Parenting styles have constantly been associated to diverse outcomes such as influence on academic performance and behavior problems. Building on the research in the parenting style, this essay aims to examine the aftermath of the implementation of authoritarian parenting style.
This paper will discuss the effect and consequences on child behaviour when exposed to a strict and dominating parenting style whilst debating against its limitations and abiding by the research question that considers “to what extent”.
In today’s generation, punishments have become the easiest way out to get work done, but it is important to realise the effects and consequences of such parenting that may with certainty effect the growth and development of a child and their behaviour. Parents play a pivotal role in their child’s upbringing and therefore should also be held responsible for their child’s mistakes as it is the circumstance the child has been placed in that has shaped his or her behavioural personality.
Although the relationship between offspring and parent is characterized as bidirectional and interactional, this paper will focus on the impact of parenting on negative child outcomes; effects that hinder the holistic social and psychological development of the child. The research question has strong relevance to the prevailing real life scenarios across the globe. This essay will hopefully deduce insights to enhance the effect and consequences on child behaviour, to foster a greater sense of responsibility and accountability on parenting through the investigation: To what extent does the discipline style of authoritarian parents influence the likelihood of negative child behaviour?
Evolution of Authoritarian Parenting:
The 18th century, often referred to as the seeds of authoritarian parenting has certainly shaped and revolutionised the parenting style through decades. The era that sought justice to a physical endeavour through child labour, eradicated female birth, child associations to evil forces where children were beaten to avoid being possessed. Forced child marriage had only began to progress towards a changed mentality where children in the Western world set aside superstitious beliefs of seeing potential representation of dark and evil forces in their children. Whilst there had been progress and change in societal mentality, the Victorian age, upholding strict morality defined a parental conviction towards the repression and control of a child’s mind, feelings, emotion, desires and needs. Evoking guilt, threats and spanking became widespread modes of upbringing accompanied by punishments like harsh physical abuse, being locked in dark cabins or rooms to control child behaviour.
Parents identified as authoritarian, showcase highly directive behaviours, uphold high levels of constraint and rejection behaviors, and powerasserting conduct. They tend to uphold a philosophy that “it’s my way or the highway.”
There is an abundance of distinctly established rules, violations of these profound orders do not go unpunished. Parents who follow the authoritarian parenting style are usually not willing to elucidate “why” and often use phrases such as; “Because I said so” or “As long as you live under my roof you must live by my rules.” This approach has the benefit of predictability for children and also helps foster self-control. Children nurtured in this manner however often exhibit sorrow, possess low self esteem and may also lack social skill sets. This style of parenting could also be a complete disaster for children that possess personalities which clash with this parenting style.
Authoritarian Style of Parenting in the 21st Century:
As contributing members to the family unit, children exposed to the authoritarian style of parenting feel undervalued and unheard. While typically, these children uphold an obedient persona due to the fear of undesirable negative parental consequence; they are emotionally hampered. The practice of the authoritarian parenting style is devoid of constant parental support (affection, praise and comfort). The priority rather falls upon the parent’s authority over the child and the demand for obedience. The children in this parental setting are highly restricted by their parents o their autonomy (Baumrind, 1996 & Reitman et al., 2002). Studies indicate that whilst the practice of exercising the authoritarian parenting style produces positive developmental outcomes in children in collective/ authoritative cultures, it is associated with negative psycho-social outcomes in western societies. Research suggests that parenting practices and culture are relational to parenting style (Brenner & Fox, 1999; Vygotsky, 1978). Consequently, cultural factors play a significant role in shaping parental practices as it dictates the guidelines and principles about parenting (Vygotsky, 1978).
Why do parents resort to the practise of this parenting style?
Upon observation of different families, it may seem noticeable that a large population of parents opting this upbringing approach today are often subject to their nationality or ethnic and dictated by their cultural backgrounds. While others had been raised by parents adopting the authoritarian parenting style themselves and simply tend to replicate or model their style without any considerations towards alternative approaches.
Finally there are the population of parents that uphold the belief of ruling with an iron fist being the best way to keep their children under disciplinary practices and under conformity at all times.
Authoritarian style of Parenting across cultures and ethnic groups
Influence of culture:
Families being social groups may naturally be influenced by the surroundings and context around them. Parent – child interactions and family relationships are individually shaped and influenced by cultural context (Triandis, 2001), suggesting that parents must spend more time with their child to retain the culture they uphold to avoid the loss of inherited culture by the adoption of the culture that prevails in the environment they are surrounded by. Thus, depending on the culture, there are dissimilarities in childrearing practices. Indeed, in one of her early publications on parenting styles, it was Baumrind (1972) who recommended that if parenting behavior is constant and accordant with cultural values, then children will accept it. If certain goals or expectations are favoured more in one culture in comparison to another, then it seems felicitous that the parent(s) will place more of an emphasis on those distinct attributes with their children. Acculturation is the modification of the culture of a group or individual because of contact with a different culture, may also have an effect on the authoritarian parenting style.
In a comparative study which examined American Indian mothers living in the U.S. with those living in India, Jambunathan and Counselman (2002) showed that authoritative parenting was the most common parenting style among Asian Indian mothers who lived in the United States while Asian Indian mothers living in India had more authoritarian styles. Therefore, the culture that an individual is enclosed in is bound to influence the specific type of parenting style that is chosen. Hence, parents need to recognise the upbringing style their child requires with respect to the cultural environment they reside in to avoid the development of negative behavioural outcomes.
