Greek philosopher Plato had once said that the upbringing of a child should start before his birth. Although he primarily focused on prenatal gymnastics, a specific component of it pointed towards parenting education. Children feel comfortable when parents exhibit confidence, which gives them a feeling of being in safe hands. Anxiety and insecurity brings discomfort in the relationship, which is damaging for a smooth parenting process. Most of the parenting experts and family counselors generally believe that the parenting style chosen affects the behavior and performance in every aspect. Most young parents are often clueless about parenting issues, especially when there are no elders to guide them. Often there are diametrically opposite opinions about parenting styles to be followed, be it exclusively or mixed. Hence, it becomes interesting to segregate different parenting styles and investigate a chosen style’s suitability in obtaining a desired result.

Parenting styles

Similarities between various parenting methods form the parenting styles. The extent of adoption of these styles vary between different ethnic and socio-economical groups. Some prominent parenting styles are assertive, adjustive, indifferent, and balanced.

Assertive/Authoritative/Disciplinarian

It was a popular style of the last few decades. It is characterized by more emphasis on discipline with utter disregard for any flexibility. Rules of discipline are often left unexplained with absolutely no scope for the child to discuss it with parents. This style is often the reason for friction within the family. With society’s development and a more communicative school curriculum, every child wants to communicate more often with the parents. Most of the time, children express a desire to know the reasons for disciplinary rules and related expectations.  Children from these families often fear authority and lack self-confidence. They end up being a cog in the system devoid of any initiative or independent thinking. Whenever put in a challenging situation, they take time to gather strength and put any tangible results on the table.

Adjustive/Accommodative/Flexible

Presently highly popular and often recommended style of parenting experts. The essence of this style is freedom of communication, which results in developing a reason-based thought process. It adds to their self-confidence, which gets reflected in every stage of their career.

Children from these families take authority as their friends who are there to help him. Hence, there should be no fear of authority. These kids exhibit self-starter’s behavior, booming confidently, and out to achieve anything. They are not shy of taking risks and exhibiting initiative whenever necessary.

Children brought up with this style are often seen questioning doctors in a diagnosis appointment or interacting with a cop or fireman with a relative ease.

Indifferent/Aloof/Separated

This style is relatively less chosen. Here parents generally remain uninvolved with a child’s upbringing because of many reasons. It is common in families who are either super-rich or very poor. It is seen that parents are so much immersed in their professional routine that they have no time to look at their kids’ upbringing. However, many times parents remain aloof as they are not sure of their responsibilities in proper upbringing.

Children brought up with this style are very independent and strong-headed. They show resistance to any change both in personal and professional life. Hence, they often result in being called “uncoachable,” hence a misfit for any organization. Their personality shows some misadjustment in behavior patterns as well as in discipline building.

Balanced/Harmonious/Even-steven

This approach involves taking a judicious mix of all the styles mentioned above. Many times the situation is the boss. Hence, the style adopted is in line with the situation. Results obtained with this approach are often not well defined. However, it is still the most widely accepted style. Most parents agree that it is always better to train for an independent existence, but with proper monitoring. It is better if one of the parents adopts a given style and another one a different one to ensure a proper mix. These roles can also be reversed between parents depending on the situation at hand.

Complex situations

Parenting becomes a challenge in complex situations and requires out of the box solution. An example of a possible complicated situation can be of Parenting as a single parent. This situation may arrive because of a spouse’s unfortunate death, divorce, or other spouse’s distant job placement. Here solution has to be different. Any adopted style has to be on the foundation of specific necessary measures. These measures are essential if the desired results are to be obtained.

In families who have experienced divorce, the child must not be allowed to have any negative feelings about other parents. Similarly, in families where one parent is mostly out of town because of work, the child must understand the importance of this sacrifice. It will help the child develop the importance of having a complete family. This thought process will eventually pass to the next generation. It is essential to spend as much possible time with the child physically. It can be playing physical sports or any other joint activity such as cooking in the kitchen. Joint activity helps in the processing of emotions of a child. A feeling of belongingness to the family gets imbibed as well. A gradual delegation of responsibilities is also essential. It helps in relieving some stress of single-parent plus child also remains within a disciplined routine. There is no reason for having a child develop irresponsible behavior just for being with a single parent.  After these measures have been taken, any adopted parenting style will yield the desired result. Sometimes being a single parent brings more comfort in terms of stress, freedom of time, and even more money. It is all but necessary then that these advantages are translated into more comfort and proper upbringing.

Equally complicated is the situation where children have to be brought up by their Grandparents. This unfortunate situation may arise due to parents’ sudden death, incarceration, mental sickness, or drug addiction. Grandparents must not let any negativity crop up in kids’ minds about the parents if they are alive and cannot be with them. Children should be made to understand the reasons for parents’ absence from their lives for the time being. Grandparents should provide total warmth and affection to the children, but this should not spoil them. Grandchildren should never be allowed to have a feeling that they can get away with their Grandparents. Like the immediate children, they should have structured lives with discipline. Therefore, Grandparents should exercise their authority as and when required.

Parents should be clear about their child’s life milestones and desired results. The child’s personality must be compatible with the chosen parenting style. External advice is helpful, but parents should finally decide as they are better aware of the child’s temperament, neighborhood, and school environment. Parenting does become a challenge when a child is in teens. Hence, external advice can be explored if required. Knowledge about parenting styles is helpful as it makes parents more involved and accountable. Discussion with other parents is also helpful and reassuring. Children are the most significant asset for any family. Hence, it becomes necessary that no stone is left unturned in their upbringing.

Nadeem Khan is an Author and Speaker based in Toronto.


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