Parenting (or child rearing) is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the aspects of raising a child aside from the biological relationship.
In the case of humans, it is usually done by the biological parents of the child in question, although governments and society take a role as well. In many cases, orphaned or abandoned children receive parental care from non-parent blood relations. Others may be adopted, raised by foster care, or be placed in an orphanage.
The goals of human parenting are debated. Usually, parental figures provide for a child’s physical needs, protect them from harm, and impart in them skills and cultural values until they reach legal adulthood, usually after adolescence.
Parenting models, tools, philosophies and practices
Although race may be a significant contributing factor, social class, wealth, and income have the strongest impact on what methods of child rearing are used by parents. Lack of money is found to be the defining factor in the style of child rearing that is chosen, and minorities are more likely to have less wealth or assets available for use in their children’s upbringing. Societal values and norms of a generation also have an effect, as in the United States where authoritarian parenting was the most popular until the 1960s when a backlash made permissive parenting the most popular in the 1970s. As times change so does the way parents parent their children. It becomes essential to understand parenting styles as well as how those styles contribute to the behaviour of the children.
Models of parenting
Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind identified three main parenting styles in early child development: authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. Maccoby and Martin expanded the styles to four: authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent and neglectful. These four styles of parenting involve combinations of acceptance and responsiveness on the one hand and demand and control on the other.
Each parenting style has a different impact on children. Although Diana Baumrind identified three main parenting styles and Maccoby and Martin added the fourth, the following authors talk indepth about each style and its impact.
- Authoritarian parenting style can be very rigid and strict. It is mostly patriarchical in nature and everything is often decided by the father. Parents who use this style have a strict set of rules and expectations; if rules are not followed it ends up with punishment. There is usually no explanation of giving the punishment just that the children are in trouble and should listen accordingly. This parenting style and parents who use a more authoritarian approach with power assertion and the involvement of physical punishment with little emotions of comfort and affection are more likely to produce a child with deviant tendencies. According to this style is subject to producing children that can internalize and externalize undesired behaviours as well as developing problems in social situations. Also the punishment aspect of this parenting style also contributed to problems in school for the youth, their behaviours were often deemed undesirable. This contributed to the youth conducting themselves in a deviant manner in the school as well as toward other children.
- The authoritative style consists of following the same rules as the authoritarian parents. With having strict rules and expectations however there is more open communication with parents and children in the authoritative style. They listen more to the child and how they are. When children have problems with rules and they are broken these parents tend to be more receptive. They monitor instead of trying to rule the child’s life they are less restrictive parents but still assertive.
- Permissive parenting is often the style parents try to stay away from. There is not much structure here for children, and parents often do not set rules or have guidelines for the child. They do not have many expectations for the children; they avoid conflict and are more nurturing to the child. They are more lenient when it comes to misbehaviour and often do not punish the children for wrongdoing. Many parents who fall into this group do not even let their children notice which behaviors are wanted. However, parents adapted to this style also end up with their children having a hard time communicating with them about things their children find important. Children with less communication with parents tended to have more negative behaviours at school than those who have had some open communication with their parents.
- Uninvolved parenting style is exactly how uninvolved is defined, parents are often absent emotionally and sometimes even. They have no expectations of the child and regularly do not have communication or a nurturing feature to them. They provide everything the child needs for survival with little to no engagement. They are not interested in their schooling other than making sure they go and they are not interested in extracurricular activities they may be involved in. There is often a large gap between parents and children with this parenting style. Children with little or no communication with parents tended to more often be the victims of other children’s deviant behaviour and involved in some deviance themselves.
There is no single or definitive model of parenting. What may be right for one family or one child may not be suitable for another. With authoritative and permissive (indulgent) parenting on opposite sides of the spectrum, most conventional and modern models of parenting fall somewhere in between.Parenting strategies as well as behaviours/ideals of what parents expect whether communicated verbally and/or non-verbally also play a significant role in a child’s development.
- Positive Parenting- unconditional support, guiding them and supporting them for healthy development.
