Nov 15, 2012

The Problem with Authoritarian Parenting

crazydad.jpgAs a sequel to our last post (and newsletter) about the problems with permissive parenting, now couldn't be a more perfect opportunity to summarize the problems with strict parenting. Much has been published about the negative affects of authoritarian styles of parenting, so I'll aim to outline as many broad-spectrum points about the subject as possible.
If permissive parenting is described as lackadaisical, lenient and submissive in the context of conflict, then it's safe to say that strict parenting promotes iron-fistedness, aggressiveness and dominance above all. Strict parents will often "win" or "get what they want" in any given conflict, but the visible and emotional affects on the child include much (if not all) of the following:
  1. Externally compliant, but internally depressed and defeated
  2. Compliant but internally enraged, build-up of aggressiveness
  3. Feigned sycophancy in aims to manipulate
  4. Fear of trying/Fear of failure
  5. Lying
  6. Forming "groups" in order to fight back in numbers
  7. Rebelling/Outlashing - especially after long periods of submission
  8. Withdrawing from parents and social interactions
  9. Tendency to seek out adult relationships that are controlling (acting as the controlee)
  10. Increased probability of developing anxiety disorders
  11. Tendency to forfeit and ignore their own needs
  12. Self-imposed, impossible attempts at perfection

Although this list is dismal, many of these points resonate with adults who are the product of authoritarian parenting in their childhood. It is often the case that when parents realize the affects that their childhood had on them, that they realize it is not something that should be continued through the next generation.

More on the effects of punishment and parental power can be found in Chapter 10 of the Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) book.

by: Selena C. George


  1. Don't be permissive; don't be authoritarian. Guess what? BE authoritarian... those parents' kids are ultimately much better citizens than kids of permissive parents.

    Your posts just come across as self-righteous. I'm glad you've got everything figured out perfectly... one size fits all parenting for every child on the planet. I need to stop reading this stuff.

    1. You sound pretty fed up! It's like, with all of the conflicting parenting methods coming from all angles, some of us just have it plain wrong. You feel that kids who've grown up with permissive parenting would NOT be the kind of adults that you'd like to see in everyday society, but rather, that the ones who were raised with punishment and consequences (for example) are the ones who thrive. To top it off, we (PET) come across as nothing but audacious know-it-alls who seem to think that we have some universal answer to parenting, but really don't. It's also implied that there seems to be only these two options for parenting: authoritarian or permissive.

      To that we'd like to respond: PET is neither authoritarian NOR permissive, but is a completely different option that is entirely on it's own continuum. And we'd highly encourage you to find out just what this third option is. :)

      We'd love to talk with you anytime, if you'd like! 800.628.1197
      - Selena at GTI.

    2. Since reading the PET book our house has been a nicer place to live, both for us parents and the kids. I'm not saying I've got all the answers but mostly it's working, we're all on the same side and that's a good thing. PET isn't about one size fits all or letting your kids get away with murder. I'm sorry you don't seem to have gained from it what I have. x

    3. Sounds like you are reading the blogs but having a hard time understanding how to apply what is written about and not sure if P.E.T. is for you. I do think it would be very hard to fully appreciate the wisdom and insights shared in the P.E.T. blog without the benefit of reading the book by Dr. Thomas Gordon and in an ideal world also taking the course.

      You are right, it is about more than just reading the material it is about applying it. We can all attest to the fact that applying it takes time, patience and a commitment to the change process but that the rewards, in terms of the change in relationship dynamics are so worth it. Those of us who have taken the course and who teach the course, do tend to be very enthusiastic about the material due to the impact it has on our significant relationships so thank you for the heads up that we need to be very careful not to come across as self-righteous, that certainly is not the intention.

      P.E.T. isn't a one-size fits all approach. At its absolute core it is a model of communication and a framework for viewing and understanding the dynamics of relationships that when applied allows each unique relationship to thrive because each individuals unique needs are met.

      On the first Monday of each month I hold a free conference call focusing on the communication skills taught in the P.E.T. course which you may find helpful in providing more information about the Gordon Model and how you can apply it. You can listen to a past call titled 'There is No Misbehavior Only Unmet Needs' via this link

      Thank you for taking the time to read the blog posts and to provide the feedback that will allow us to meet the unique needs of each reader out there.

    4. I appreciate reading your empathic response to the previous commentator. With so much conflict and animosity around parenting ideas, it is so helpful and healing to see an example of compassion for another perspective.

  2. This isn't a great post. Anyone who needs to hear this is only going to get angry and abusive if you show them this. They will claim they are not authoritarian, for one thing. But this is merely a list. And also, they probably don't care - people like this are incapable of love of emotional awareness so they don't care if the child is internalizing pain and fear. A more comprehensive explanation of the child's severe damage is needed, and a longer post.


Thanks for commenting! - P.E.T.