It was a beautiful evening. I marveled at the setting Sun as I slumped into one of the garden benches of my society after a long work day and the mandatory evening walk. I looked at the different groups of kids around. Some were getting ready to play while others were already in the thick of it. The little ones with their parents or caretakers throwing tantrums and a few groups busy on their phones glued to their Insta reels, Whats app chats or You tube presumably. A group of kids sitting on a nearby bench however, caught my attention specifically. They were engaged in an animated discussion. My ears perked up.
Child 1 – My mom is so cool. She never scolds me. She allows me to play video games for an unlimited amount of time without any conditions. Hah!
Child 2 – Wow! My dad also allows me to indulge in my reading activity but I must finish my studies first.
Child 3 – Is it? My parents are not concerned if I watch TV or play video games or doze off! Seriously! Can you believe it?
Child 4 – Huh! You know what! Your parents are so different from mine. I have to follow their laid out schedule for everything be it studies, play , sleep or funtime. Nhi to punishment. I guess I am the odd one out!
The discussion continued for a while before they decided to go for a round of cycling and zoomed past me on their bikes. The kids gave me some food for thought. I inadvertently started to recall my parents parenting style in comparison to that of mine. I also recalled the famous shloka-
लालयेत्पञ्चवर्षाणि दशवर्षाणि ताडयेत् ।
प्राप्ते तु षोडशे वर्षे पुत्रे मित्रवदाचरेत् ॥
which translates to –
indulge your child till he attains the age of five, discipline him for the next ten years and become his friend once he attains the age of sixteen.
I was intrigued by this topic and decided to do some further reading on it. It was indeed an eye opener as I never expected to find so much of scientific research being done on parenting styles and their impact on children’s development and mental health.
The research on parenting styles began in the 1960s. Developmental Psychologist Diana Baumrind identified four major parenting styles. Although many new styles have been added in recent years owing to lifestyle changes and the diverse nature of family units, these four are the ones most parents relate to.
These parents seek to have full control of their kids’ lives. They feel the need to guide their wards through a strict regimented upbringing where there is a rule for everything and following it is non-negotiable. A punishment of some form is also resorted to if rules aren’t followed. While the intent of the parents is noble and has the well-being of the child at its core, studies have shown that kids who grow up with this kind of parenting style are good followers but lack social or empathetic skills.
This parenting style believes in flexibility and practicality. They create boundaries and rules for their kids but discuss and ensure that the child understands the reasons behind it. The must be followed rule is laxed here. Kids have their say and can express their thoughts. The approach is supportive parenting rather than punishing one. The parents understand the kids anxieties, desires and aspirations and ensure that they are met within their boundaries so that both the parent and the child are happy. Kids growing up in homes with this parenting style grow up to be independent and self-reliant while learning to weigh the pros and cons in any given situation.
This style is also termed as Indulgent parenting by some researchers. In this type of parenting, there are no set of rules, no limitations, no boundaries rather open channels of communication. The child is allowed to make his / her decision with regards to all aspects of his / her life be it studies, pursuing hobbies, making friends , using social media( in the recent times) et al. They focus more on developing the emotional quotient of the child. There are no disciplinary actions for mistakes and things are sorted out by communicative methods. Punishments are seldom in the picture here. Kids of such homes are highly emotionally adaptive, creative and possess good social skills. On the flip side, the freedom that these kids enjoy tends to make them feel entitled at times or they may have difficulties in self-regulation.
It is also termed as Neglectful style of parenting. Here the parents perform their basic duties of providing food, clothing and shelter for the child but the interactions between the parties is limited in other areas. This style of parenting may not be by choice every time. Recent changes in our lifestyles and work pressures have resulted in a rise of this kind of parenting. Kids who grow up with such parents become resilient not out of choice but as necessity. They might develop social awkwardness and may have difficulties controlling their emotions and outbursts.
Parenting is one of the most difficult jobs in the world. Every parent adapts to a style with the best of intentions. As the kids grow up, the expectations from the child, self and society along with the needs to keep up with the changing times may nudge parents to adapt a mix of the above styles rather than sticking to one. The parents do mould themselves as per the situation and seek out the best option for their child.
Every parent is faced with different challenges and thus reacts to it in a unique way. Just put yourself in these styles and you can find whether you fit into one particular style or jump skip and hop from one to another as the situation demands..
So which parenting style do you have? All the best …