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What Is Authoritarian Parenting?

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Question: What Is Authoritarian Parenting?

Answer:

During the 1960s, developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind described three different types of parenting styles based on her researcher with preschool-age children. One of the main parenting styles identified by Baumrind is known as the authoritarian parenting style.

Authoritarian parents have high expectations of their children and have very strict rules that they expect to be followed unconditionally. According to Baumrind, these parents "are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation." People with this parenting style often utilize punishment rather than discipline, but are not willing or able to explain the reasoning behind their rules.

Characteristics of the Authoritarian Parenting Style

Authoritarian parents:

  • Have strict rules and expectations.

  • Very demanding, but not responsive.
  • Don't express much warmth or nurturing.

  • Utilize punishments with little or no explanation.

  • Don't give children choices or options.

The Effects of Authoritarian Parenting

Parenting styles have been associated with a variety of child outcomes including social skills and academic performance.

The children of authoritarian parents:

  • Tend to associate obedience and success with love.

  • Some children display more aggressive behavior outside the home.

  • Others may act fearful or overly shy around others.

  • Often have lower self-esteem.

  • Have difficulty in social situations.

Understanding Authoritarian Parenting

Because authoritarian parents expect absolute obedience, children raised in such settings are typically very good at following rules. However, they may lack self-discipline. Unlike children raised by authoritative parents, children raised by authoritarian parents are not encouraged to explore and act independently, so they never really learn how to set their own limits and personal standards.

While developmental experts agree that rules and boundaries are important for children to have, most believe that authoritarian parenting is too punitive and lacks the warmth, unconditional love and nurturing that children need.

References

Baumrind, D. (1967). Child-care practices anteceding three patterns of preschool behavior. Genetic Psychology Monographs, 75, 43-88.

Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56-95.

Maccoby, E.E. (1992). The role of parents in the socialization of children: An historical overview. Developmental Psychology, 28, 1006-1017.

Santrock, J.W. (2007). A topical approach to life-span development, third Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

 

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