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Changing trends of Parenting in the 21st Century

Parenting is one of the most important aspects in the life span of an individual. Every parent wants their children to be successful who will be accepted by society. Globally every parenting practices share three major goals: ensuring child’s health and safety, prepare children to become productive citizen and transmission of cultural values (American Psychological Association). Various studies revealed the significant association of parent-child relationship quality with learning skills, social competencies, self-esteem, resilience, educational achievement, and risky health behavior of child in later life. The planning of being efficient parents for the bright future of their child starts with the conception of new life.

Early years of child’s life makes a significant difference in their development process and influence their learning. Various developmental psychologists conducted research showing the role of parenting style and its impact on child development. During the 1960’s, psychologist Diana Baumrind identified some dimensions of parenting which include disciplinary strategies, warmth, communication styles, and expectation of maturity and control. 

In the modern world of parenting, various labels emerge for every time parents- helicopter parents, attachment parents, lawmaker parents, etc. Today there is an urgent need of understanding the philosophies or characters of these labels to gain and spread little awareness of how couples are approaching their parenting. Based on parenting dimensions, three different parenting styles were suggested by Baumrind. Authoritarian parenting might have label of “old school” style with strict, demanding parents who offer limited independence, Authoritative parenting encompasses the label of “ideal parents” involve nurturing, responsive and supportive style with set firm limitations for children and Permissive parenting is basically “laissez-faire” parenting that involves warmth but no set boundaries and guidelines for the child. Later in 1983 Maccoby and Martin another parenting style named uninvolved parenting which involves unresponsive, unavailable, and rejecting parents.

However modern parenting culture is more refined and has hairline difference that influences the child development in different ways:

Helicopter parenting: This parenting style involves a parent who is overly focused on their children. In simple terms, it could be understood as over-parenting. Parents try to be overcontrolling in a child’s life, overprotecting and over perfecting to be responsible parents. The downside of this approach results in independent and non-resilient children who are unable to handle failure and challenges.

Tiger parenting: It type of parenting is a combination of helicopter parenting and authoritarian parenting. In this type of parenting, parents display rigid and harsh characteristics towards kids with the expectation of obedience and success. The parents prioritize the academic success of a child above almost anything else but limit the choice and independence of a kid.

Hummingbird parenting: This can be considered as an alternative to helicopter parenting.  Thus this parenting style describes the modern-day version of authoritarian parenting. Parents provide space, freedom, and autonomy for kids to take risks. Parents remain physically available nearby to kids. They watch and aware but never interfere in the decision of kids unless the problem requires the handling of parents. This style promotes happiness, confidence, and well being of the kids.

Attachment Parenting: This modern parenting style is an approach of child-rearing intended to forge strong and secure attachments between parents and children. The principles of this parenting style are being responsive and sensitive to the baby’s need, sensitive nurturing, and create bonds with child to understand his/her need. This parenting style promotes brain development in infants, a better understanding of the mental and emotional needs of the child, reduce the occurrence of behavioral issues among children, promote socio-emotional development, and many more.

Intensive Parenting: This is child-centered and time-intensive approach to parenting. The parents following this style facilitate their child’s participation in extracurricular activities, play along with kids, ask their thoughts and feelings, and react to their misbehavior by discussion and explanation. Parents set defined rules for child safety but provide freedom to children. Less involvement of parents in children’s activities but provide a clear directive with little space for negotiation.

Free-range parenting: This is the opposite of helicopter parenting. This parenting style allows independence to kids and less supervision or no supervision in public is practiced by people. Earlier this type of parenting is considered as neglectful parenting but proponents say this style instills amazing qualities like sufficiency and resilience. 

Snowplow Parenting: Also known as lawmaker or bulldozer parents. The parents who are easily convinced by child demands and willing to drop everything to fulfill their child’s wants and demands no matter whether it is age-appropriate or not falls under this category. These parents have good intension and they don’t want their kids to experience struggle. But this parenting style lays the foundation of anxiety and fear of failure.

