Parenting is the activity of bringing up a child as a parent. It comes with a lot of responsibilities and complex decision-making. It aims at a child’s physical, social, and intellectual development until adulthood.
Parenting does have to be necessarily done by the biological parents. An older sibling, a stepparent, a grandparent, a legal guardian, an aunt/uncle, other relatives, or a family friend can do the parenting job. The society also has a role in parenting a child, especially orphaned or abandoned children.
Parenting styles consist of the methods that the parents or institutions use to raise a child. The styles vary on what the parents think is the best for their children. As the child grows, the parenting styles change. The parents create their parenting styles by trying to adapt to the child’s behaviour and personality.
There are four main parenting styles; authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent/permissive, and neglectful/uninvolved.
The Authoritative parenting style is democratic and is considered the most effective one. The parents are demanding and responsive. They understand their children’s feelings and teach them how to channel them. They are involved in their children’s lives, help them solve problems and encourage them to be independent and forgiving. Support, love, and fair discipline are given to the children.
The features of the authoritative style are that the parents set fair and consistent discipline and allow their children to express their opinions and emotions. No order is given, and the children are allowed to discuss alternatives. The parents usually express their love and warmth. They encourage the children to develop a sense of independence and reasoning. There is mutual understanding between the parent and the child. The parents usually place limits and make the children understand the consequences of their actions, whether good or bad.
Children raised with the authoritative parenting styles become mature, autonomous, self-reliant, and respectful. Most of them thrive in society because they learn how to behave well, are independent, learn values, and respect others.
The parents are full-on rules but show almost no love and warmth. The child is expected to follow a strict set of rules with little to no explanation or feedback. The parents base their household on obedience and punishments.
The Authoritarian parenting style is known for its saying, “Because I said so”. When the child makes a mistake, the parents are quick to react with usually harsh words and punishments. The child is not taught how to make better decisions, but the parents make them feel sorry for their mistakes.
The punishments include corporal ones, usually spanking. There is no explanation of what the children did wrong and why. Contrary to the authoritative parenting style, there is no lesson learned, only that the child should obey or face the consequences. There is no room for negotiation. Also, there is almost no communication, and the few ones are only from the parent to the child.
Although the authoritarian parenting style introduces rules and boundaries to children, studies showed that this parenting style lacks the love, warmth, and nurture that the children need to succeed. While the child is obedient and tends to follow the rules, they may experience consistent sadness, self-esteem problems, depression, aggressive behaviour, and the use of lies to avoid punishment.
The parents provide love and warmth but no discipline. It is an anti-authoritarian style. The parents are involved in the life of their children but place little control over them. They usually feel like they must be their children’s friends and not their parents. They fulfil their children’s needs and wishes by giving them whatever they want. They feel like they are compensating for what they missed during their childhood.
They usually have low expectations for the child and give them no structure. They allow the children to make their own decisions and make no effort to discourage poor decision-making and wrong behaviour.
This style often results in the child struggling academically and having health problems such as obesity since the parents encourage eating fast food to make their children happy. Although the child grows to be emotionally secure, independent, and mature, they lack essential life skills. As they had no boundaries during their childhood, they think that there is no limit to what they can do, and it often results in drug and alcohol abuse and lack of control.
The uninvolved/ neglectful parenting style is neither responsive nor demanding. The parents allow the children to do whatever they please. They are often unaware or indifferent to what their kids are doing, where they are, and with whom. They have almost no place or intention to be involved in their children’s lives. There are no rules set and almost no communication. Also, there are no activities performed together as a family.
They offer no guidance or attention to the children, expecting them to raise themselves. However, some cases are not intentional. Some parents are already overwhelmed by health problems or work, preventing them from being proper parents. Children from neglectful households are sad, lonely, immature, and often in abusive relationships.
Overall, each parent has their parenting style, and there can even be a mix of the different types. A parent must always have their child’s best interest at heart and should cater to all their needs and, if possible, their wants. Parenting will define the child’s future, and the styles will determine its behaviour.
Ingrid Roussel, YUVA Intern