Parenting matters

Sep 3, 2020

“Children are NOT a distraction from more important work. They are THE MOST important work.”

-C.S. Lewis

Parenting these days is a far more challenging task than it was ever before. The question that plagues young parents the most is, which is the best style? Whatever style of parenting one adopts it will have an impact on the child’s overall development.

There are four major parenting styles and each parent uses one or the other, based on the situation. Usually, one of them becomes their dominant parenting style. These can be loosely categorized into the following.

Authoritarian: In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents and failure to follow the rules usually results in punishment.

Authoritative: These parents establish rules and guidelines that their children are expected to follow but they explain the reasons for laying them down. When children fail to meet expectations, they are nurturing and forgiving rather than meting out punishment.

Permissive: Here, parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend than that of a parent. Sometimes disciplinary measures are not implemented.

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Uninvolved:  These parents fulfil the child's basic needs but are generally detached from their child's life.

Now the question is which one is the best? Parenting styles are interconnected with different behavioural outcomes; the authoritative style is mostly linked to positive behaviours such as strong self-esteem and competence. Nevertheless, important aspects including cultural influences, children's perceptions of parental treatment, and social norms also play a key role in a child's behaviour. Parenting methods also combine to create a unique blend in each family.

One’s most important role as a parent is to make them confident, well-adjusted, and capable adults who are comfortable in their own skins. Good parenting does not involve keeping them happy always; it includes making them resilient and self-reliant with the ability to cope with adversities that are a part of life. Being overprotective or taking an excessive interest in a child’s life can lead to a lack of confidence. If a child is kept away from all adversities which are an unavoidable part of growing up, he/she will not learn to deal with situations that are not always pleasant. Be there to support and help them cope but do not provide easy ways out or bail them out of sticky situations. They must learn to face the consequences of their own actions; it will be difficult for them to function independently as adults otherwise.

While shaping children’s characters, it is essential to define boundaries clearly before enforcing them; the child should know what is expected of him before being held responsible for his/her behaviour. Unconditional positive regard and love towards them keep them bonded. Children should be assured of parental love and care regardless of their behaviour. Being involved in their lives, spending time with them, asking them how their day was and sharing experiences enhance the parent-child relationship.

Remember, children need your presence more than your presents.

A hugely important aspect of positive parenting along with involvement is acceptance. Accepting the child for who he/she is, is very essential and it will go a long way in developing and strengthening their sense of self.

Behind every child who believes in oneself is a parent who believed in themself first.

Happy parenting!

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Shivani Wadhwa

Shivani Wadhwa is the Founder of Samarthya: Nurture a better you. She is a counselling psychologist, remedial therapist and a Trainer by profession.