Parenting is a complex, ongoing process affecting children’s ideologies and values. The child’s adaptation to his socio-political environment is reflective of the parental nuances that he was exposed to as a child and as a young adult.
All people differ in their methodology of parenting. While there are subtle variations and differences, there are four marked distinctive styles of parenting which have been observed over the years by psychologists.
In the 1960’s a psychologist by the name of Diana Baumrind conducted a study on 100 pre-school children. Through the process of naturalistic observation she postulated four basic parental styles. They differ tremendously on four different areas mainly – communication, discipline strategies, expectations of maturity from the child and care giving. Majority of the parents display one of the four styles of parenting.
This is by far the most favoured and successful style of parenting. The steering wheel is in the hands of the child while parents have access to the brakes. With bumpy turns and risks, the child decides the course of action that is to be taken. The parents are there to offer their full fledged support, should the child call in for help. The parents set some minimum standards of discipline, code of conduct and ethics.
The child is given a free hand in decision making but is however taught to be accountable for his own actions. The love and care is given without jeopardizing the child’s ability to think independently and rationally. Communication lines are open and children are given clear reasons behind do’s and don’ts. Disciplinary methods are supportive rather than punitive. The children often grow up to be happy, assertive, confident and mature.
In this style the parents are the sole decision makers. The child is expected to unconditionally obey, no questions asked. Communication is rigid with little or no flexibility to ask questions. Parents don’t feel the need to give an explanation or justify. Obedience is non-negotiable and punishment is severe often ranging from corporal punishment to time outs. This style of parenting curbs creativity and the freedom of thinking independently. Children grow up to be perfectionists and prodigal thinkers but tend to be rigid, inflexible and controlling. They may also lack self-esteem.
This sort of parenting deviates to the opposite extreme from an authoritarian parenting style. There are no rules, regulations and zero discipline. The child has complete freedom to do what he wants. These parents are likely to hand over the car keys even before the child has learnt to drive. Communication channels are open and the parents are more like friends to their children. This style of parenting has its own share of pitfalls and gives rise to pleasure seeking, over-indulged children who have little regard and respect for authority. They lack self-discipline and goal seeking behavior. On the rare occasions that the parents assert themselves, children don’t take their views seriously.
These parents have a total lack of concern for their child. They may carry on with their lives in exclusivity to what the child may be thinking or doing. As long as the child’s basic needs are met their job is done. There are no discipline strategies and a stark indifference is apparent in the areas of giving and receiving love. The parents are so uninvolved that they may not realize that something is amiss. The child grows up feeling confused, aimless, neglected and unimportant. They may also grapple with self esteem issues.
For best results Baumrind recommended that parents adapt a combination of 3-4 different parenting styles. Such a situation works best in imparting the right upbringing to a child.
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