Consequences of Authoritarian Parenting

By: Margaret Paul, Ph.d.
Do you believe that it is your job as a parent to have control over your children? Do you find yourself trying to control your children in the ways your parents tried to control you, or in the ways you learned from siblings, friends or relatives? Do you hope that through yelling, threatening, shaming, blaming, judging, demanding, spanking, nagging, lecturing, explaining, arguing, and so on, you will get them to do what you want them to do? Is it working?Most of us do not like to be controlled, and children are no exception. While they may comply in certain areas to avoid punishment, they will likely resist in other areas.What Are the Negative Consequences to Your Child of Attempting to Control Him or Her?Your choice to control always has negative consequences for your children. It is important to connect your controlling behavior with the consequences that may result. While controlling might work in the short run, it can create many problems in the long run.What are the problems you are having?
  • My child and I get into power struggles.
  • My child does what I want most of the time but becomes resistant in certain areas. My child resists:
Taking a bath or showerBrushing teethGoing to bedDoing homeworkGetting ready for schoolLearningGoing to schoolReadingKeeping his or room cleanDoing choresTelling the truthDressing appropriately for schoolUsing appropriate languageLooking niceBeing kind and considerateBeing on timeTalking with meHaving my valuesEating wellCaring about his or her health.

Instead, he or she:SmokesDrinks alcoholSmokes potUses drugsEats junkCaring about his or her safety. Instead, he or she:Rides a motorcycle without a helmetDrinks or uses drugs and drivesDrives recklesslyHas unprotected sexWalks in dangerous areasCalling when he or she is going to be lateCaring about what is important to meBeing loving to meListening to meGetting a job
  • My child never does what I ask. He or she is always resistant.
  • My child suffers from low self-esteem.
  • My child is depressed.
  • My child feels unloved.
  • My child is bossy with other kids.
  • My child is tense, anxious, angry and/or unhappy.
  • My child beats up on younger kids.
  • My child does not take personal responsibility.
What are the Negative Consequences to You of Trying to Control Your Child?Your controlling behavior may also have negative consequences for you, especially in the long run.What are the consequences for you?
  • Parenting is not fun. It feels like a burden.
  • I feel resentful toward my child.
  • I am tired of the power struggles.
  • I feel tense, anxious, angry or frustrated.
  • I feel like a failure as a parent.
  • My child and I do not have fun together.
  • I feel rageful and out of control.
  • I feel overwhelmed.
Parenting really can become a wonderfully fulfilling experience when you learn to parent as a loving and respectful adult rather than from the fear and insecurity that underlies controlling behavior.The secret of letting go of controlling parenting is to learn what it means to be kind to yourself. If your focus is on being kind to your children but not to yourself, you will likely become a permissive parent, which has just as many negative consequences as controlling parenting. When you focus on being kind to yourself, you naturally refuse to tolerate unkind behavior from your children. However, instead of trying to control your children, you learn to take care of yourself. By learning to take loving action in your own behalf and setting logical consequences for your children's unacceptable behaviorArticle Search, your children will learn to take personal responsibility far more quickly than when you attempt to force it on them.

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