A recent study linking authoritarian parents to child obesity kind of blows my mind. I was raised by a more authoritarian stepdad, so I’m definitely not a fan of the parenting style. Now I’m feeling all smug about it because being more relaxed with your kids has been proven to be beneficial to their physical health.
According to Today.com:
Among children aged 6 to 11, having an authoritarian parent — one who is demanding and quick to punish, but not nurturing or emotionally responsive — increased the risk of obesity by 37 percent, according to a study presented at an American Heart Association meeting Wednesday.
“When we’re born, we come equipped with our own self-regulation,” said Lisa Kakinami, lead author and a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University. “But authoritarian parents override that. They take away the child’s own ability to regulate themselves.”
The study author’s explanation on self-regulation is so intriguing to me. We all want to help our kids and teach them how to grow into successful adults, I assume. It’s interesting to hear that kids do have the ability to self-regulate; being overbearing and unnecessarily strict takes away from that innate ability. I didn’t know that before reading this study.
Here is a little more on authoritarian parenting to paint a clearer picture for you:
The overly controlling approach — such as denying kids any sugar at all — can backfire when kids are beyond their parents’ reach, experts say. As a result, kids won’t learn how to listen to their own bodies and know when they are hungry or full.
“When parents talk in a harsh and punitive manner, kids sometimes fight with them through food,” which can lead to overeating, said Patrick H. Tolan, a professor at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia and director of Youth-Nex, the UVA Center to Promote Effective Youth Development.
The more I read about authoritarian parenting, coupled with my own experience as a kid, the more I dislike it. Authoritarian parents described in this article lay down the law without explaining or even getting to know their individual child.
This study only highlights how it affects a child’s ability to moderate food, leading to child obesity. I think it’s safe to say that this can apply to food and personal health, as well as many other areas of a kid’s life. If you are parenting a kid with inflexible rules and a lack of love, you’re depriving them of self-confidence, esteem, and independent thinking.
How about this? Ditch the authoritarian mentality and don’t be a jerk to your kids—for the sake of their health.