The authoritarian parent can be described in modern terms as a 'Tiger' parent. The term was originally described by the development psychologist Diana Baumrind, who included the parenting style with two other major parenting skillsets – authoritative and permissive parenting. The authoritative parent tends to be highly demanding, but offers little love and nurturing; this leads to prolonged social implications that affect relationships and behavior throughout childhood, young adulthood and adulthood.
Characteristics of an Authoritarian Parent
Authoritarian parents, unlike permissive parents, set rules and use discipline to enforce those rules. Punishments may be more severe than other parenting styles with little or no reason given when children are punished. Authoritarian parents often measure worth, as a parent, on the successes of their children. Children are not given options to make decisions or mistakes as part of the learning and growth process. They are given demands and those demands are met with intense expectation for success.
Effects of Authoritarian Parenting on Child Development
Authoritarian parents lack nurturing skills present in permissive and authoritative parenting styles. Children are expected to meet strict parental demands that often limit self-thought and expression. When those demands are not met, children are punished. Love, acceptance and nurturing are replaced with expectation, demand and sometimes painful lack of love. Children of authoritarian parents often measure worth by achievement – striving to achieve in hopes of earning their parent’s love.
The effects of authoritarian parenting are not consistent among all children. Some children strive and achieve well beyond peers in educational settings, while others act out aggressively when parents are not around. Fear, shyness and low self-esteem are common, but not always present. Children may have difficulty socializing with peers leading to feelings of being alone, worthless or unable to meet demanding parental expectations.
How to Counteract the Negative Repercussions of Authoritarian Parenting
There is a fine line between authoritarian and authoritative parenting. If authoritarian parents can step back just a bit from intense demands and expectations and fill the gap with support, love and nurturing the authoritarian parent becomes an authoritative parent. Children may find their newfound freedom and unconditional love and support from parents a bit overwhelming. Creative thinking may be impaired due to strict parental demands in early years, but with support (possibly professional counseling), children can learn to take steps forward without clearly set rules and expectations to explore a more creative and self-guided side of life.
Experts believe that setting boundaries for children is crucial to guided development, but children also need to be nurtured and allowed to grow within self-set limitations and personal boundaries. Authoritarian parenting is not supportive of self-growth and personal exploration.