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Guiding Teenagers Blogs

What THE? Parenting Series: PART IV

This series is designed (but not necessary) to be read chronologically; if you need to catch up or skip ahead, the links below will take you to where you need to go!


Throughout this series, we have focused on parenting skills, primarily allowing children to dictate the relationship. Today, we focus on the opposite, where the parents rule over every final decision in the relationship, with the child having little say in any affairs. blogs | Parenting Series | What THE?

When this is the case, and most, if not all, of the decisions, are run past the parent needing their approval before allowing the child or teen to do anything, it is typically classified as Authoritarian Parenting. A brief look at the primary characteristics of an Authoritarian Parent:

  • The relationship between parent and child is primarily parent-driven

  • Parents have stringent household rules for their children and harsh punishments to match

  • Child's wants, along with their social and emotional life, come secondary, if ever considered

  • Communication is typically one-way from parent to child, and when the child gets a voice, often it is not taken seriously or is ignored


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>>> What THE?


What THE?

Sometimes parents wonder, "What the hell was that kid thinking?!" Other times their counterpart, the young minds, are left thinking, "What the heck do I have to do to make my parents happy?!" In an authoritarian family hierarchy, the parent and child seem to butt heads more than any other type of parenting. So I got to thinking, what THE hell is causing this?! Then I discovered it: What THE?

THEatrics & THEory behind it

In a home with an authoritarian parent, the parent is very much involved in their child's life. Typically it is an excellent thing and can be very beneficial. However, if the parents are not doing this correctly, meaning they do not keep themselves in check and aren't humbled to admit when they are becoming too controlling, it can lead to disaster, as so many times is the case. blogs | Parenting Series | What THE?

In an authoritarian relationship, parent-to-child, two things happen: 1) anything the child wants in life, they must go to their parents and either ask for it or permission to do it. 2) What the parent says goes; it becomes law regardless of how the child feels about it. The child's emotional, social, and other "non-essential" elements are often not considered. It boils down to the parents being in utter control of everything from the food eaten, to the friends they can have, to the music they can listen to.

It can sound challenging, being under someone else's total control like that. However, the parent believes it's in the child's best interest because the parent has already gone through it (or has been raised that way and found it successful- or doesn't know any other way to raise a child). Therefore, they try to ensure the best path the first time (similar to PROmise & PROmote parenting from my previous post). The primary difference between PROmise & PROmote parenting and an authoritarian is that the authoritarian parent will not do anything for the child. Instead, they push them to achieve it independently while demanding excellence, giving the child the tools for problem-solving, overcoming adversity, and quality work ethics as they age. That's the THEory behind it from the parent's perspective- and it's all true!

Unfortunately, the issue with that is yes, the child is learning by doing it; however, it stunts mental, emotional, and social growth. A child needs to be able to explore their likings and preferences to fully nurture them as they grow, which may include, in some instances, situations that the parent may typically say no to. If a parent does not allow their child to explore and enjoy some of their life's little pleasures, it can lead to the child acting out with THEatrics.

The THEatrics are what causes parents and children/teens to butt heads so much. When an adolescent feels as though they have tried hard and accomplished a lot- and continue to try and do for their parents but does not get any reward, specifically something they want to do, it cause the child to act out. When this happens, it is primarily out of spite to attempt to make the parents feel miserable like them.

THEme of problems = answers in THErapy

Most of the time, the THEatrics come in the form of temper tantrums when the child is younger. However, as they grow and reach puberty and teenhood and the parents stand firm in an authoritarian manner, sparks tend to fly more frequently, and outbursts can become more prevalent. It isn't because the teen is trying to irritate their parents purposely; it is more because they lack the mental, emotional, and social necessities that a growing mind needs. blogs | Parenting Series | What THE?

Their minds have been developing and changing since a very young age, and they have been learning, imagining, exploring, and dreaming big the entire time. As time continues, so does the itch to explore the potential of new possibilities. Peers (including other issues such as peer pressure) also contribute to the need to want to fill the void and achieve happiness and excitement. This feeling does not come naturally in authoritarian homes, so teens tend to act out more and clash more than the other three major parental categories.

As friction builds and the teen develops an attitude, parents blame the child, their friends, and their influences. In the eyes of the parent, the child should be perfect because the parents raised them in their image (or at least the best vision they could imagine). Unfortunately, this is not the case because everybody has their tastes, personalities, and preferences. Between this misinformed mindset (in many cases) and the disposition of an authoritarian parent's firmness in situations, it becomes a common THEme for the parent to find fault in the child. Conversely, the child feels the THEme of their relationship is that they are at fault, but only because they cannot fully understand where the parent is coming from.

In a relationship where both parent and child are rather bull-headed regarding their outlook and perspectives on life, THErapy could be required. There are different versions of THErapy, especially since, depending on your background, faith, and beliefs in THErapy, talking with someone may or may not work.

  • Parental Mandate: Parents will take the child to THErapy, even if it's just in hopes the therapist will tell the child the parent is right and they are wrong

  • Child Request: The child/Teen asks for THErapy because they cannot go to anyone for help (one-way communication parent to child) or to ask the therapist for assistance in talking to their parents on their behalf

  • Bonding THErapy: Finding a common fun interest that both the parent and child enjoy, or something nostalgic from happier times, and then taking time to hash issues out

  • Bias THErapy: Talking to someone else, usually another (not immediate) family member, for advice. Considered biased because whoever the "therapist" is, one party or the other will have a prejudiced outcome based on the "therapist's" history with the people or wisdom of situations.

THEft of growth means a rising THErmostat

Nothing cranks up the THErmostat better than constant fighting while one party yells, punishes, or commands the other to do something they do not want. On the flip side, nothing adds to the twist of the dial, making it even hotter than a young teen who has been severely punished and begins to feel like they have lost all they cherish. That becomes a slippery slope because when young teens start not to care about consequences, they understand (or better put: they feel) they have little left to lose. blogs | Parenting Series | What THE?

The parental outlook becomes THEft. The parents take a step back, look at the situation, and believe their child has stolen from them since they are not acting like the child they raised. The parent will begin to feel that all their hard work has been a waste and that their child, who they still love deeply, has stolen their prized sculpture of the "mini-me."

Conversely, the child or teen will look into the parent's eyes and think the same: THEft. They will think, "You stole my childhood from me; I was always doing what you wanted." Even when the child realizes and understands much of what their parents have done for them was in their best interest, at that point, it does not justify not allowing them to live their life the way they wanted to.


In Conclusion

Authoritarian parenting is by far the trickiest of them because of the intricacies of it. An excellent moral system is usually in place, and parenting is typically done in the child's best interest in the long term (prepping them for life/the real world). However, the downfall is not allowing the child to be themselves, stunting personality and emotional growth. The tradeoff is they are now a miniature you, whether they like it or not. Note that "whether they like it or not" is critically dangerous for individuality, self-confidence, and self-worth. Coupled with growing up and frequently clashing, that could be catastrophic if not careful.


Continue Reading: blogs | Parenting Series | HA! HA! HA!

Catch up on the series: blogs | Parenting Series | What Kind R U? blogs | Parenting Series | The Big UNcubed blogs | Parenting Series | The Great PRO³

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