Are you being Perfect Parent for the Child or the Society?
Parenting, going by the definition, is the process of child rearing to promote the development of your child from early infancy until adulthood. This involves “supporting” the physical, emotional, social and intellectual development of the child all of which together comprises of the overall growth of the child. But, reality of parenting is not at easy as the definition makes it sound like. Parenting is one of the biggest responsibilities of this planet. The idea of parenting is not to raise our children to make carbon copies of ourselves, but to raise individuals that grow up having the capability to discover who they are, to have opinions, to think critically, to be able to make their decisions, to be kind to people.
Parenting is less about “what” we do for our kids, and more about “How” we do it for them.
The most difficult aspect of this everlasting process is to have the awareness that as parents, we cannot always provide support in the way we want to, but it should be provided in the way required by the situation or the child. Finding the right balance at every step is what makes it exhausting, yet worth every effort. This where our collectivist society is running behind.
Most of us our grown up in co-dependent families with enmeshed boundaries. It’s high time we realise, learn and seek awareness of the fact that we do not have to parent our children the way we were parented. Aware and Conscious parenting is how we can break this cycle of self-betraying, co-dependent and sacrificing attitudes.
To understand it better, following information may help you identify your parenting style.
Diana Baumrind in 1967 put forward a pillar theory of different parenting styles based on 2 dimensions- Control and Warmth, divided into 4 different characteristics. These were demanding vs. undemanding and responsive vs. unresponsive.
The three parenting styles thus were proposed by her based on the presence or absence of these characteristics: Authoritative, Authoritarian and Permissive. Later on, Maccoby (in 1983) and Martin expanded on this theory and added a fourth parenting style: Neglectful. These are shown in the following table:
Authoritarian parenting is the parenting style, which is characterized by high demands and low responsiveness. In this case the child is given no autonomy of behaviour or decisions. Such parents are extremely strict and expect their child to obey the orders, meanwhile providing no reason for the same. This is also a punishment heavy style to control child’s behaviour. The child is not allowed to make his own choices but, forced to follow the choices made for him by the parent. The classic Indian example of “comparing your child with Sharma Ji’s son” belongs to this parenting attitude. This style of parenting focuses on role as a parent, rather than relationship with the child. These parents lack emotional involvement and are insensitive towards their child’s needs and desires. This style is more of narcissistic in nature and gives rise to avoidant or anxious attachment style in the child.
Example: Virus from movie 3 Idiots, Nandkishor Awasthi from Taare Zameen Par, Brihmohan Sahni from Tamasha
Message delivered from this style: I am elder to you, so you have to do as I say.
Message received by the child: I need tokeep my parents happy at all costs.
Permissive parenting is the style, which is characterized by high responsiveness, and low demands. In this the parent is highly involved in the life of the child but does not put behavioural demands on the child. The child is helped as a friend by the parent, and is allowed to make decisions on his own. There is little to no punishment or behavioural tracking of the child. In short, this style completely focuses on relationship and not the role as a parent. The child may not learn to be responsible and may not be able to become emotionally and mentally mature as demanded by the age. Basically, this style refers to ultra-pampered one. These kinds of parents are too scared to say no to their child so as to not upset them. And, in the process, the child may lack to build any strong sense of discipline, may not be able to adjust with superior behaviour of adult figures (teachers, relatives, boss) in the outside world, may not learn to take “No” for an answer. They don’t grasp the sense of right and wrong. They may develop risk-prone temperament, be rebellious. Through this parenting style they learn to become independent without responsibility and boundaries.
Example: Dharamvir Malhotra (Anupam Kher) in DDLJ, Sam Talwar (Amitabh Bachchan) from Kabhi Alvida na kehna
Message delivered from this style: Your life is your own, do whatever with it. You are the boss.
Message received by the child: I can do anything I want or like, I rule my world.
Neglectful parenting is characterized by low responsiveness and low demands from the child. Such parents are mostly either completely or majorly absent from the child’s life. They have little to no response to child’s needs. They also have little emotional involvement or warmth with the child. They might even avoid or reject the child. It gives rise to disorganised parenting style. This style develops disorganised pattern of attachment in the child. These parents are basically uninvolved. Here, children will lack in learning any sense of love, trust, safety, acceptance and relationships.
Message delivered from this style: I can’t love you or take care of you. You are on your own.
Message received by the child: I am not worthy of love. I feel unsafe. I can’t trust anyone.
Authoritative style of parenting is described as the “just right” type of parenting. This involves an optimal amount of demands and responsiveness to the child’s needs. These parents often use reinforcement more than punishment as teaching methods. Such parents expect maturity from the child. They place limitations on the child, simultaneously allowing independence. This allows the child to develop autonomy. If giving punishment the reason is clearly stated and is consistent. This allows child to become generous and self-determined. The child receives enough warmth and support to feel safe and loved and enough authority to learn responsibility and freedom. It gives rise to secure attachment style in children. This type of parenting is mindful and connected. The parents create a balance between both “role” and the “relationship”. Rules are imposed by taking child’s feelings into consideration. The child learns to take rejection. Here, boundaries are not enmeshed.
Message delivered from this style: You are safe with us, we love you. Let’s talk about it.
Message received by the child: I belong here. This is my Home.
Example: Vidya Balan from Paa
It’s high time we break the myth that there is no such thing as perfect parents or perfect child. We as parents could only do enough from what we have been taught and know. But, with little awareness and psycho-education one can learn to find a balance in their efforts. The idea is to accept that this journey will be full of mistakes and errors. So let’s allow ourselves some compassion as parents and to our children, that all of us will be making mistakes, and may cause a little hurt in the process, which is also normal. Let’s direct our parental efforts from “reacting” towards “repairing”.
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