Strict parenting can have some benefits, but research suggests the long-term risks outweigh the benefits.

Parenting is one of the most challenging jobs. The most constructive parenting styles often don’t come naturally, making it even more work to be a great parent.

You have to navigate setting expectations for your child, consequences, and other responsibilities to foster their growth into a well-rounded adult. Some parents may be overly lenient in achieving this goal, while others focus on control and unquestioning obedience.

Do strict parents achieve better results for their kids? While the research shows strict or authoritarian parenting can be good in some ways, it often has negative effects.

Strict parents have a bad reputation. But rigid rules and high expectations often come from a good place. Strict parents usually impose tough rules and guidelines on their children because they want what is best for them. But this doesn’t always produce the outcomes they want.

A person’s culture may also dictate strict parenting. For example, older research suggests that those from collectivist cultures, such as Malaysia, tend to subscribe to authoritarian parenting styles.

The 4 types of parenting styles

There are generally four types of parenting styles.

Authoritarian style

Authoritarian-type parents are generally strict and inflexible. They impose a particular set of inflexible rules on their child and expect the child to obey without questioning their rules or expectations.

For example, a parent may assign specific chores, and there is no room for negotiation regarding what the chores are or when they’re required to be completed.

If you operate from this parenting style, you likely have high expectations of your children. Children are often punished for making mistakes. Parents of this style are less nurturing and can come off as cold.

Authoritative style

Authoritative parents are nurturing but also discipline their children. They use appropriate consequences to support their children, not punish them. They explain why they set the rules that they do.

Children with authoritative parents have input and communication about their parents’ expectations. Authoritative parent-child relationships are frequently close, with healthy and warm communication.

According to numerous research studies, authoritative parenting is the parenting style with the most benefits. It finds a balance between children’s discipline and autonomy.

Permissive style

Permissive parents have low levels of expectations from their children. They rarely use disciplinary measures or have rules. Instead, they tend to be nurturing but often let children figure things out for themselves.

Permissive parents have open communication with their children. Parents that operate from this parenting style often adopt a friendship-type relationship with their children rather than take on a parent role.

Uninvolved style

In this style, parents give their children complete freedom to do what they want. As a result, parents often meet their children’s basic needs and nothing more.

Parents that operate from an uninvolved style are generally viewed as cold and unaffectionate. These types of parents do not implement disciplinary tactics with their children, nor do they have a lot of communication with their children.

There are some benefits to having strict parents, which we define as parents who live by the authoritarian parenting style.

Well-behaved children

Children that grow up with authoritarian parents are often well-behaved. This is because strict parents set clear expectations of a child’s behavior, and children know what’s expected of them.

Behaving well is driven by fear. Children understand if they don’t live up to expectations, there will be consequences.

This benefit may be most helpful during a child’s younger years, as following strict rules can help keep them safer during various activities.

Goal-driven children

Children raised with authoritarian parents often have high expectations of themselves. These high expectations can help them reach their goals.

For example, research on college students in China found that authoritarian parenting style and high personal expectations were positively associated. In contrast, the same research study found that authoritarian parenting was positively associated with concern for one’s mistakes.

Science has found several negative effects of strict parenting.

Lower academic achievement

In Western cultures, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved parenting styles have been negatively associated with performance in school. This is in contrast to authoritative parenting, which has been associated with higher levels of academic achievement.

Lower life satisfaction

Pure authoritarian parenting styles may impact a person’s level of life satisfaction.

For example, research that explored the association between life satisfaction and parenting style found that parents who used only authoritarian styles had a substantial negative effect on children’s life satisfaction in all 10 countries included in the study.

Increased anxiety and depression

Researchers have found links between authoritarian parenting and negative mental health outcomes in various countries, including childhood anxiety and depression.

Difficulty making decisions

According to a 2006 study of parents in Asian cultures, children with strict parents also have lower self-esteem.

They depend on others to build their confidence, which is less innate since they constantly look to their parents for approval. Their low self-esteem leads to difficulty making decisions.

Low self-esteem might be connected to strict parenting’s tendency to raise kids with less empathy and social acceptance by peers, according to a 2020 study.

Higher levels of conflict intensity

Children raised with several harsh rules tend to rebel. For example, research examining conflict among adolescents and parents in China found that adolescents reported higher levels of conflict intensity when their parents used an authoritarian or uninvolved parenting style.

There are a few benefits to strict parenting, such as having your children behave in public or setting high expectations for themselves in achieving their goals. However, the long-term effects of authoritarian parenting tend to negatively affect children’s self-esteem, academic achievement, and overall life satisfaction.

Authoritative parenting, which finds a balance between having rules and supporting them if they don’t meet them, appears to have the best outcomes.

Parenting is a tough job, but having open communication with your children and allowing them room to make mistakes may be the best option for raising a happy and successful child.