All kinds of jobs that we perform always involve some kind of training, internship, hands on experience, mentoring etc. However, parenting is the only full-time occupation which is not only highly demanding and unpaid but almost always includes its own set of moments which are extremely challenging leading to confusion, frustration and helplessness. Also, it is the only job where the new parent does not receive any formal training. Although, most parents would promptly respond to this by saying that, “Parenting is a natural and instinctually guided process which is not entitled to be certified by any external agency”. Well like many other parenting coaches I would also say that “Yes, dear parent you are right in believing that parenting is instinctual and the parent will always do what is in the best interest of the child”. However, I would like to ask few questions. Have you ever faced moments of utter distress where you find extremely hard to come in alignment to what your child wants? Have you ever felt that you have failed as a parent, even if temporarily? Do you find it hard to teach your kids to be responsible? Do you often find yourself yelling or abusing your child? Do you often find it difficult to teach your child emotional control and self-regulation? Do you often feel that it is very enough being a parent even when you attempt to give your best? Do you feel that your teenager doesn’t understand your challenges as a full time working parent? Do you sometimes feel your children are acting selfish? Do you at times feel frustrated, tired and overwhelmed? Do you feel there is too much to handle or too much expectation? Do you fail to teach your child on how to balance study and play? Do you condemn few parenting practices you experienced as a child and now often see yourself imitating your own parents unknowingly? Do you sometimes feel unable to manage your own emotions or juggle between tasks or making your kid the target of your anger?
There can be numerous such questions asked, considering the feedback I have received from many parents seeking advice on how to discipline their kids. This is completely understandable as every child is unique and would require different parenting strategies. Responding only through one’s instincts if would have been enough then there would be no conflicts bringing up kids. As per research studies, understanding empirically supported parenting styles and then incorporating them into one’s daily response patterns creates healthy relationship, increases parent-child bond, trust and intimacy, leads to more open communication and healthy self-esteem in kids. Parenting like any other job too requires training as it helps parent to understand child’s needs, adopt appropriate disciplining strategies, acquaint to a clear communication style which is assertive and firm yet gentle and friendly.
According to research studies there are 4 types of Parenting Styles:
- Authoritarian Parenting: In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow strict rules without questioning and do as asked simply because the parent said so. Children are usually punished harshly for making mistakes. As per scientific researches, Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence, self-esteem.
- Authoritative Parenting: In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow established rules and guidelines and at the same time parents lovingly explain the reasoning behind with adequate support and warmth. As per scientific researches, Authoritative parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable, and successful.
- Permissive Parenting: In this style of parenting, parents make very few demands, rarely discipline their children, they are extremely indulgent and over lenient. As per scientific researches, Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.
- Uninvolved Parenting: In this style of parenting, theparents are neglectful, have few demands, are low in responsiveness and create very little communication. Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem, and are less competent than their peers.
In every household, there are shades of these parenting styles, where often both mother and father may adopt a completely different style or a combination of these styles, unconsciously. This sometimes leads to mixed messages received by kids and causes confusion and dilemma. It’s important for parents to work in harmony and deliver coherent messages for the well-being of the child. Research promotes an authoritative style of parenting due to its promising results. Authoritative style of parenting allows clear and assertive communication and at the same time is gentle and caring. This kind of communication teaches kids how to develop safe boundaries and healthy relationships. The micro world that is created in the child’s mind through the relationship developed between the child and the parent, leads to the formation of a blueprint that is used as a guide to understand other people and the world. There are various ways in which one can develop such kind of a parenting style:
- As parents learning the techniques of ‘mindfulness’ which would help the parent to take charge of difficult situations.
- Teaching kids ‘mindfulness’, once learnt and practiced by the parent.
- More than half of the job is done when the parent and child learns emotional regulation through the training of ‘mindfulness’.
- Developing a style of communication which gives clear messages.
- A consistent way of responding to similar situations, e.g. if on the first instance the parent took the privilege of the teenager to go out with friends over a weekend due to the reason that the teenager didn’t inform that s/he would reach home late. Then, if a similar instance happens again, giving a similar response.
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