9 Worst Authoritarian Parenting Examples & Effects to Avoid

sad young girl with blond hair holding a stuffed animal with bruises and a band aid over one eye authoritarian-parenting examples effects Middle Class Dad




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As parents, we hear a lot about the different types of parenting.

We see a lot of different kinds of parenting styles with our kid’s friend’s parents and at school. In some cases, we don’t see the parents a lot but we see the negative parenting effects on the kids our kids play with.

The right parenting styles help prepare our kids for the real world. They foster kindness, integrity, and honor. They make for a better generation than the ones that came before.

But as you’ll see in these authoritarian parenting examples, the wrong parenting style can do real long-term damage to our kids. When we are too domineering, too unbending and value compliance over love we can set our kids up for some real challenges later in life.

So in this post, we’re going to review the details of the authoritarian parenting style. But we’ll also review all the main styles and the key differences between authoritarian and authoritative.

What are the 4 types of parenting styles?

In truth in today’s world, there are more than 4 main parenting styles. But the 4 primary ones initially identified are:

  • Authoritarian
  • Authoritative
  • Permissive
  • Neglectful

I would add the following to that list:

  • Conscious Parenting
  • Attachment Parenting
  • Helicopter Parenting

Learn more about all 7 of those styles and the pros and cons of all of them in my post of Poor Parenting Examples.

Who came up with the 4 parenting styles?

Diana Baumrind was a noted parenting expert and psychologist whose work in the 1960’s and 1970’s was considered groundbreaking. She most famously noted 3 parenting styles initially:

  • Authoritarian
  • Authoritative
  • Permissive

Later the neglectful parenting style was split off from the permissive style.

Learn more about the crucial tips the Baumrind Parenting Styles can teach us.

What is the difference between authoritative and authoritarian parenting styles?

The authoritarian parenting examples feature a top-down, dictatorial command and control parenting style. Think drill sergeant or the Chris Cooper character of Frank Fitts in the movie American Beauty.

The authoritarian parenting examples trade love, kindness, compassion and empathy for blind obedience inspired by fear and punishment.

Authoritative parenting, by comparison, sets clear expectations. It also sets clear boundaries, guidelines, and consequences for poor behavior.

But where authoritative differs from authoritarian is that authoritative parents are explaining the why behind a request. They also know that everyone, including themselves, makes mistakes.

Thus while they do hold their kids accountable for their actions, they never lose sight of the love they have for their kids.




What do authoritarian parents do?

The authoritarian parenting examples include some or all of the following traits:

  1. Yelling to instill fear and obedience
  2. Physical punishment
  3. Severe consequences for disobedience and backtalk
  4. Using the phrase “because I said so”
  5. Not apologizing for their own behavior or mistakes

The child ultimately learns to fear their parent.

The net result from this is they learn to be mistrustful of authority specifically and others in general. Children of authoritarian parents still misbehave but they become skilled at covering their tracks and lying to hide the actions.

The long-term authoritarian parenting effects include damaged self-esteem and can foster issues with anger management.

What are the long-term authoritarian parenting effects on children?

  • Kids are less likely to feel socially acceptable (by other kids in their age range)
  • Children of authoritarian parents are more likely to bully others (because they were essentially bullied themselves)
  • Kids of authoritarian parents are less resourceful (since they are not encouraged to be free thinkers)
  • Children raised in an authoritarian home are more likely to suffer from depression
  • Kids tend to perform worse at school when raised by an authoritarian parent
  • The worst of the long-term authoritarian parenting effects may be that kids have a greater likelihood of abusing drugs and alcohol

Sources for the above claims include: National Institutes of Health in one study and again in another and another, the International Journal of School & Educational Psychology, The Universities of Temple and Wisconsin.


So let’s review the . . .

9 Worst Authoritarian Parenting Examples & Effects to Avoid



1. DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO

Many kids have heard this phrase over the years.

In many circles in decades past it was probably even thought of as appropriate or an example of good parenting. The trouble is when kids see you doing things you have told them not to do (using profanity, smoking, yelling, etc) it creates confusion.

Kids can smell a hypocrite a mile away.

They may fear you enough to not question you, but they won’t respect you. When kids don’t respect you, they will only obey you when you’re around. Parenting is for the long haul.

We’re trying to set our kids up for success for life and we won’t always be there.

2. BECAUSE I SAID SO

Many a grumpy Dad has uttered this phrase too.

In fact, this might be the most typical of the authoritarian parenting examples. The problem with this is it asks the child for blind obedience without helping them understand why it’s being asked.

I don’t know about you, but when I don’t understand why something is expected of me, I’m apt to question it. I’m certainly likely to not do it correctly if I don’t understand it. And I certainly am not likely to do it when the asker isn’t around.

