Parenting Styles: What Parents Should Know About Them
Research shows that parenting is a dynamic process that contributes heavily to childhood psychopathology and child development. In other words, this is to say that the parenting style you choose determines your child’s outcome.
But because of cultural diversity and plurality in many societies worldwide, parenting styles differ. For example, heterogeneity is a prominent feature of India’s social reality. It means, therefore, that child-rearing in the country is also diverse.
How do we define parenting style?
The concept of parenting style is as old as humanity, but it was not until the early 1990s that it received serious intellectual attention. Diane Baumrind, a developmental and clinical psychologist and researcher, introduced academic rigour into the subject in a 1991 paper.
She defined parenting style as the standard strategy that parents utilize when raising their children.
Although the paper focused more on the correlation between adolescent competence and child-rearing strategies, Baumrind used the opportunity to categorize the strategies into four primary classes:
Authoritative parenting style
It entails parents enforcing specific limits, including encouraging them to be responsible and to think for themselves. But, at the same time, the parents are sensitive and responsive towards the young ones.
Also called the “tender teacher” approach, many western cultures consider this parenting style as optimal. As a result, the kids raised this way are often more capable, happier, and successful in adulthood.
And yet, authoritative parenting could develop a child into a rebellious teenager. Rebellion is a natural reaction that calls for more patience for parents. Also, this approach is lengthy and more challenging to implement. Again, patience and the ability to learn on the job are invaluable.
Authoritarian parenting style
One might easily confuse authoritarianism and authoritativeness, but the two concepts couldn’t be more different. Notably, the former refers to rigid rulers or strict disciplinarians.
But a strict disciplinarian isn’t always supportive. For instance, such a parent will demand absolute and unquestioning obedience from the child. Parents will often hand down orders without explanation, simply because they are in charge.
Moreover, authoritarian parents lay down guidelines to which the child must adhere. According to this parenting approach’s advocates, children who grow up in such an environment become obedient and law-abiding.
On the flip side, this child-rearing approach often undermines the children’s social competence, self-esteem, and general happiness.
Indulgent/Permissive/Easy-going parenting style
Then there are those parents who prefer maximum freedom for the kids. Here, the parent does not set limits, and the child is free to do what they feel like any time.
The ultimate of this parenting approach is to keep the child happy at all times, and researchers argue that it promotes psychological development.
Although permissive parents are warm and responsive to their children, the lack of enforcing standards of behaviour could be counterintuitive. For example, a child reared under this approach could develop behaviour problems that could undermine competency in many areas later in life.
Non-indulgent/Uninvolved parenting style
Like permissive parenting, this approach gives free rein to the child but without a robust support system.
Parents who rear children in this way do not enforce limits or even communicate structure and expectations. In turn, the child has to adapt and develop independently, whereby the parent will never explain the concept of good or bad or teach the difference. In other words, one assumes the child is capable of rational thought.
For researchers, uninvolved parenting lacks any upside. Instead, it leads to a poor parent/child bond. In addition, because of poor communication (or lack thereof), the child cannot develop strong associations with the family.
Popular parenting styles in India
Like earlier mentioned, India is a profoundly heterogeneous society in all conceivable dimensions. However, many people subscribe to traditional parenting, where generational wisdom, life experiences, and religious and cultural values shape the child-rearing process.
To many Indians, the family is the cornerstone of identity; a child’s identification stems from their family, the father, and forbears.
To instil the sense of familial self, most parents subscribe to the authoritative style of parenting. Thus, for example, the parents demand that the children obey family values and maintain personal chastity.
At the same time, the parents expose the children to the extended family that provides a supportive environment. Specifically, the children are encouraged to work towards interdependence and deference to authority.
When people come together to start a family, they often have particular goals for every aspect of their lives. For the children, the parents hope to raise responsible adults who will take care of them when they grow old.
However, the preferred approach to parenting often varies. In this light, one needs to know if the parenting style is working. One way to know is by watching the child’s behaviour as they grow. Does the child exhibit the values you hoped to have instilled?