If you grew up in a home where your parents ruled the roost with an iron fist, you may look back at it with a mixture of indignation and respect. Strict parents are usually authoritarian and show little warmth and affection, which is probably the one thing you wanted from them most of all.
Maybe your strict parents would be surprised and a little uneasy about research published in the University of New Hampshire, which claims that authoritarian parenting often results in delinquent behavior such as stealing and substance abuse.
Looking back on your own childhood, you see both the negative and positive effects of strict parenting. The question is, will you do it differently when you raise your own children?
Here are 10 things your strict parents may have done.
1. They always regarded sleepovers with deep suspicion
As soon as the word sleepover was mentioned, all sorts of scary scenarios used to play out in their minds. If your parents were overly strict, this was a definite no-no. Even less strict parents made endless phone calls to your friends’ parents about the arrangements to be made. These parents had to be vetted. Even though you know they had your safety in mind as their top priority, you despised having to tell your best friend that you were forbidden to attend a totally harmless sleepover.
2. They thought academic success was very important
One of the great advantages of strict parents is that they wanted you to do your best and be successful in life. They pushed you hard, made sure that your homework was always done, and forbade you from taking shortcuts. These principles have stood you in good stead, because you know that hard work pays handsome dividends and that you now have enough self-discipline to meet life’s stiffest challenges.
In fact, it seems that Asian and Chinese children do better academically due to an authoritarian style of parenting. They also scored higher on self-esteem than their American counterparts. It looks as if insistence on homework being done can be beneficial.
3. They constantly criticized you
Strict parents tend to be harsh with their criticism. As a youngster, you probably had to put up with complaints about your room, your untidiness, your laziness, your lack of character, your sloppiness, and your wastefulness. This also usually extended to cover your hair, clothes, friends, and tastes in music. Rather than encouraging you improve yourself, however, it only encouraged you to hide things from your parents. The clothes you had dared to buy in the mall were always carefully hidden, and you swore your parents would never, ever find your hidden stash of forbidden video games and movies. Strict parents want their kids to be well-mannered, but you always thought they went too far!
4. They set very clear limits and boundaries
One good thing about your authoritarian parents was that you always knew the difference between right and wrong. You learned about the values of honesty, thrift, and hard work. You were lectured about self-control. This was a great advantage when it came to resisting peer pressure at school and avoiding risky behavior in college. Because your parents always made sure you faced the consequences of your actions, you grew up understanding the risks of impulsive behavior.
5. They gave you practically no freedom at all
You were driven everywhere – to school, to movies, and even to parties (the ones they let you attend, anyway). Your friends envied your attentive parents, but you would have preferred to bike or walk everywhere if given the chance. If your parents actually let you have a cell phone, they called you at all times of the day wanting to know where you were and what time you would be back. My brother hated these questions and always replied, “At half past!” You became adept at erasing your phone history and were extra careful about hiding your tracks, constructing stories that wouldn’t backfire and establishing alibis everywhere you went. It was exhausting.
6. They rarely intervened to help you or defend you
There was no helicopter parenting in your house. It was unthinkable that your mom would rush to your defense when you had a problem with your teacher, or storm into the coach’s office when you didn’t make the swimming team. Autonomy was your only choice, and that meant solving your own problems, often completely alone. There was no way to ask your parents for help because they would only blame you, punish you, and criticize you all the more. This was somewhat of a blessing, however, because you are now completely independent, and you never play the blame-game at work because you were never entitled as a child.
7. They ruined your fun with a very tight curfew
When you were finally allowed to go to parties or hang out with friends, your parents imposed a very tight curfew that often made you miss out on the best part of the evening. Getting garbled, second-hand versions from your buddies the next day wasn’t much consolation, either. You often wondered why curfews mattered so much, because bad things can happen to you at anytime, even in the afternoon!
8. They taught you the value of money
Doing chores, sometimes earning a little money from them, was an important part of your upbringing because it taught you the value of money. Because of your parents’ emphasis on hard work and earning money, you knew how to save up for an important event and learned the basics of budgeting and financial management. You never counted on waiting around for gifts, and if a toy broke, there was no rushing out to buy a new one.
There are moderate approaches to everything in life, and that includes parenting. Kids who were brought up by overly permissive parents tend to be slackers, because they were never expected to work hard. They were overprotected and have none of the skills that help people survive in the adult world. Kids who had strict parents, on the other hand, had little freedom, were constantly watched and criticized, and were rarely encouraged or praised. The best solution is to adopt an authoritative parenting attitude where clear limits are set, but allows parents to love, support, encourage, discuss, and help out without being too protective.
Featured photo credit: homework/Bjorn Bulthuis via flickr.com