Parenting: Am I doing it right?

By Githashri H

Parenting: Am I doing it right?

The concept of child-rearing is influenced by the development of theoretical frameworks like the attachment theory and social learning theory. These theories highlight the effect parents have on their children’s development. Research has focused on the general roles of parental behavior which is now called parenting styles. The emotional  connection of the parent-child relationship is shaped by factors such as the attitude, goals, and patterns of child-rearing that remain constant across different life events. 

Children must receive a loving, secure, and stimulating environment for their optimal growth and development. Children have their own set of physical, developmental, emotional, and psychosocial needs. The relationship the caregivers share with the children is detrimental to the child’s brain development. It influences the child’s growth across all areas such as physical, social/emotional, language, and cognition. 

The responsibilities of parents doesn’t stop with providing adequate food to eat, a safe place to sleep, and clothes to wear, but also the in-depth and committed relationship the duo share. Effective parenting is defined as the ability of the parents to interact and engage with the children that allows them to learn and grow. It also includes the consistent efforts made by the parents to connect in meaningful ways.  Thus, children of such parents are more likely to not only learn the skills needed to enter adulthood but also have a better understanding of the world and what is expected of them as adults. 

Let’s understand  Parenting theory

Diana Baumrind categorized the parenting styles into authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive parenting. Building on her descriptions, Maccoby and Martin proposed a two dimensional model of parenting style- demandingness and responsiveness. This gave rise to different parenting styles. Demandingness refers to the expectations set by the parents regarding rules and limits to regulate their child’s behavior. Responsiveness, on the other hand, refers to not only the parents’ expression of affection and support but also the involvement and acceptance of their child’s behavior, feelings, and needs. On this basis, the parenting styles are categorized as, 

  1. Authoritative parenting (high demandingness and high responsiveness) 
  2. Authoritarian parenting (high demandingness and low responsiveness) 
  3. Permissive parenting (low demandingness and high responsiveness)
  4. Neglectful parenting (low demandingness and low responsiveness)
 Demandingness
 HighLow
 High Authoritative parenting Permissive parenting
 Low
Authoritarian parenting

Neglectful parenting

Authoritative parenting:

This style of  parenting is nurturing and warm and sets clear expectations regarding their child’s responsibilities. They exert high control over their children while encouraging them to exercise independence and individuality. The parents also recognize the needs of their children and give compliance reasons. Furthermore, they positively communicate and listen to their children and use a reasoning approach for self-regulation. 

Children of these parents are socially active and assertive with friends and their own needs. Along with this, these children are self-reliant individuals who have high self-control and they are very emphatic towards other people. Therefore, they are highly competitive too. 

Authoritarian parenting:

The authoritarian style of parents is not only demanding and strict but also obedience- and status-oriented. The parents use punishment to regulate the behaviors of the children and expect compliance by giving only a few reasons. They also use a power approach and are highly intrusive. The parents exercise high control while providing fewer choices and options for their children. 

Children of such parents are socially less skilled with friends and can be bullies. Furthermore, they are emotionally fearful, angry, and hostile under stress while apprehensive about tasks. But are academically very competitive and take school seriously. 

Permissive parenting:

These parents are very nurturing and warm yet, makes few maturing demands and exerts little control. They are non-traditional and lenient while allowing considerable self-regulation to the children. The children are not expected to comply and are given much permission for expression. The parents use a powerless approach and avoid asserting authority. 

Children of permissive parents exhibit low impulse control socially and act on their self-interest. They emotionally aloof themselves while having low self-control and self-reliance. The children are less competent academically and are less serious about school. 

Neglectful parenting:

Neglectful parents to a greater extent do not discipline or guide their children, do not nurture or interact with them. They do not respond to the children’s expression of needs and use a hands-off approach. They also may be unavailable to the emotional needs of their children either because of their problems, immaturity, or substance abuse. Children of neglectful parents possess poor social skills and are less interested in making friends with others. They have low self-control and self-reliance. These children are the least competent and perform poorly in school. 

  The authoritative style of parenting is recognized as the ideal style of parenting that leads to positive outcomes in children which includes sound emotional health, social skills, better resilience, and secure attachments with parents. 

So, how can you be a better parent?

Among the many well-identified practices, the ones mentioned below are few that can help parents establish healthy parenting practices with their children. 

  • Better communication:

Communication does not only mean effectively expressing needs and expectations but also listening to comprehend. Encourage the children to express themselves freely and reinforce the efforts made in the process. 

  • Discipline not punishment:

Discipline is a way of teaching children their responsibilities and acceptable behaviors. On the other hand, punishment is a technique used to negatively reinforce an unacceptable behavior so that the child doesn’t exhibit such behaviors. Children are more likely to change their behavior when they are explained the reason behind their need to comply.

  • Separate the child from his behavior:

The child and his behaviors are to be looked at independently because his behaviors can be classified as good or bad but not himself. It affects the child’s self-esteem when they are looked at as the same. Communicate the behavior that needs to be amended and not label the child negatively. 

  • Spend quality time with children:

Spending quality time with children helps them appreciate the attention and time given. This allows little room for the children to misbehave. When parents bring their work stress home, they are more likely to be less tolerant and have a higher tendency to argue with children. Spending time with children also permits them to learn new skills like problem solving, decision making, and logical thinking that they learn vicariously through observation. 

  • Actions are better than words:

Parents who give multiple commands and instructions can come across as nagging or yelling. This does not motivate children to comply, all the more if these are activities parents want their children to fulfill. Instigating the need for the child to perform the tasks can help the parents get their children to finish those same tasks. By taking the side of the children, the parents can talk about the advantages and disadvantages of completing the task which allows the children to see things more clearly. 

Parenting plays a very important role in the life of children. With appropriate love and support, children become productive members of society and develop necessary skills to face life and its challenges. The use of effective parenting style and practices allows children to know what to expect out of life and how to deal with the ups and downs faced by them. Trust, honesty, and communication are important elements for successful parenting which allows the children to be more responsible and mature.