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Long-Term Effects of Strict Parenting

by Beth Greenwood, studioD

Strict -- also called authoritarian -- parenting is a style of parenting identified by psychologist Diana Baumrind. There are three alternative styles: authoritative, permissive and uninvolved or neglectful. Each style has a different effect on the child and the parental-child relationship. Although strict parenting has some benefits, it is not as effective in the long term as authoritative parenting, according to biological anthropologist Gwen Dewar, creator of the website Parenting Science.

High Control, Low Warmth

Authoritarian parents are high in control and low in nurturance. They set high standards and expect obedience to the rules. However, these parents tend to display little warmth and affection or offer conditional love based on obedience and performance. Children of authoritarian parents may obey, but the obedience is based on fear, according to psychologist Matthew Miller, writing in an article for the Center for Christian Counseling & Relationship Development. Authoritarian parents often use shame and guilt to get children to change their behavior, don’t encourage verbal give-and-take, and expect their orders to be obeyed without question.


Although Dewar says some research shows children of authoritarian parents tend to be well-behaved, other research shows that by the time they become adolescents, these children are more likely to be aggressive. Fathers who were authoritarian were more likely to raise children who were physically aggressive toward their peers, according to a January 2003 article in the “International Journal of Behavioral Development.” These children were also more likely to display non-physical aggressive behavior in relationships with peers, such as name-calling and bullying.

Relationships and School Performance

Children raised by authoritarian parents are likely to have difficulty relating to their peers, according to Dewar. Teachers rate them as less socially competent, less helpful, less popular and less likely to be accepted by their peers. The authoritarian parental approach also leads to poor school performance. In fact, Dewar says when schools use authoritarian principles, dropouts increase. There is also evidence that these children are more likely to be depressed, anxious and have low self-esteem, according to clinical psychologist Laura Markham.


There may be some beneficial effects of authoritarian parenting. Children of Chinese parents who are recent immigrants to the United States tend to perform better scholastically, according to Dewar. She says children from lower socioeconomic groups with authoritarian parents show no difference in school performance when compared to children who come from authoritative families. An October 2012 article in "U.S. News Health" reported that strict mothers could positively affect behaviors in their children’s friends. Friends of adolescents with strict mothers were less likely to smoke, binge drink or use marijuana.

About the Author

Beth Greenwood is an RN and has been a writer since 2010. She specializes in medical and health topics, as well as career articles about health care professions. Greenwood holds an Associate of Science in nursing from Shasta College.

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