Is Dad Too Overbearing? How It Can Affect the Long Term Child/Parent Relationship


There are many different parenting styles. There’s the parent who lets their children raise themselves. They’re too permissive, and the child has no direction or structure. There’s also what’s commonly called an overbearing parent. Psychologists call this the “Authoritarian” parenting style, and it can have a negative long-term impact on your relationship with your child.

Characteristics of an Overbearing Dad

You might be an overbearing dad if…

  • You have overly strict rules. Your children must follow orders, no questions asked.
  • You aren’t nurturing. You don’t routinely hug your children or show them physical affection.
  • You consider yourself to be strong-willed.
  • You’re determined to take control of your child’s life so they don’t mess it up.
  • You don’t take time to give children choices or options. Instead, you tell them what they have to do. If they don’t do it, you don’t embrace natural consequences but instead punish the child.
  • You have high expectations and when those expectations aren’t met your child knows that they’re in trouble.
  • Overbearing fathers may feel as if they’re protecting their children. However, the truth is that they’re limiting children from exploring and experiencing their world.
  • Overbearing fathers often make children feel afraid. Instead of feeling secure and trusting that they have a dad to take care of them, a child feels as if dad is a threat.

The Long-Term Ramifications

There are many unhappy long-term results from being an overbearing dad. If during early childhood development, a child is unable to explore their world and make mistakes, they don’t learn to trust themselves. They feel inadequate, and their self-esteem is negatively impacted. This can be difficult for children to recover from even if they have healthier relationships later on.

See related: Guidelines for Parent/Child Communication 

Children also learn not to trust an overbearing father. Rather than being someone they feel they can depend on, dad becomes someone they avoid and feel fearful of when spending time together. The parent-child relationship is an important one, and when a child avoids one parent, it can be difficult to repair. Adolescents are particularly vulnerable to overbearing parents, and the results can be tragic.

The teen years are a time of rebellion and adolescents with overbearing fathers may engage in even more risky behaviors than average adolescents. As dad increases the discipline in response to the child’s behavior, the child escalates the behavior. Conversely, some adolescents become submissive and stop trying to make decisions for themselves. Instead, they follow the crowd and can get themselves into abusive relationships.

There’s no positive side to being an overbearing parent. If you relate to any of the signs, take a step back. You can guide and protect your child without being a dictator.