Light House parenting: The most balanced approach coined by pediatrician Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg. A lighthouse parent understands that sometimes children need to learn from failure too and parents become distant helpers. Love, protection and letting the child learn from failure promote child development Researches indicated that parents using this balanced style raise children with stronger emotional wellbeing and mental health, less risky behavior and better academic success

Parents-child relationship in 21st century:

Past few decades, the parent-child relationship has undergone various changes, which resulted in a rapid transition in child-rearing as a community-based practice to more individualistic practice. This change in practice is also because having a child become a choice nowadays that was used to be a default practice that creates conscious parenting. Recent research indicated today’s parents have greater expectations with their children in terms of their school performance, homework, fewer tantrums and more involvement in child’s life, friends and desires, etc. and intensive monitoring of children as compared to 90’s parents (Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology). The greatest change in parent-child relationships has occurred due to digital advancement. This result in the contraction of exploration area for a child, indoor play dominated over outdoor and adults supervision in play activities increased. Nowadays parents are becoming concierge parents who believe to provide their kids whatever they want. Parents want to make their child live comfortable and they started negotiating with kids to make them feel attentive by throwing money gadgets, toys, artificial play environment, and opportunities which create an indulging child that developed a sense of entitlement and a false sense of security. Concierge parenting also has the hallmark of codependency in which parents start doing developmentally inappropriate things for their children and do all the tasks by their own in behalf of their kids like writing homework, making projects, help in daily living skill, etc. to prevent a child from struggle and failure which develop dependency of a child on parents to do a task which he/she should do by their own. And later child in adolescence or adulthood stage started showing less excusable and acceptable behavior and attitude. 

Parenting during this pandemic:

COVID-19 brings changes in family life. UNESCO estimates more than 1.38 billion children are out of school or child care centers, having no access to group activities, sports, or playgrounds. No one has any idea how long this situation will last, so people trying to keep their kids busy and safe which is a daunting prospect. For low income and crowded households, this situation is exacerbated. The economic crisis increased parenting stress, abuse, and violence against children. Parenting at any time is challenging but during the pandemic period is brings confusion, worries, and fairness. But times of hardship can also agree for the creative opportunities for parents to build a strong relationship with children. WHO has developed tip sheets on parenting in the time of COVID-19 for parents that cover plans for one-on-one time, stay positive, structured routine plans, avoiding bad behavior, stress management, and talks related to COVID-19. The collaboration of some international agencies like WHO, UNICEF, the global partnership to End Violence Against Children, the US centers for disease control and prevention, etc. are providing open access online parenting resources during this time. These resources focus on practical tips to build positive relationships, manage a child’s tantrums, bad behavior, and management of parenting stress (Cluver et al 2020). These effective strategies can be used by parents to respond, care, and protect children in the future also.

Consequences of bad parenting styles on child psychology:

Researchers founded a significant association between parenting style and child behavioral adjustment. If parents display affection toward a child but exert behavioral and psychological control over child results into internalizing/emotional behavior (like anxiety and depression) and externalizing/disruptive (like ADHD) behavior in later life. As per the report of the UK’s Department for Education in 2011 pointed out that more misbehavior are displayed by children who are treated with harsh and inconsistent parenting style with poor supervision and physical punishment. As per the study reported in Developmental Psychology over-controlled parenting like helicopter parenting, snowplow parenting, etc. limits the child’s opportunity to learn life skills like manage emotions, creativity, critical thinking, decision making, communication. This impact mental health, physical health, social association, and academic opportunities create difficulty for the child to deal with challenges of later life especially the complex school environment and faces difficulty get involved in the peer group.

Various behavioral issues arise in later life of child because children and youth are not armed with set of skills and coping mechanism to deal with challenges of life they get encountered. They have expectation of similar type kind of treatment with world in the way their parents used to treat them. In general terms, sense of independence and capability to deal with life’s challenge is not developing in adolescence age. Young people are demonstrating depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, engage in self-harm activities and do not have decision making ability that significantly impact the success and this problems are mainly encountered with those children whose parents’ were used to follow over involved or uninvolved parenting and didn’t directed or trained their kids to deal with life challenges which they are facing in youth phase.

Is there a right parenting style?

Parenting style is an important factor in child development. The answer to this question arises is the right parenting style is what is appropriate for your child. Individual differences exist among children with variations in their needs. What is right for one child may be suitable for another. Every parenting style has its own pros which bring valuable benefits to kids. Researches have already indicated the association of parenting styles with a range of child outcomes in areas such as socio-emotional skills and their academic achievement brings positive results. In order to raise confident and emotionally sound children, parents should provide support, warmth, love, appropriate guidance, understand a child’s needs and develop life skills and self- esteem within the child. There are no perfect parents and parenting styles. Practically, parents need to practice a mix of several different parenting styles for the sound development of the child.

Author: Neha Joshi

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