conducted a research on children who were aged between three to four years. She found out about four major kinds of parenting, and authoritarian parenting was one of them. This kind of parenting can be identified by parents having very high expectations from their children and them setting rules for the children to follow that are unconditional as well as strict. Baumrind identifies these kinds of parents as status oriented and demanding obedience from their children without providing any kind of explanation for their orders.

Characteristics of Authoritarian Parents

Authoritarian parents can be identified through the following characteristics:

  1. They tend to be demanding but not responsive toward their children. Authoritarian parents set up a lot of rules for their children to follow. They often tend to micromanage every aspect of the child’s life and behavior. Some rules are not explicitly told to the children but the parents expect the children to know them anyway.
  2. The parents do not provide their children warmth or nurturing of any kind. They are very cold towards their children and stay aloof and harsh. Authoritarian parents would rather yell or nag at their children than praise their work or offer any kind of encouragement.
  3. The punishments that authoritarian parents give to their children are often given without any kind of explanation. Authoritarian parents often resort to physical means of punishment and do not try to explain their children using positive means when they break rules.

Effects Of Authoritarian Parenting

Different styles of parenting have been shown to have a variety of effects on children. Some of these effects include social skills of the children as well as their performance in studies. Authoritarian Parenting has its own effects, it affects the children in a negative manner. Here are some of the effects of authoritarian parenting:-

  1. The children associate obedience and their academic performance with love
  2. Children who are parented through authoritarian methods tend to be aggressive and display their aggression outside the home where they are not bound by rules.
  3. Some children tend to be fearful and extremely shy around people outside of their home.
  4. Authoritarian parenting reduces the self-esteem of the children
  5. The children face difficulties in situations which require social competence as they do not have the social, emotional, cognitive as well as behavioral skills that are needed for social adaptation.
  6. The children may suffer from depression and anxiety in the future.
  7. The children do not have self-control as they are not making choices early in life and they are used to suffer natural consequences of their actions.

Authoritarian Parenting Compared with Other Kinds of Parenting

Now we know what is authoritarian parenting and it effects the children, but, how does it compare to the other types of parenting.

Authoritarian Parenting vs Authoritative Parenting

Authoritative parenting is often mistaken for authoritarian parenting but the reality is quite different. Authoritative parents participate actively in children’s lives and maintain a positive relationship with them. Authoritative parents also explain the reasons behind the rules they set for their children, unlike authoritarian parents. They do have expectations from their children like authoritarian parents but they also take their children’s feelings into consideration while enforcing their rules.

Authoritarian Parenting vs Helicopter Parenting

Helicopter parenting is a term used by teens who say that their parents hover over them like a helicopter. It refers to the type of parents who are over-focused on their children. They are very involved in their children’s lives, as well as overprotective and over controlling. This is somewhat different from authoritarian parenting as authoritarian parents have high expectations for their children. They are status-oriented and expect their children to follow what they say without any complaints. They are very strict, demanding, don’t express warmth and aren’t very nurturing, utilize punishments with little or no explanation, and don’t give their children very much options.

Recovering From Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian parenting is not a helpful way to parent your children. Children who are products of authoritarian style of parenting face the effects of such kind of parenting later in their lives. They are unable to take decisions themselves as their parents have never given them the freedom to do so in the early stages of their life.

If you are someone who grew up with an authoritarian style of parenting or parents who were hurtful, you should, first of all, make it clear to yourself that all of that was not your fault. The second thing that you must keep in mind is that you have to do the healing process without involving your parents. You are able to get over your childhood without making your parents change in the future but by growing yourself personally by working on yourself.

To recover from authoritarian parenting in the later stages of your life you have to replace the habits that are put into you by your authoritarian parents by better ones. To do this, you have to replace your internalized parents and the patterns that they make you follow by you becoming the new parent of your life. You should not listen to what your internalized parents say in your mind and construct better parents to replace them. You should become independent, help your roommates or partner by thinking about them, even small things doing the dishes in the dishwasher or cooking for them are small steps to recover from the effects of this type of parenting.

All of this means that you have to take control of your life and not live in the past where your parents made you do things without proper reasoning. You no longer have to get permission from the internalized parents and get permission from a better parent that is you yourself.


Authoritarian parenting is a style of parenting where the parents have high expectations of their children and set rules without giving a thought to the child. The children who experience an authoritarian style of parenting grow up to become emotionally dependent and repressive. To recover from an authoritarian style of parenting in the later years, people should replace their internalized parents with better parents. The better parents are they themselves.