As a result, there is much debate around parenting styles. Parenting styles refer to the techniques and methods parents employ to care for and discipline their children. These approaches are crucial as they may have a lasting impact on the child's psyche and the kind of relationships that they form later in their lives.
The parent-child relationship: Laying the foundation
The relationship with parents is the foundation on which all other relations are built. Almost all major schools of thought in psychology highlight the importance of this early bond and its contribution to crafting the "self of the child." For instance, the object relations school postulates that we internalise our parental bonds, and we carry them with us as "internal objects" for the rest of our lives. So a strict and harsh parent may be internalised as a unitive voice that tells the child or adult that s/he is not good enough and give rise to anxiety and depression. This adult may forever live in fear of abandonment from the partner or may leave the relationship before this imagined abandonment occurs.
Given the importance of these attachments, this article discusses the various parenting styles and their impact on children in the Indian context.
Authoritarian parenting style
This refers to a parenting style characterised by a high regard for rules to the point of unquestioned adherence. Such parents have high expectations of compliance and little room for divergences from directions. They provide a rigid structure without any explanations or considerations of the child's preferences. Children raised in such families are dependent, critical of their choices, anxious, and tend to display aggressive behaviour.
Authoritative Parenting style
Although it sounds similar to the authoritarian parenting style, it's not. Parents displaying an authoritative type of parenting try to strike a balance between order and nurturance. They have rules in place, but these rules are flexible. The child's voice is factored in, and the importance and reasons for these rules are explained. Affection is not frowned upon, and the children are appreciated for who they are. This includes setting realistic standards, communicating effectively with the child, and empathising with her/him. Children who come from these families are more confident and responsible, as opposed to those that come from families practising other styles of parenting.
Permissive parenting style
Such parents are high on warmth and low on order. They tend to be indulgent and fail to provide the required structure to their children. There are no specified rules, and parents act more like friends. Although such a parenting style may seem beneficial, this judgement might be superficial. Children need guidance and regulations to help provide a sense of stability. Children raised in such an environment tend to have problems with adjustment and low self-esteem. They may also be anxious because of the 'psychic creation of a punitive parent'.
Uninvolved Parenting style
These parents are low on both order and warmth. They usually neither set rules nor show any interest in the lives of their children. More often than not, these are people who are suffering from a mental disorder or substance abuse disorder. Communication is often absent in these households, and the children are forced to assume the parental role of caring for their parents. Those who are reared by such parents are prone to depression and anxiety. They tend to be overly anxious or needy in relationships. Aggressive outbursts are also common in this cohort.
Ideal parenting style
The task of picking an ideal parenting style is challenging. Experts indicate that different situations warrant the use of different parenting styles. However, uninvolved parenting can be seen as the worst and lead to serious mental health concerns in children. A healthy combination of the other three parenting styles may be ideal for raising a responsible well-rounded adult.
In conclusion, one can say that parenting styles play an important role in determining the mental health of a person. However, this relationship is not the only factor. Many people who grew up in abusive homes turned out to be accountable and emotionally attuned adults. As a parent, it is also essential to remember that there exist no certified standards of perfect parenting. An involved parent, who aspires to fulfil the emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioural needs of the child while providing a stable and secure environment, can be regarded as a good parent.