What Is Authoritarian Parenting?

Authoritarian parenting is one of the four main parenting styles, and of the four it's also the most strict.

By Rick Gonzales | Published

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authoritarian parent

Authoritarian parenting is one of the four main parenting styles, and of the four it’s also the most strict. Very high expectations are placed on the child. As a parent using this style, your focus is more on discipline, obedience, and control rather than the nurturing of your children. If a child makes a mistake, the punishment is harsh. If a child requires feedback, it is more than likely going to be negative.

The other three styles of parenting besides Authoritarian parenting are…

  • Authoritative parenting offers a wonderful combination of styles. The parent solves problems with their child. They set clear and concise rules as well as expectations for the child. They keep communication open but also allow for consequences for a misbehaving child.
  • The Permissive parenting style is child-driven. As a parent, you rarely give or enforce rules. Typically, the parent will also overindulge the child as a means of avoiding conflict.
  • The Neglectful parenting style sees the parent uninvolved or even absent from the child. There is little to no guidance and the parent is often indifferent to the child’s needs emotionally or behaviorally.


One of the many major roles of a parent is to teach your children the values and expectations of your culture. With an authoritarian parent, you may have your own expectations that your child may not see eye-to-eye with.

Corporal punishment is a common tactic with Authoritarian parents. They love to yell at the children and prefer to punish the child for their failure while not giving any credence to their achievements. Their expectation is for the child not to make mistakes and to obey what the parent is requiring.

Cold and calculating is how authoritarian parenting is handled. The need to “sit on” a child, especially if they find trouble easily, is paramount for the parent. While in other parenting styles, parents offering praise and encouragement to help develop self-worth and self-esteem, authoritarian parents choose to take the opposite approach.

Using shame is the default in authoritarian parenting. There is little thought, if any, given to considering your child’s emotions when instilling good morals. Instead, you use shame to force your child to follow your strict set of rules. What eventually happens, though, is that this way of shaming may lead your child to the bad behavior you don’t want and lessen the bond between you and your child.

Speaking of bad behavior, as an authoritarian parent, you may not be expecting bad behavior. So when you aren’t expecting it but actually get some, your patience level is low. Of course, you know better, so you also lack the patience in explaining to your misbehaving child why they need to avoid their bad behavior. Your demanding nature causes you to spend little to no time at all thinking about how your child views things.

Trust issues? Yes, these play a big part in how you deal with your child. If you don’t trust them to make good choices, it may be time to reevaluate your parenting style. When you constantly monitor your child for mistakes, they feel they won’t have the freedom to prove they can make good choices. If you constantly hound a child to ensure they won’t make bad decisions, you limit them from even trying. Your child is never going to feel the weight of consequences for making poor decisions.

Another trait of authoritarian parents is often a lack of empathy. That means you have little to no feeling for your child. If you make no attempt to understand your child’s emotions, it will eventually teach them the same trait. They will then grow up mirroring you by treating others with little regard for their feelings.


We’ve already touched on a few outcomes a child may have to face under an authoritarian parenting style. It is clear that following this style, there will be more negative consequences than positive ones.

One of the more important skills a child should be taught and learn is social skills. If authoritarian parenting causes a lack of time to socialize, kids may find it very difficult to relate to their peers when they become adults.

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Another big concern for children under an authoritarian parent is the possibility of displaying aggressive behavior outside their home. If a child grows up in a harsh environment that includes physical punishment and yelling, then children are likely to take that into their adult life.

Children brought up under this style are often unable to accept failure. If they are always pushed to perfection and cannot learn from their mistakes, then the fear of failure can be a major negative in their lives. Failure can be a great teacher.


It is true that there are plenty of negatives surrounding an authoritarian parenting lifestyle. But there are a few positives as well.

One of the positives seen is your child’s desire to do things the absolute right way. Constant pushing will make your child always strive to do the right thing.

Another big positive is that for the most part, parents implementing this style will have a more responsible child. They get used to following rules and that is a trait they typically take with them into adulthood.

One more positive is that your child may become more goal-driven. Children learn quickly about rules and their expected behavior. Because of this, they tend to be very goal-oriented which leads them to give their best in everything they do.


As you can see, authoritarian parenting is a long row to hoe. Most experts agree the negatives far outweigh any positives. Those negatives can badly affect the way your child develops into an adult.