Collectivist versus Individualist Cultures associated with child outcomes:
Culture moulds an individual’s values and beliefs. Previous studies have revealed that specific attitudes and values are generally different between individualistic and collectivist societies (Triandis, 2001). An individualistic culture tends to emphasise on independence and the pursuit of individual achievement. On the contrary, a collectivist culture places more priority on the individual contributing to the well-being of the family and community (Darling & Steinberg, 1993).
Consequently, these values and beliefs will naturally mould parents and influence their interaction with their children and their parenting style. Parents in collectivist countries are inclined to promote values such as independence, helpfulness, and conformity within their family unit (Darling & Sternberg, 1993). Child outcomes are also likely to be affected as a result of the difference in goals and expectations upheld by each culture of their citizens and the children will be socialized under these differentiated conditions. Thus, an effective parenting style in the United States, the authoritative parenting style, may not be as effective in other cultures. In the authoritarian parenting style, a clear hierarchy is established within the family unit and the child’s own needs or wishes are not emphasised as a priority. Individuality amongst the children is not a focus while respect for parents is pivotal. Hence, in accordance to the outcomes valued in collectivist societies, authoritarian parenting may be more appropriate in comparison to other parenting styles.
Authoritarian Parenting in Different Cultures and Outcomes:
It has often been argued that Baumrind had approached her earlier work on parenting styles and the descriptions behind each of them from an ethnocentric approach (Chao, 1994). In other words, the manner in which individualists define words by attaching meaning to them may be contrary in comparison to someone who originates from a collectivist culture background. For example, while authoritarian parents’ may be defined and categorised as caring and concerned parents in Asia, they might appear highly controlling and dominating to European Americans. Hence, association of words like “restrictive” or “authoritarian” might not weigh as much relevance for other cultures as monitoring by parents and some degrees of strictness may be viewed and perceived as signs of parental concern and involvement (Chao, 1994). Likewise, the control over behaviour tends to have a direct relation to positive developmental outcomes for Korean adolescents who uphold a belief that this behavior portrays parental warmth and acceptance of the individual. While on the contrary, behavioral domination or control is quite often perceived as a negative characteristic of parenting among adolescents in European America (Kim, 2005).
To help rectify these discrepancies, Chao (1994) introduced the notion of “training” that incorporates parental control and weighs heavy on the magnitude of parent-child interactions, concern, support and physical proximity. It emphasizes self – discipline, obedience and the need to do well in school. The notion of training stands as evidence against the negative outlook on authoritarian parenting and may explain why this style has a positive influence on Asian children development (Dornbusch, et. al., 1987).
Influence of Gender and Ethinic/Racial Differences on Child Outcomes United States of America:
A differing result in the academically oriented achievements is observed among the minority population families in the United Sates. Dornbusch, et al. (1987) had requested students to categorise their parental figures into one among the three different parenting styles i.e. authoritative, authoritarian and permissive. It was observed that the Asian-American students were significantly more likely to suggest that their parents were categorised abiding by the laid parameters of the authoritarian discipline. However, despite the consistent and unvarying findings in an earlier work which suggested that authoritative parenting was associated with higher academic achievement, the Asian-American students scored highest in terms of GPA. Park and Bauer (2002) profoundly unleashed that the relationship between authoritative parenting style and its associated academic achievement only pertained within the European American jurisdiction. Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans failed to showcase an inclination to this correlation.
The connotations given to parental support may also vary across racial lines. Black adolescents uphold a different interpretation and meaning placed upon the amount of encouragement, interest and parental support they receive, contradictory to the views of White adolescents (Mboya, 1995). Consequently, the effects that various forms of parental engagement have on a child will likely vary depending on their race or ethnicity. In terms of self-concepts, Mboya (1995) showed that Black adolescents possess a greater scale of dependency on family interaction than White adolescents.
The potential contradictions in socio-economic status among these ethnic groups and its consequences must also be considered while evaluating the procured outcomes of negative behaviour among children upon the implementation of the authoritarian parenting discipline. In relation, the lower socioeconomic status (SES) predicts results of harsh parenting practices, that then aids the externalisation of negative behaviors (Meteyer & Jenkins, 2009). Lack of education and lower economic status is also suggested to have a correlation with the authoritarian parenting style, and it is also a common possibility that the parents take control of the decisions and set aspiring targets and goals with high expectations in the families for their children that may be different from the goals of the child themselves. (Darling & Steinberg, 1993). For instance, some parents may not value and prioritise academics as much as parents practising the authoritarian discipline style and therefore tend to weigh heavy emphasis on obedience and discipline as a more important factor in the child’s overall personality development as an individual.
As a matter of fact, although authoritarian parenting is measured in a general environment, it has diverse effects and varied negative child outcomes on gender differences. In the case of females, circumstances are severe in the absence of parental support (Lease & Dahlbeck, 2009), leading to appalling outcomes such as clinical depression, social refrain (development of an introvert personality) and fear of the child’s parental figures. While on the other hand, males are negatively effected upon the absence of demandingness (Hart, et. al, 2007), leading to entailing outcomes such as excessive aggression, involvement in unethical activities and juvenile violence, lack of self discipline and poor academic performance as a result of the absence of expectations.