If you are a parent, chances are you fall into one of four parenting categories: permissive, uninvolved, authoritative and authoritarian. The permissive parent, the least demanding of the group, tends to be highly responsive to his child's emotional needs. This differs considerably to that of the uninvolved parent, who is often detached. The authoritative parent strikes a perfect balance between autonomy and responsiveness, resulting in positive parent/child experiences. The final parenting style -- authoritarian -- is the most rigid and demanding of the bunch, and unfortunately, it is the most likely parenting style to produce an anxious child. Because the authoritarian parent is always in control, there is little opportunity, if any, for the child to question unreasonable expectations. Often times, when the child of an authoritarian parent does dare to ask why, the parental response is "Because I said so."
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Do as I Say -- Or Else
Don't get the two mixed up: Authoritative parenting encourages discussion between parent and child, independent thinking and decision-making; authoritarian parenting relies on the fear factor to achieve a chosen outcome. For example, if you are an authoritarian parent, you are more inclined to tell -- not ask -- your child to perform a specific task without explanation. There are 'no ifs, ands or buts,' and resistance is met with certain punishment. Authoritarian parents have no interest in holding debates with their children. The approach is strictly "Do as I say — or else." The dreaded "or else" invokes fear in children of authoritarian parents.
Obedience is a Virtue
Authoritarian parents demand obedience and believe that in order to attain a certain level of discipline, it is necessary to control all aspects of a child's behavior. With this form of parenting, in order for a child to succeed within the home, compliance is critical. If authoritarian parenting is your thing, coercion is your ally. Those who approach their children with threats, physical punishment and intimidation tactics are considered authoritarian parents.
I Love You, But...
In some instances, the harshness of authoritarian discipline can cause a parent to appear detached or unfeeling. This is especially true when the parent uses love withdrawal as a way to make a point to a disobedient child. In such cases, the parent opts to become unresponsive until the desired affect is achieved. In fact, if despite your love, you have ever given your child the silent treatment in an effort to get him to adhere to your rules, you have dabbled in the authoritarian style of parenting.
According to the University of Idaho's psychology department, children of authoritarian, in general, parents fare better than those raised by permissive or uninvolved parents. The permissive parent, who may be inattentive or over-involved, does tend to provide a loving environment, but the lack of structure the parenting style provides encourages poor decision-making skills, disobedience and antisocial behavior in a child. Worse yet, the uninvolved parent is indifferent and for the most part, detached, with the outcome being a child who has difficulty expressing emotion and dealing with aggression. In a nutshell, children with authoritarian parents have an easier time adapting to the world than those who are overly coddled by a permissive parent or neglected by the uninvolved parent.