Parenting Styles – The Authoritarian Parent

Parenting Styles – The Authoritarian Parent

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If you’re a parent we hope you have invested in our How We Love as Parents Workshop available on our website at:

How We Love As Parents

This six hour seminar looks at the five love styles and how each with struggle with creating secure attachment with their kids.  If your kids are young, it will help you prevent some of the mistakes we made as parents.  If your kids are grown, it will help you with your grandkids and might spur some healing conversations with your adult children.  This month we will look at some great parenting ideas for your journey as a parent.  This week we will look at parenting that is too rigid.  Next week we will look at parenting that is all about love and lack discipline.  The last two weeks I’ll share the best parenting tips I’ve come across.

Here is one parenting style we observe as we talk to parents in our offices.

Authoritarian Parenting Style:
First Time Obedience:  Emphasis on Justice.

First time obedience is one of the slogans of the Ezzos, “Parenting God’s Way” and “Babywise”.   These methods advocating authoritarian parenting in God’s name have always been around.  When Milan and I were young we were strongly influenced by a similar program called. “Children, Fun or Frenzy”.   Just for fun, I googled this phrase and the booklet is still available.  Here is part of an article I found:

But how can we train? How can we train our children to obey us. God has given us the answer in His Word.
PROVERBS 22:15 says: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.”
Just a minute now, Lord. You surely don’t mean I am to use a rod, a stick, on my child. (My first thought is, “What am I to be, a policeman with a stick to keep him in line? I love him too much to want to hurt him.”) “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes (is diligent to discipline him).” (PROVERBS 13:24)

Then I argue, “But there are other ways of discipline. Words can be rods… the scolding, a rebuke.” “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” (PROVERBS 23:13,14)

“But I want to let him grow up free, without inhibitions.” “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” (PROVERBS 29:15)

But I am tempted to say, “Surely these little disobediences are not serious enough yet. He is so young. I will wait until he is older and I can reason with him and he can understand more.” “Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying.” (PROVERBS 19:18)

(But I am afraid if I discipline him he will only rebel more). “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul.” (PROVERBS 29:17)

I have had to ask myself… do I believe the Lord means what He says in these verses? That if I love my children and want to obey God concerning them I must take a stick (the Hebrew word for “rod” in Scripture means, “a stick, twig or branch from a tree”) and physically spank them when they disobey? I do believe He means just that. I also believe that if I, by faith, obey His Word, He will fulfil each promise He has given concerning child training.

My obedience to God to train my child requires that every time I ask him to do something, whatever it is, I must see that he obeys. When I have said it once in a normal tone, if he does not obey immediately, I must take up the switch and correct him (love demands this) enough to hurt so he will not want it repeated.

This is exactly what we were taught as young parents.  Neither Milan or I had a good model in our own homes growing up of a balance between loving connection and loving limits.   So, when were presented with a so called “biblical view” we did not have the skills or experience to evaluate just how balanced this method was.  We believed this was indeed “God’s way”.   I can say now we look back at some of the things we spanked our kids for with deep regret.

In my opinion, these systems make obedience is the highest goal of parenting.  The goal is to compliance with little regard for the child’s feelings, stressors or fluctuating circumstances. While children do need boundaries and must learn to listen and comply with their parents requests I believe creating a loving connection is the highest goal of parenting and correction must flow out of a strong connection.

Parenting in a rigid, black and white way causes a few major problems.  Praise God he does not parent me in such a way.  He does not swoop down with a rod every time I step outside His will.  On the contrary many times God allows the consequences of my choices to be the teacher.  I learn to think about my choices and how they affect my life.

Rigid parenting produces a child who obeys but has poor decision making abilities.  They learn to comply but don’t learn to think.  They may gravitate toward people as adults who will tell them what to do, or rebel and become controlling themselves.

When bad behavior occurs, first ask a few questions.  What is this behavior telling me?  Is there a stressor in this child’s life?  Is he or she overly tired?  Am I whisking my kids from event to event with no down time?  Is there tension in the marriage that is affecting my child?  Is your mood the problem?  Have you neglected your own self care so that you are parenting with no reserves?  Look underneath their behavior and try to address underlying things that may be fueling bad behavior rather than just reacting to misbehaving.

One of the best ideas I ever read for teaching a toddler to listen is to have a time out playpen, laundry room…somewhere to contain the child that is safe, within your eyesight that the child cannot climb out of.  For the Billy Goat kids there may need to be some creative innovations.  When the child moves toward the light socket, finger extended, mom or dad says “utt ohh”.  This replaces a thousand “No’s” a day.  If the child continues mom swoops him up, puts him in the playpen (or confined area) and says,  “Listen to mommy.  We will try again in a few minutes.”  Out he comes after a short time out.  Soon the child will associate “utt ohh” with a loss of freedom to roam and a restrictive time out.  This prevents yelling, threats and allows the parent to continue to accomplish the day’s chores.  

Thanks and blessings,


Milan & Kay

Next week: we will consider the opposite style of parenting.