The Problems with Strict Parenting

Having well-behaved children is desirable to many parents, but with how unpredictable childhood is, how does it happen? Many different strategies and methods of childrearing have existed throughout the centuries. Certain trends in parenting styles have dominated various generations. Developmental psychologist, Diana Baumrind, dedicated much study to this subject during the 1960’s to describe three main types of parenting. Permissive parenting is when parents do not prefer to enforce any rules or authority over children. There is often a lack of structure and little to no standard for behavior expectation. Authoritarian parenting is the exact opposite of permissive parenting. Strict obedience is expected and demanded in authoritarian parenting, with high standards for performance. The healthy middle ground is found in what Baumrind reportedly named, “authoritative” parenting. Authoritative parents take a moderate approach to childrearing that combines high standards with responsive nurturing.

For parents raising children in the strict authoritarian setting, there are some vital issues to examine in regard to raising well-adjusted kids. Children in an extremely strict environment are often very good rule-followers. However, this controlling obedience may backfire, by failing to allow them to form self-discipline. When kids are always hyper-controlled, they don’t know how to control themselves. They can’t learn how to make decisions for themselves when their parents are always making their decisions for them. This can manifest itself in small ways or large ones. They may become totally helpless, or hyper-controlling themselves. Inability to cope with changes in circumstances or expectations can, if left in an aggravated state, contribute to personality disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, depression and/or anxiety issues.

Lacking flexibility is a huge draw-back to the strict parenting style. This totalitarian relationship also hinders creativity for children. Afraid to try new things in fear of doing something wrong, innovation stops in its tracks for the child who tends to associate love with performance, success and obedience-only.

Plus, since the enforcement of strict parenting is often highly demanding and based on fear, this environment may even encourage bullying. When children don’t see empathy being demonstrated in the home, they don’t tend to display empathy to others. Because they don’t have a healthy outlet for failure, stress or disappointment, some children from authoritarian homes display more aggressive behavior in school or away from their parents. They struggle in social situations, or in circumstances in which they need to think for themselves.

Strict parenting in this drill-sergeant style does not lend itself agreeable to the space allowed to nurture the child. Little to no interest is taken in feedback, personal response or warmth. Parents tend to control and shame their children into obedience and status-quo. This restricting environment may be the social norm in some cultures and backgrounds, however, experts agree that it is an unbalanced approach to building successful and well-rounded individuals. Authoritarian parenting is often too retributory, manipulative and controlling; lacking the emotional warmth, growth and unconditional love that children need.

Finding the middle ground seems to be the choice most successful, according to Baumrind and other

experts. If your daily emphasis is focused mainly on obedience and performance, try softening your edges and allowing opportunities for creative nurturing to flourish. If you find yourself constantly yelling and demanding results, brainstorm quieter ways to enforce expectations while explaining more of the reasons behind the rules. This relationship focus will automatically shift things to the nurture side. You can keep rules and standards while building or maintaining relationship with your kids.

Giving them some freedom will not only raise more self-reliant, confident children, but it will ultimately help them grow in areas they have previously been overshadowed in. Having well-behaved children may sound desirable, but having well-rounded children should always be the goal.