The Greek philosopher Plato had said that the upbringing of a child should start before his birth. Although he primarily focused on prenatal gymnastics, a specific component of it pointed towards parenting education. Children feel comfortable when parents exhibit confidence, which gives them a feeling of being in safe hands. Anxiety and insecurity brings discomfort in the relationship, which is damaging for a smooth parenting process. Most parenting experts and family counsellors believe that the parenting style chosen affects the child’s behaviour and performance in all aspects.
Most young parents are often clueless about parenting issues, especially when there are no elders to guide them. Often there are diametrically opposite opinions about parenting styles to be followed, be it exclusive or mixed.
Hence, it becomes interesting to segregate different parenting styles and investigate a chosen style’s suitability in obtaining the desired result. The extent of adoption of these styles varies between different ethnic and socio-economical groups. Some prominent parenting styles are assertive, adjustive, indifferent and balanced.
It was a popular style in the last few decades. It is characterised by more emphasis on discipline with utter disregard for any flexibility. Rules of discipline are often left unexplained with absolutely no scope for the child to discuss it with parents. This style is often the reason for friction within the family.
With society’s development and a more communicative school curriculum, every child wants to communicate more often with the parents. Most of the time, children express a desire to know the reasons for disciplinary rules and related expectations. Children from these families often fear authority and lack self-confidence. They end up being a cog in the system devoid of any initiative or independent thinking. Whenever put in a challenging situation, they take time to gather strength and produce tangible results.
These styles are highly popular and are often recommended by parenting experts. Their essence is freedom of communication, which results in developing a reason-based thought process. It adds to children’s self-confidence, which gets reflected in every stage of their career. Children from these families take authority as their friends who are there to help him. Hence, there is no fear of authority. These kids exhibit self-starter’s behaviour, boom confidently, and are out to achieve anything. They are not shy of taking risks and exhibiting initiative, when necessary. Children brought up with this style are often seen questioning doctors in a diagnosis appointment or interacting with a cop or fireman with relative ease.
This style is relatively less chosen. Here parents generally remain uninvolved with a child’s upbringing due to many reasons. It is common in families who are either super-rich or very poor. It is seen that parents are so much immersed in their professional routine that they have no time to look at their kids’ upbringing. Many times parents also remain aloof as they are not sure of their responsibilities in proper upbringing.
Children brought up with this style are very independent and strong-headed. They show resistance to any change, both in personal and professional life. Hence, they often result in being called “uncoachable,” and so are a misfit for any organisation. Their personality shows some misadjustment in behaviour patterns as well as in discipline building.
This approach involves taking a judicious mix of all the above-mentioned styles. Many times the situation is the boss. Hence, the style adopted is in line with the situation. Results obtained with this approach are often not well defined. However, it is still the most widely accepted style.
Most parents agree that it is always better to train for an independent existence, but with proper monitoring. It is better if one of the parents adopts a given style and another one a different one to ensure a proper mix. These roles can also be reversed between parents depending on the situation.
Parenting becomes a challenge in complex situations and requires out-of-the-box solutions. An example of a possible complicated situation can be of parenting as a single parent. Here the solution has to be different. Any adopted style has to be on the foundation of specific necessary measures. These measures are essential for getting the desired results.
In families, which have experienced divorce, the child must not be allowed to have any negative feelings about the other parent. Similarly, in families where one parent is mostly out of town because of work, the child must understand the importance of this sacrifice. It will help the child develop the importance of having a complete family. This thought process will eventually pass to the next generation.
It is essential to spend as much time as possible with the child physically. It can be playing physical sports or any other joint activity such as cooking in the kitchen. Joint activity helps in the processing of emotions of a child. A feeling of belongingness to the family gets imbibed as well. A gradual delegation of responsibilities is also essential. It helps in relieving some stress of single-parent plus the child also remains within a disciplined routine. There is no reason for having a child develop irresponsible behaviour just for being with a single parent.
Equally complicated is the situation where children have to be brought up by their grandparents. Grandchildren should never be allowed to have a feeling that they can get away with their grandparents. Like the immediate children, they should have structured lives with discipline. Therefore, grandparents should exercise their authority as and when required.
Parents should be clear about their child’s life milestones and desired results. The child’s personality must be compatible with the chosen parenting style. External advice is helpful, but parents should finally decide as they are better aware of the child’s temperament, neighbourhood, and school environment.
Parenting does become a challenge when a child is in teens. Hence, external advice can be explored, if required. Knowledge about parenting styles is helpful as it makes parents more involved and accountable. Discussion with other parents is also helpful and reassuring. Children are the most significant asset for any family. Hence, it becomes necessary that no stone is left unturned in their upbringing.
(The author is a finance professional based in Toronto)