Abusive Parents vs. Strict Parents

What's the Difference?

Abusive parents and strict parents may both exhibit controlling behavior, but the key difference lies in their intentions and methods. Abusive parents use physical, emotional, or verbal abuse to maintain power and control over their children, often causing lasting psychological harm. On the other hand, strict parents enforce rules and boundaries in a consistent and firm manner, with the goal of teaching discipline and responsibility. While both types of parents may have high expectations for their children, abusive parents use fear and intimidation to achieve compliance, while strict parents use structure and guidance. Ultimately, abusive parents harm their children, while strict parents aim to nurture and support them.


AttributeAbusive ParentsStrict Parents
DisciplineExcessive and harmful punishmentFirm but fair discipline
CommunicationLack of open communicationClear communication of expectations
Emotional SupportLack of emotional supportEmotional support provided
RespectLack of respect for child's boundariesRespect for child's boundaries
ControlExcessive control over child's lifeControl with guidance and reasoning

Further Detail

Definition of Abusive Parents

Abusive parents are individuals who physically, emotionally, or mentally harm their children. This type of parenting is characterized by a pattern of behavior that seeks to control, manipulate, or dominate the child through fear and intimidation. Abusive parents often use violence, threats, or verbal abuse to maintain power and control over their children.

Definition of Strict Parents

Strict parents, on the other hand, are individuals who set high standards and expectations for their children. They enforce rules and boundaries to ensure discipline and order in the household. Strict parents believe in teaching their children the importance of responsibility, respect, and hard work through consistent discipline and guidance.

Parenting Style

Abusive parents tend to have a authoritarian parenting style, where they demand obedience and compliance from their children without considering their feelings or needs. They use fear and intimidation to maintain control over their children, often resorting to physical or emotional abuse to enforce their rules. Strict parents, on the other hand, have an authoritative parenting style, where they set clear expectations and boundaries for their children while also being responsive to their emotional needs. They believe in open communication and mutual respect in the parent-child relationship.


Abusive parents often use communication as a tool for manipulation and control. They may use threats, insults, or belittling language to assert their authority over their children. Communication in abusive households is often one-sided, with the parent dictating the rules and expectations without considering the child's perspective. Strict parents, on the other hand, believe in open and honest communication with their children. They encourage dialogue and discussion, allowing their children to express their thoughts and feelings while also setting clear boundaries and expectations.


Abusive parents use discipline as a means of punishment and control. They may resort to physical or emotional abuse to enforce their rules and maintain power over their children. Discipline in abusive households is often harsh and punitive, with little regard for the child's well-being. Strict parents, on the other hand, use discipline as a tool for teaching and guidance. They set clear rules and consequences for their children's behavior, but they also provide support and encouragement to help their children learn from their mistakes and grow as individuals.

Impact on Children

Children raised by abusive parents often suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. They may have difficulty forming healthy relationships and trusting others due to the trauma they experienced in childhood. The long-term effects of abuse can be devastating, leading to a cycle of violence and dysfunction in future generations. Children raised by strict parents, on the other hand, tend to be more disciplined, responsible, and respectful. They learn the value of hard work and perseverance, and they are better equipped to handle challenges and setbacks in life.


While both abusive parents and strict parents seek to instill discipline and order in their children's lives, the methods they use and the impact on their children are vastly different. Abusive parents rely on fear and intimidation to control their children, leading to long-term emotional and psychological damage. Strict parents, on the other hand, use clear rules and boundaries to teach their children the importance of responsibility and respect. It is important for parents to recognize the difference between being strict and being abusive, and to strive for a parenting style that is firm but also loving and supportive.

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