Parenting: It’s quite complicated!
Being the parent of a child has to be one of the most difficult jobs in the world. The only thing lacking from a parent child relationship is payroll. A child has so many needs, desires, and milestones to achieve in life. It’s the parent who bears the burden until the child becomes mature enough to seek out their own wishes in this life. But despite the challenges that come with parenting, it is also perhaps one of the most rewarding (most of the time) jobs in the world.
Sadly, many parents are unaware of the power that they hold over their children. These types of parents lack the educational, emotional, and mental abilities to properly raise their children and equip them for the world. These parents not only lack skills and emotional intelligence, but also mental stability. Some parents who are detrimental to their children’s overall development also struggle with their own mental health problems and substance abuse/dependency. In such cases they are viewed by mental health professionals as victims themselves. Parents who are struggling with their own mental and emotional well-being cannot (and often times will not) cater to the needs of their children in the areas of academics, emotional well-being, psychological health, and social abilities. Children who are neglected and abused at the hands of unstable parents often end up in foster homes, residential treatment facilities, detention centers or juvenile jails, or incarcerated for long periods of time. Children who are victims of victims often become prostitutes, drug addicts, sociopaths, criminals, psychiatric patients, or emotional messes. As a result, it becomes absolutely necessary for mental health professionals, psychiatrists, social workers, probation officers, police, and others to get involved and remain involved. These families are often titled “dysfunctional families.” Where the dysfunction began is difficult to pinpoint because in some families, the dysfunction stems all the way back to great grandparents and great uncles. A simple genogram cannot adequately explain the dysfunction in some families. For the most part, children who come from dysfunctional families are often lied to or threatened to remain silent about the “ugly truths” of the family history. Sometimes the truth gets buried beneath so many lies that the child grows up believing in their own lies. It’s a sad downward spiral. Sometimes these families don’t mean to be neglectful or abusive, but they are. Some researchers have titled such incidences as “unintentional abuse,” a controversial concept rarely spoken of.
Some developmental theorists such as Piaget or Erik Erikson and Kohlberg believe that family dysfunction may begin with education, social teaching, and parenting style. Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist from the 1960s, described three parenting styles that she believed contributes to the overall development of the child. Her most famous parenting styles include:
Authoritative parenting: My mother was authoritative and many of the parents in my family. Authoritative parenting is well-organized and these parents often have a goal of properly raising their children and being balanced. These parents are not overly strict, yet they know how to make their child respect authority and develop appropriate values and boundaries. Authoritative households are often calmer and seem well-adjusted to life. Kids are expected to follow the rules established by the adults in the household, but it is okay if the child makes a mistake or needs to be reminded of their place as the child. These parents are often fair and firm when they need to be.
Authoritarian parenting: These parents have high expectations and often overwhelm their children with strict rules and regulations. These parents rule with an iron fist and often “scare” their children into obedience. Parents who utilize this type of parenting style might be referred to as “bossy,” “high strung,” or controlling and abusive. Fathers who are authoritarian rarely show affection and might even keep a distance from their children emotionally and psychologically, believing that this is a “healthy fear of authority.” I would venture to say that children who come from these households often stray so much that they become substance abusers, lack appropriate boundaries in relationships, and might even resort to suicide if they feel pressured to be perfect for their parent(s).
Permissive parenting (or indulgent parenting): Parents who exhibit this style of parenting can be mistaken as the child’s sister, aunt, or babysitter. This type of parent makes very few demands and does not have control over their child or children. These parents are often the parents who call “SuperNanny” to come and help them because their child has little to no respect for them. Permissive parents really don’t care about implementing values or rules into the lives of their child or children. They ultimately want to be their child’s friend or would rather be “accepted” by their child rather than respected. There is no “healthy fear” of authority and no respect. In return, the parent just feels like “oh well, what can I do.” You may have heard some parents say in embarrassment after their child does something wrong “Oh well…that’s Kevin, what can I say?”
Do you know parents who exhibit any of these parenting styles? Feel free to share your experiences.
I wish you well