Peppered with tantrums, meltdowns and difficult days, parenting is no walk in the park! However, it’s the only relationship where no matter how steep the climb, the love for your little troublemaker only grows stronger.
As you nurture this relationship, we want to help you explore a key aspect that developmental psychologists and child experts claim to be “the” thing that affects the parent-child bond – the parenting style at play.
Most parenting styles are a combination of two things:
1. Responsiveness – How much independence the child is given
2. Obedience – How much discipline is expected from the child in return
Before we dig into each style, let’s start with an example to set the tone.
|Imagine a child has gone out to a nearby sweet-shop all by themselves without their parents’ permission. Parents are most likely to respond in one of the following ways:
a. Why did you step out without permission! Don’t you know how dangerous it is outside? From now on you cannot leave the house without an adult accompanying you or else your internet connection will be cut.
b. I’m very disappointed in you for stepping out without permission when I’ve told you not to do it. If you think you’re old enough to start going to shops alone, that’s something we can discuss but even then you will have to keep us informed.
c. No problem kiddo! The shop was nearby so it’s fine! Will you share some of your sweets with me?
These responses aren’t random. In fact, they trace back to each of the four major parenting styles! Let’s explore what each response says about the parenting style at play.
Response: “Why did you step out without permission! Don’t you know how dangerous it is outside? From now on you cannot leave the house without an adult accompanying you or else your internet connection will be cut.”
In an authoritarian style, the parent is usually low on responsiveness and high on obedience. This is commonly seen in “strict” parenting where some form of punishment is used to disciple the child. In the Indian context, many of us may have grown up seeing this parenting style around us!
Response: “I’m very disappointed in you for stepping out without permission when I’ve told you not to do it. If you think you’re old enough to start going to shops alone, that’s something we can discuss and see how to do. But even then you will have to keep us informed.”
In an authoritative style, the parent shows moderate responsiveness and moderate obedience. This means that while the parent emphasises on rules and discipline, the child is included in the process and gets a say too.
Response: “No problem kiddo! The shop was nearby so it’s fine! Will you share some of your sweets with me?”
In the permissive style, parents show high responsiveness and low obedience. The parents with this style want to be their child’s friend and avoid confrontation with them. While this creates a friendly rapport with the child, there is little emphasis on rules and discipline.
In an uninvolved style, the parent neither shows responsiveness nor expects obedience in return. Experts constantly emphasise on the detrimental nature of this style, as it can turn into neglect in its severe form.
While research shows that the authoritative style is best for children, the effectiveness of each style depends on a lot of factors like the child’s personality, cultural influence, and the environment where the child is raised. It’s also important to keep in mind that one parenting style may not fit every single situation and you may find yourself adopting a combination of styles based on your child’s response.
Exploring major parenting styles can help you understand yourself a little better and help you gauge if there’s a more suitable approach to meeting your child’s needs. However, a word of caution – don’t be too critical on yourself in the process! We hope the information about different parenting styles will help you strengthen your bond with your children!
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