JAN 23, 2021
It is widely believed that the characteristic ways in which parents interact with and raise their children, has an impact on their overall competence and well-being.
Diana Baumrind, a developmental psychologist, has classified parenting into four different styles: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Permissive and Uninvolved. These four styles are a result of the interaction between two dimensions: Demandingness and Responsiveness. Demandingness refers to the extent to which parents set demands and expectations from their children, with respect to appropriate behaviour. It includes the guidelines that parents establish and the consequences for not following them. Responsiveness, on the other hand, relates to the extent to which parents are receptive to the needs of the child - including emotional needs. It includes the regrew to which parents are supportive and accepting of the child. The interaction between these two dimensions result in the following parenting styles:
Example: ‘If you don’t do your homework, you will not be allowed to watch TV’
Authoritarian parenting is demanding but not responsive. Parents exibhiting this style have high expectations from their children and demand obedience from them. However, these parents fail to to offer their children the support that they need, and are not very accepting. Moreover, authoritarian parenting relies on strict punishments in order to discipline the child. Often, the road to authoritarian parenting is paved with good intentions. Authoritarian parents want their children to be ready for the harsh and unforgiving world, but, ironically, their best approach to achieving this goal is by being harsh and unforgiving themselves. This parenting style has a profound impact on children. Children with parents using a predominantly authoritarian style of parenting tend to have low initiative, as they are used to following orders instead of taking decisions on their own. They usually excel in academic activities but do not do so well in their social life, and tend to be withdrawn and unfriendly. They also suffer from high levels of self-blame, and generally poor mental health.
Example: ‘You have to do your homework before we go out. As soon as you finish, we can leave’.
Authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive to the needs of their child. They set firm ground rules for acceptable behaviour, but rely on communication rather than punishment. If and when they do engage in punishment, they explain the reason behind the punishment. They are also accepting and supportive - responding to the feelings of the child and encouraging open communication. They expect maturity, instead of obedience, helping the child feel responsible for behaving appropriately. They foster independence and deal with misbehaviour by teaching the child how to engage in problem-solving and how to regulate its emotions in a healthy manner. Children whose parents opt for an authoritative style of parenting are often self-reliant and have higher levels of self-esteem and self-efficacy. They also tend to be co-operative and friendly, and do well in social settings.
Example: ‘Maybe you should finish your homework’
Permissive parents are responsive but undemanding. They cater to the demands of the child without monitoring the child’s behaviour. Permissive parenting places no demands on the child’s behaviour. Such parents are extremely lenient with regard to discipline. There do not set any framework for acceptable behaviour and set no punishments. They are accepting and supportive, but foster a one-sided relationship of respectability. Children with permissive parents fall on two extremes. In the best-case scenario, they are helpful and confident. They tend to be sociable and have high self-esteem. However, in the worst- are scenarion, these children tend to be highly impulsive and have low-self control. They also tend to be immature and moody and are used to getting their way, each time.
Example: ‘I don’t care of you finish your homework or not’.
Uninvolved parents are neither demanding, nor responsive. It indicates a certain detachment from children. Parents who are uninvolved tend to be emotionally neglectful and only focus on providing food and shelter to their children. More intense versions of uninvolved parenting amounts up to child abuse. This style was not originally described by Baumrind and was added to the matrix later. Children with uninvolved parents care the worst as they tend to feel unloved. They are usually closed-off and tend to reject other people. In severe cases, they also tend to suffer from physical and cognitive deficits.
Parenting is perhaps one of the most intricate responsibilities in the world as it involves the well-being of both, parents and children. More often than not, parents are ready to go to any length for their children, except turning back around and spending some time with their children - listening to them. Open and effective communication is a pre-requisite for well-being, and especially for good parenting. What matters most, is working with your children to establish clear guidelines, explaining why something is good and why something is bad, leading with example, and making sure to check up on their emotional state. This, in turn, requires parents themselves to be emotionally healthy.
That said, it must also be noted that not everything is determined by parenting. Several factors, such as the child’s temperament and other environmental and cultural influences play a role in the development of the child. The best that one can do is staying involved and being respectful.