You have an Authoritarian Parenting Style - what does that mean?

Thanks for taking the Parenting Styles Quiz. If you did not take the quiz, please click here to find out what parenting style you have with our parenting styles quiz (opens new window). If you did take the quiz and have an Authoritative Parenting Style, read on...

# What are parenting styles?

Your kids’ genes don’t determine everything about their development and neither do their environments (including your parenting). Instead, their genes, your parenting, their friend groups, and many other factors all combine to play important roles in their development. Parenting style is one important factor that influences how kids develop.

Parenting style refers to the strategies that you use to raise, interact with, support, and discipline your child. There are three common parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive.

Based on your responses to this questionnaire, your parenting style is best described as authoritarian.

# What is authoritarian parenting?

Your parenting style is defined by high demandingness and low responsiveness. This means you are focused on setting high expectations for your kids and you don’t focus on providing warmth and nurturance. Obedience is really important to you as a parent. In fact, enforcing obedience may be how you show your love to your kids!

# What does this look like?

You may expect your kids to accept and follow your rules, limits, and boundaries without asking you any questions. You probably have many firm rules for your kids, and you are likely involved in all aspects of their lives. You like to control what they are doing, and you do this without much discussion with them. You might create some emotional distance between yourself and your kids. You probably don’t negotiate with your kids about your decisions, including consequences to your rules.

# How does this play out when disciplining your kids?

For example, let’s say you have a set amount of time that you allow your kids to use screens each day. If your kids want more time on their screens, you likely stick to your rules and do not allow them to spend more time on screens. If they break the rule, you may use punishments like revoking privileges or warmth. You may become angry or yell if your rules are not followed or respected.

Let’s consider family chores as another example. You may have set expectations that your kids do their dishes every night after dinner. Imagine that one of your kids tells you that they had a rough day at school, and they do not want to do the dishes that night. You will not change the rules to accommodate their desires and you will likely not explain this to them. Instead, you enforce your rule, and you expect them to do the dishes after dinner. If they do not do the dishes as expected, you punish them.

You don’t talk with your child about these boundaries, rules, or punishments, because you feel that as the parent, they should follow your rules. The “because I said so” mindset may be central to how you set and enforce your rules.

Children with authoritarian parents (like you!) tend to have mixed outcomes.

On the plus side, kids with authoritarian parents learn the importance of goal directed behavior and following rules.

However, kids with authoritarian parents may struggle with internalizing problems, like anxiety, depression, and poor social skills. These kids might also struggle with low self-esteem if they do not feel that their feelings or opinions are valuable.

Emotion regulation is a skill that kids learn through practice. If kids have authoritarian parents, they may have fewer opportunities to practice emotion regulation with their parent’s guidance, because they are expected to follow the rules without focusing on their emotions. These kids may struggle with emotion regulation.

For similar reasons, kids with authoritarian parents may also struggle with aggression and hostility towards others. Of all the parenting styles, authoritarian parenting is most associated with externalizing problems like hostility towards others and physical aggression.

# Now that you know your parenting style can be categorized as authoritarian, where do you go from here?

You are doing a great job setting and maintaining boundaries and rules, which are important for balanced parenting. You might consider increasing your responsiveness to your kids by showing more warmth and nurturance.

For example, instead of enforcing all rules without discussion, you might try explaining your reasons behind your rules and giving your kids an opportunity to ask questions and learn about your boundaries. You also might try to spend more time asking your children about their thoughts and feelings. It might also be helpful to allow your child to make some smaller decisions themselves (with your help, of course!).

Research suggests that the parenting style with the most positive outcomes is authoritative parenting. This parenting style is categorized by a balance of high emotional responsiveness (which you are already doing!) and high expectations (which may be an area of growth for you).

To become a more authoritative parent, you will want to keep providing warmth and nurturance towards your kids while also working on setting and enforcing clear boundaries and rules - these often provide benefits to your kids’ physical and mental health. Check out the results for authoritative parents (opens new window) and a guide about how to be a more authoritative parent (opens new window).

Being aware of what is going on in your kids’ lives can help you to best understand their feelings and needs. You are already doing a great job of responding to your kids’ emotions, but every parent can work on getting to know their kids better through healthy communication. Check out this guide for more information (opens new window).

Another way to build your relationship with your kids is by modeling good communication during tough conversations. This can be a great way to show your kids warmth while also using clear and direct communication, the balance to strive for if you are working towards authoritative parenting. Need some help with communication in difficult conversations? Check out this guide for some helpful tips (opens new window).

Parenting can be tough, and it can be easy to feel like you are not doing enough. Remember, parenting styles play a role in your kids’ development, but there are also many other factors that influence your kids. If you feel that you are blaming yourself or worrying about how your kids will turn out based on your parenting, check out these articles:

And please don’t forget, it is important to take care of yourself as a parent! Parents who take care of themselves are most able to make mindful parenting decisions. Taking care of yourself also models good self-care for your kids. Here are some tips for how to take care of yourself as a parent (opens new window).

Want to learn more about authoritative parenting? Check out the links below:

Want to learn about the other parenting styles:

# Do you or your child need support right now?

If you or your child are in a crisis situation please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, as well as prevention and crisis resources for you and your loved ones.

If you're not in crisis but would like to connect with an online counselor (through our partnership with Betterhelp), please use one of these links: