“When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness’ sake. But, don’t make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles ’em.”
“Bad language is a stage all children go through, and it dies with time, when they learn they’re not attracting attention with it.” ― Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)
If you have read this book, then one of the things that will strike you the most is the bond shared by Atticus, a single parent, and his children, Scout and Jim. Most of the lines are memorable, and express a lot about parenting, with immense simplicity. True parenting is about sharing a bond that provides the right amount of affection and love unconditionally, and instills a sense of responsibility and humanity in your offspring.
It is about respecting your kids, and teaching them the essentials of life in a way that doesn’t seem didactic. It is being the child’s friend and mentor, without one role overpowering the other. Parenting is one of the most fulfilling and yet, one of the most difficult tasks in life. Every parent deals with his/her child in their individual way, yet a parenting style is always evident within each one’s pattern of action.
Authoritarian parenting style is the one in which the parents always try to be in control of their kids. Usually, these are the sorts who try to impose rigid rules and restrictions on their kids, in order to keep a tab on them. These parents often believe that children should show no signs of negative emotions like crying, since it makes them appear weak. Hence, you find these parents constantly warning their kids about it. Those who have authoritarian parents, always struggle to keep up with their parents’ expectations, and often end up feeling a lack of affection in the child-parent bond. These parents often fail to explain to their kids the reason behind imposing the rules and restrictions. Kids with authoritative parents often have trouble being independent individuals who think on their own, and have difficulty in trusting their own judgment. They can grow up feeling lonely, emotionally distressed, and can have trouble in learning new concepts and getting along with peers.
Permissive parents or those with a laissez-faire parenting approach, tend to give their children a lot of freedom, and have very little control over their lives. Permissive parents rarely make any rules, and if at all they are made, not all the rules are rigorously imposed. Permissive parents love their kids unconditionally, even if it means accepting their unacceptable/objectionable behavior and tantrums. These parents tend to provide abundant choices and options, without ensuring whether the kids are capable of handling the responsibility, and without ensuring whether they are making the correct choice or not.
Democratic parenting is, perhaps, one of the more balanced styles of parenting since it encourages the children to think independently, and take responsibility for their own actions. Democratic parents teach to differentiate between good and bad, but allow the kids to make their own choices and learn to take responsibility for themselves. These parents generally have clear and reasonable expectations from their kids, and also explain why they want particular manners and behavior. They monitor their kids’ behavior to ensure that they are on the right track, but in a way that seems loving and caring, without being intrusive. These parents also encourage their kids to participate in the household chores. The mistakes are appropriately pointed out and corrected, and every mistake is a means to teach them a valuable lesson, rather than an opportunity for punishment. Moreover, good behavior is always appreciated and rewarded by the democratic parents. They often analyze the abilities of their kids, and provide them with suitable options.
Dismissive or neglectful parenting is an essentially harmful method of parenting. These parents generally fail to generate adequate interest for parenting their children. Parents do not interfere in any of the activities and merely provide the basic needs of life. These parents often dismiss the kids’ concerns, and shrug off the responsibility to acknowledge or discuss the problems. Their kids grow up to be rebellious, irresponsible and may show signs of psychological distress.
Emotional coaching is another unique style of parenting, that focuses on nurturing the child’s emotions. Emotional coaching is about getting into the child’s shoes, and empathizing with his/her emotions instead of analyzing or criticizing them. Parents who opt for this style of parenting, try to get to know the emotions of the child. They encourage the expression of emotions, and empathize with these feelings instead of restricting them. They see every moment as an opportunity to converse and strengthen the bond further. They talk to the kids, and guide them towards solving the problem instead of giving the solution. Children of such parents have been observed to have fewer behavioral problems, and handle all sorts of emotions in a much better way in childhood as well as after growing up.
It is not necessary that all the parents might rigidly fall into one of these categories. These are generalized characteristics of prominent parenting styles. Some parents might also show characteristics from more than one of these styles. Parents need to realize the effect of these parenting techniques. They need to be aware of the fact that every step and every action they take, is watched and processed by their children. Kids often try to imitate the habits and characteristics of their parents, and hence, one of the most important elements in parenting is leading by example. Love your kids, respect them, teach them what is good and bad, give them the right to question, encourage independent behavior, and monitor their growth by being a facilitator instead of being a control freak or intruder.