Authoritarian Parenting Effects on Adults [HOW BAD IS IT?]

Authoritarian parenting has effects that last into adulthood. Adults who were exposed to authoritarian parenting are more likely to have low self-esteem. They are also more likely to develop anxiety, depression, or substance abuse disorders. Some adults may also have trouble controlling their anger.

Authoritarian parenting is one of the four parenting styles based on Diane Baumrin’s work. It is defined as an extremely strict parenting style that often places high expectations on children with a focus more on obedience, discipline, and control rather than nurturing the child. Although we might see the immediate effects of our parenting style, we do not see the long-term effects. Thankfully, the long-term effects of these parenting styles are well documented, providing us the opportunity to make a well-informed decision as to our parenting style. So how does authoritarian parenting affect adults?

If you are an adult that was exposed to authoritarian parenting, you may wonder if there are ways to recover. Continue reading to find out what you can do to heal.

Authoritarian Parenting Example of father pointing finger at sad child

Related Reading: Authoritative Vs. Authoritarian Parenting

Authoritarian Parenting Effects on Adults

The long-term effects of authoritarian parenting have been well documented, from childhood into adulthood. Here is how authoritarian parenting affects adults:

Adults of Authoritarian Parenting Have Low Self-Esteem

The effects of the authoritarian parenting style are long-lasting. Children brought up with this parenting style are known to develop low self-esteem. Unfortunately, for many authoritarian-raised children, low self-esteem persists into adulthood.

Individuals with low self-esteem often feel inadequate, incompetent, and unlovable. They may also believe that other people are better than them and fear failing. Individuals with low self-esteem are sensitive to criticism.

Some individuals may react to criticism in a hostile manner as hostility and aggression are their defense mechanisms against criticism. Individuals with low self-esteem focus on negative aspects of themselves and might fear letting others down.

Authoritarian Parenting Increases Disorder Risk in Adulthood

Adults raised by authoritarian parents are more likely to develop mental health disorders. Depression, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders are the most commonly reported. It is important to reiterate that having authoritarian parents does not mean you will develop disorders. However, the link between this parenting style and mood and substance disorders in adulthood cannot be ignored.

Anxiety symptoms include feeling restless or on edge, irritable or worried, exhausted, and having difficulty concentrating. Panic attacks may also accompany these symptoms. Depression is characterized by feelings of sadness, emptiness, and hopelessness.

Additionally, there may be changes in appetite and sleep patterns. There may also be a loss of interest in things previously enjoyed and trouble concentrating. Please note that some symptoms of mood disorders were listed, and not all.

Authoritarian Parenting May Lead to Anger Problems in Adults

Some adults who experienced authoritarian parenting when they were younger may grow up to develop problems coping with anger. These individuals have a low tolerance for frustration and quickly become hostile or aggressive.

The anger is typically a result of resentment towards one’s parents. In addition, individuals expressing constant anger may have difficulties maintaining relationships with friends, significant others, or family members.

How to Recover from Authoritarian Parents

You may be wondering if there is a way to recover from the ill effects of having had authoritarian parents as a child. Thankfully, there is. Continue reading to learn more.

Acceptance Helps to Recover

The first step in healing is acknowledging and accepting that you need it. Denial is the enemy of recovery. If you are in denial, you will sweep traumas, troubles, and difficulties under the rug. While this might sound like a good enough option – it is not. Ignoring problems does not make them go away.

In fact, ignoring issues often worsens the situation as problems will be compounded on top of other problems over time. This will lead to an overabundance of problems. If one problem is difficult to handle, dealing with a plethora of problems will be even more challenging.

Create Physical Separation

To heal properly, you need to separate yourself from your parents. However, this is not possible for everyone. Some individuals may still live with their parents, while others may have temporarily moved back due to financial challenges.

However, if you are living on your own or can afford to live alone, the best thing to do is to create some distance between you and your parent. This means limiting the amount of contact you have with your parents, whether via text, telephone, or house visits. Distancing yourself from your authoritarian parents will help you to heal in a safe space.

Related Reading: It’s OK To Hate Your Family [HERE’S WHY]

Have a Support System to Help Recover

Support is key to your healing process. While many people might opt to go through their healing process alone, it is essential to remember that we are solitary beings. Solitary confinement often makes us feel worse rather than better.

Studies show that a support system can improve overall mental health. If you do not have a support system, do not worry. Try reaching out to friends and family for support. You can also ask for help at your local religious center. There are also many online support groups that you can join.

Be Aware of Negative Self-Talk

The authoritarian parenting style can leave us with a negative view of ourselves, which is not true. These perceptions are so embedded into our being that we engage in constant negative self-talk without realizing it. To stop the negative self-talk, we first need to be aware of it. This will require active awareness of all our thoughts.

Once you ‘capture’ a negative thought, try and reverse the thoughts in your head. So, if your thought says ‘I cannot do this,’ change it to ‘ I can do this.’ While you may not notice any difference at first, changing how you talk to yourself should have some effect.

Talk to Healthy Family Members

You can do wonders for your healing by talking to family members who share your views. Speaking to these family members can make you feel more understood as they know the situation. It can be helpful to vent to these family members and seek solace as you will feel understood if you do so.

Visit a Therapist to Help Heal

Visiting a therapist may help in your healing journey. Therapy sessions provide a safe space to explore your past, thoughts, feelings, and present difficulties. Therapists can assist with giving you proper coping strategies and help you feel empowered. Some therapists are more specialized in their field, such as trauma-based therapy. Consequently, if you want to see someone more specialized, you can do so.

Have the Patience to Heal

The road to healing is often a long road for some. So don’t be discouraged if your healing takes longer than expected. Also, try not to compare your healing journey with others. Some might seem to recover from authoritative parents much quicker, while others may take a while. Everyone is different, and so is how we deal with things.

Continue Reading: Parenting Styles – Which One Is Parenting The Right Way?


Due to the long-lasting effects of authoritarian parenting into adulthood, we do not recommend this parenting style. The cons outweigh the pros. If you are someone who was brought up in an authoritarian home and would like to recover, there are ways to do so. A solid support system and visits to a therapist can do wonders for your healing journey.

There are also online support groups online. In addition, one should be aware of the dialogue in their head. Any negative thought should be replaced with a positive one. If you are able to move out of the house or already live on your own, contact with your parents should be limited. This will help you to heal in a way that feels safe. All in all, healing takes time, so don’t rush the process.

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