So always take the time to explain the “why” behind the request.

It will help your kids fully understand and even if they don’t agree they’re much more likely to do it. And they’re much more likely to KEEP doing it. It also shows them that you respect them.

They, in turn, will respect you, making your ongoing parenting efforts a whole lot easier.

3. SPANKING & OTHER PUNITIVE PUNISHMENTS

When I was a kid, spanking was encouraged!

Even teachers used corporal punishment on misbehaving kids. Today, most circles of society border on considering that to be abuse.

What changed?

Our mindset as a society changed. We realized that if we replace love with fear when kids no longer love you but are simply afraid of you, they will only “behave correctly” in your presence.

I wonder how many kids who were regularly spanked or paddled said “yes, sir” to their Dad only to turn right around when he was gone and turn to drugs or alcohol or other risky behaviors?

Those are real authoritarian parenting effects that will last for years and take a lot of work to overcome.

Set clear boundaries and guidelines. Be firm, fair and consistent. Let your kids know and feel your love for them. But also hold them accountable in a loving way when they misbehave.

When you do that and are clear on why they are being held accountable, physical punishments become unnecessary.

4. MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY

Let’s be honest. Sometimes we just want our kids to do what we’re asking without question.

  • Clean your room!
  • Do your homework!
  • Brush your teeth!

But the reality is that our being tired or cranky doesn’t give us a pass on good parenting. In most cases, our way isn’t the only way of accomplishing a goal.

So when it makes sense, give your kids a goal. Give them a time frame to complete it in. But then step back and let them have the freedom to accomplish that goal however they wish to.

If they don’t meet the goal then there will be consequences for that and it’s a good learning experience for them. But if they do meet it, they’ll respect the fact that you trusted them with completing the task without being micromanaged.

5. SHAMING

Shaming is another cornerstone of the authoritarian parenting examples.

Make no mistake. Kids need to know when they have misbehaved. They need to be held accountable for their actions. But shaming them holds no place in good parenting.

When we shame our kids, we do incredible damage to their self-esteem.

So if your child gets a low grade or gets sent to the Principal’s office or otherwise does something they shouldn’t have done, it’s vital to communicate in an appropriate way.

Never belittle them or name call. Don’t criticize the behavior in front of their friends. Pull them aside, just as a good boss would with an employee and discuss the issue.

You can totally let them know you are disappointed in a way that doesn’t make them feel like a terrible kid. Criticize the action, not the person.

7. QUICK TO CRITICIZE, SLOW TO PRAISE

The authoritarian parent is quick to anger.

Children of authoritarian parents are the ones likely to try and photoshop a bad grade on a report card or hide something they damaged.

While holding kids accountable for bad behavior is incredibly important, they can’t only hear the negative.

So make sure to call out what they do right! Kids do great stuff every day, so make sure they know it.

8. LACKING EMPATHY & WARMTH

When parents choose an authoritarian approach it can often be rooted in one of two things:

  1. They were raised that way so it’s all they know
  2. They are unhappy in their own lives and allow their frustrations to guide their parenting style

Thus, authoritarian parenting examples inevitably include a parent who lacks happiness and joy. They aren’t warm and loving. They appear cold and the child may learn to obey them.

They may say “yes, sir” or “no, ma’am”, but they never really learn how to connect with another in a deeply loving way.

Thus as the kids get older, they will naturally struggle in relationships. They may be mistrusting of authority. And they will always struggle to connect with others in a meaningful way.

9. NOTHING IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH

Authoritarian parents are quick to criticize and nothing ever feels good enough.

Kids inherently want their parent’s approval, so don’t make them beg for it. It’s OK to have high standards, but don’t make them so ridiculously high that your child never meets it.

Talk about goals with your kids. Get them involved in the process of setting them. Empower them to want to meet and exceed those goals.

When you do that, you’re setting them up for success for life. And isn’t that what being a good parent is all about?


Did we cover everything you wanted to know about authoritarian parenting examples and the authoritarian parenting effects on kids?

In this post, we took a hard look at some of the worst authoritarian parenting examples.

We also looked at some of the other parenting styles and how they differ.  Lastly, we looked at the long-term authoritarian parenting effects and how the negative impact can damage our kids.

My goal with this post was to draw attention to some of the more damaging effects of bad parenting but mostly to get everything thinking and discussing.

You see none of us are perfect parents.

But by taking the time to educate ourselves and be just a little better tomorrow than we are today, that makes us great parents!

If you liked this post, I highly recommend you take a moment and review the 23 Qualities of a Good Father. It’s one of my most popular parenting posts.


Any tips, suggestions or questions about authoritarian parenting examples and the long-term authoritarian parenting effects on our kids?

If you like this post, please consider sharing on Facebook, because if it helped you, it just might help someone else!

 

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