Children being immature have the longest period of dependency, understandably needing parental nurture and control. It is difficult to control a child’s behavior. Are you sure you know how?
Modern families view control from a contextual perspective: that children, parents, extended family, friends, as well as teachers and related institutions are reciprocal elements. Parents of growing children need to discuss expectations for appropriate behavior now and then.
Parents can influence children by direct instruction or by means of modeling behavior. Children need more models than instruction. Constant parental conflict hurt the child. Chronic conflict between husband and wife spills over into parent-child relationship. Stressed parents become less tolerant and accepting or forgiving; frazzled children become detached and uninterested in improving themselves. They carry at least some scars in the conflict of parents. Time spent in fighting deprives the child of quality time which should have been saved to form values.
Parental control changes as children are able to make their own decisions. As a result parents relinquish control and expect their children to be more responsible and independent. It is not suggested that children do as they please. Parents should decide which aspects of a child’s life require less control before control is finally relinquished.
To understand parents’ impact on child development, the following parental styles might serve as a basis or guide for control or modification of behavior:
1. Authoritative parents as exemplified by Americans and Europeans exhibit moderate control. Although they set the rules, they discourage detailed discussion. They want their children to be happy and self-reliant and believe that this is achieved by parents being affectionate and protective. They are generally demonstrative of their feeling. Children enjoy the warm touch but as they grow into adolescents the enthusiastic hugging and kissing that delighted them as toddlers become embarrassing. Over time parents become less controlling and less demonstrative of affection. Research shows that authoritative parenting is best for most children most of the time; as a result they often excel in their fields of interest, become independent and friendly. Children with “easy” temperaments generally respond to authoritative parenting. A child who resists authoritative behavior might do better with authoritarian parenting.
2. Authoritarian parents usually belong to the uneducated bracket with limited financial resources, often taking orders from their boss. At home they reverse roles and children take orders from them. Their family is more likely to live in a neighborhood where drugs, crime and violence are predominant. Authoritarian style with its emphasis on compliance may actually protect their children from danger. So parents compel obedience and become punitive and less responsive in their effort to instill the values of respect, hard work, and obedience. Children often become depressed and over-aggressive or rebellious or violent of temper, and as a result develop low self-esteem. What is a rebellious child? He is a human being who says no and gets battered. Domestic violence is one of the most chronically under-reported crimes. On the average a child is assaulted 35 times by his parent before a police is called. A child less eager to please needs more time, less controlling and directive parenting and a reversion to authoritative parenting. Inversely those with moderately active behavior need less time and a modest amount of control.
3. Uninvolved or permissive parents provide neither control nor warmth for the physical and emotional needs of their children; are condescending; have little bonding with their kids. Consequently children have their way and are likely to become impulsive or aggressive.
Asians, Latin Americans, and Latinos emphasize strong family ties, cooperation, collaboration, respect for the role of every family member particularly adults. They set more rules to follow and are protective of their siblings. Parental control is a mix of the three preceding styles. In China Confucian principles dictate that emotional control is the key to family harmony. Parents are less demonstrative of their affection than Americans and Europeans. ###
(References: Karl and Cavanaugh, Human Development; Ross Campbell, How to really Love Your Teenager, 1986; Beth Saavedra, Meditations for Mothers of Toddlers, 1995.)
Published in: Family