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Why The 'Because-I-Said-So' Brand Of Parenting Sets Kids Up For Failure

It’s not good news for the authoritarian parent.

12/12/2016 10:56 AM IST | Updated 14/12/2016 8:34 AM IST
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This is part 2 of a series on parenting styles. Part 1 of this series is here.

Your role as a parent begins once a child enters your life, and most fathers and mothers usually develop their own styles of parenting. Every type of parenting style has its own reasons and consequences. But what I would like to emphasise is that each of these styles also has subconscious undercurrents guiding it. This is what we need to be aware of. I will leave you to decide what your style of parenting is. You may find that your parenting style is a mix of many. But the bigger question is—are you aware of how your style is affecting the subconscious mind of your child?

Remember Shah Rukh Khan's father in the movie Devdas? That is an authoritarian parent.

Diana Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist, propagated the theory of parenting styles. She began with three types, to which researchers later added a fourth. They are:

1. Authoritative parenting

2. Authoritarian parenting

3. Permissive parenting

4. Negligent parenting

These four parenting styles can be put into a chart like a SWOT analysis.

The Authoritarian Parent

Remember Shah Rukh Khan's father in the movie Devdas? That is an authoritarian parent. Strong and adamant, not ready to accept anyone else's point of view, he or she believes that the child should do things because the parent said so.

The authoritarian parent likes order, discipline, neatness, routine and predictability. Children of such parents find it difficult to form meaningful relationships later on in life. This is because the first relationships in their lives did not culminate in anything meaningful. Such children usually lack self-confidence and stay away from their parents when they become adults.

Research indicates that children of authoritarian parents have one of the worst outcomes on virtually any measure of social or cognitive competence...

The authoritarian parent is result-oriented and rule-based. Parents who follow this parenting style do not hesitate in punishing their child, sometimes even without reason. They believe in punitive measures and not discipline. Such parents do not give importance to the emotions of their children. For the authoritarian parent, the child is only to be seen and not heard. These parents have ideas about how their child should be and the child's early years are spent in trying to live up to the expectations of the parent. The child is rewarded if he lives up to the expectations of the parent. Or else he is punished. Such parents do not discuss things with their children. Captain von Trapp in the movie Sound of Music personifies the authoritarian father who raises his children as if they are soldiers in an army.

The paradox of this style of parenting is that children are expected to behave as adults but are not considered such. The child may grow up to be a law abiding-citizen, but may not know what to do in life as he has been taught to only obey, never to take decisions for himself. They may lead a very passive life, without ever being proactive.

Bottling up emotions for a very long time can only make children explosive. For as long as they can, children of authoritarian parents may contain themselves. But once they cross their limits of patience, they rebel and may become dangerous both to others and themselves. This type of parenting has been linked to adolescent delinquency. Research indicates that children of authoritarian parents have one of the worst outcomes on virtually any measure of social or cognitive competence, academic performance and psychological wellbeing. They are more likely to exhibit problem behaviour. Children of such parents feel unvalued and unheard, and may lack social skills.

I'll tell you about the other parenting styles in my next few posts.

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