What Is Authoritarian Parenting?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on September 20, 2023
2 min read

Authoritarian parenting is a strict style of parenting that places high expectations on children. Authoritarian parents set rigid rules with no explanation, and expect their children to obey them without question or face severe punishment. Children follow these rules because they know there are consequences if they don't. 

Authoritarian parents aren't nurturing or flexible, and they consider obedience as a sign of love. Communication is usually one-way; children are discouraged from expressing themselves, and talking back isn't an option. 

While boundaries are good, research shows that authoritarian parenting can have negative effects on kids, including: 

  • Emotional and behavioral problems
  • Poor social and decision-making skills
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Aggression
  • A strong sense of failure 
  • Low self-esteem
  • Being more open-minded about suicide than other kids

Authoritarian parents are extremely rigid and use tough rules to control their children. Many parents are distant and demanding, which leaves their children struggling with mental health and self-esteem issues.

Authoritarian parenting is linked to negative outcomes, although researchers say it's not considered abuse.  

In contrast, authoritative parents use reasonable rules and limits with their children to set high expectations. Parents listen to, and support, their children's ideas and guide them to be independent. They use consistent discipline to teach their children how to behave well, and love and warmth to help them feel safe.

Studies show that children who grow up with authoritative parents are usually confident and responsible, and emotionally healthy. They have higher self-esteem than children of authoritarian parents and also tend to do well academically. 

Authoritarian parents tend to:

  • Lack warmth 
  • Use criticism instead of positive reinforcement
  • Have trust issues 
  • Not be willing to negotiate
  • Set rules without explanation
  • Make choices for their children
  • Lack patience with misbehavior

How you parent and connect with your child will establish their morals, values, and behavior as they grow up. If you’re an authoritarian parent, some of your parenting could negatively impact your child. 

Repercussions on children from authoritarian parenting may include:

  • Low self-esteem
  • A hard time with social situations
  • Displaying aggressive behavior outside the home
  • Problems accepting failure
  • Conforming easily but having anxiety