- Attachment Parenting- strengthen the intuitive, psychological and emotional bond between the primary caregiver
- Unconditional Parenting- giving unconditional positive encouragement
- Spiritual Parenting- respecting the child’s individuality, making space for child to develop a sense of their own beliefs through their personality and their own potentials
- Slow Parenting- allowing the child to develop their own interests and allowing them to grow into their own person, lots of family time, allowing children to make their own decisions, limit electronics, simplistic toys
- Helicopter Parenting- over-parenting, parents are constantly involving themselves, interrupting the childs ability to function on their own
- Narcissistic Parenting- parents are driven by their own needs, their children are an extension of their own identity, use their children to live out their dreams
- Toxic Parenting- poor parenting, complete disruption of the child’s ability to identify one’s self and reduced self-esteem, neglecting the needs of the child and abuse is sometimes seen in this parenting style
Parents should remember that they are still individuals in a loving relationship, and adapt to parenthood. Parenting styles is a small part of being an effective parent. The skills parents bring also have a major role to play, and we now know that children benefit when their parents:
- communicate honestly about events or discussions that have happened, also that parents explain clearly to children what happened and how they were involved if they were
- stay consistent, children need structure, parents that have normal routines benefits children incredibly;
- utilize that resources availabe to them, reaching out into the community;
- taking more interest in their child’s educational needs and early development; and
- keeping open communication and staying educated on what their child is learning and doing and how it is effecting them
Effects of parenting, family and family structure on child behaviour
Families whether big or small, rich or poor, can be subject to producing children with different behaviours in some cases these behaviours are desired and sometimes they are not. Researchers place particular importance on how parents parent as it impacts children on all levels of their development. As well as parenting style can be a root cause in producing undesired behaviours in children.
Family structure also contributes greatly to child behaviour. When deviance is concerned many people will look at parents. This is important because parents are the primary socializing agents of children which means they greatly contribute to their child’s behaviour. When children come from different familial structures it is essential to understand how that type of family affects their behaviour, especially in school.
Intact families and single parent families often function differently from each other. Many families show similarities, however who is in charge of the family is a key contributor to child behaviour. According to strain theory by Agnew (1985) it affects their development, how they relate to things and people and overall how they react to everyday situations. As transitions in families take place and as times evolve it becomes essential to understand how these transitions affect the family structure and those experiencing the transitions.
Children coming from a non-intact family which is often considered single parent families show higher incidences of deviant behaviours. That is not to say that children that come from families in which both parents are present are not delinquent, these families show lower rates than those who only have one parent present. Schroeder et al. (2010) discovered that families in which the children resided with the father had high rates of behaviour and delinquency problems than those households led by the mother. Although mother led households experienced less behaviour and delinquency problems their children were still having issues surrounding their deviant behaviours more than intact families.
Another contributing factor of single parent families on children is time constraint. Most single parents work hard to keep their family equipped with essential needs. Lack of supervision and lack of time spent with children deeply contributes and shapes their overall functioning and their behaviour especially surrounding delinquency issues. Intact families also face time constraints but this is levelled between two parents which usually will allow at least one parent to be available to children. This helps with supervision and communication which can often lack in single parent households.
Blended families also show some alarming findings, when single parent families transition into blended families, deviant behaviours, especially violent offending increases. These types of families host a whole new set of experiences for children. Accommodating a new parent as well as new siblings affect children deeply it can contribute to undesired behaviours. These undesired behaviours can show up in the school setting as undesirable actions including verbal and physical components placing the child at risk for deviant behaviour in school.
Children experiencing transitions in their families often experience high levels of stress because of the transition. The stress the children experience is closely related to strain theory. The strain that families experience because of transitions exposes children to negative stimuli, these negative exposures often put the child at risk to manifesting problems in other areas of their life because of the strain the family is experiencing
Structure of the family plays a key role in the development of the child and whether or not their behaviour is deviant because of the structure they reside in, it becomes important to examine relations between family members Whether a household consists of two members or five members it is important to look at how each member associates with one another. Relationships between brothers and sisters and mom and dad will each have their own unique form as well as some of the same attributes. Communication is important in any relationship, especially when it comes to parenting. It’s not only important between parents but also important with children. Expectations should be clear and each member should understand their role. How children react to situations with their siblings will give a parent an idea of how they will react around their peers.
The bond between parents and a child is important for the child to form healthy relationships down the road. Also the bond between parents and children becomes essential in reducing undesired deviant behaviours in youth. When dealing with issues surrounding deviant behaviour of children it becomes important to analyse the relationship between child and parent. Communication between parent and child is important not only for both the parent and child and their ability to cohabitate but to also understand what each other are going through.
It is also important to keep the parent and child informed of their role. When the child and parent experience positive open communication with each other it then gives the child a positive relationship to reference when conducting themselves at school with teachers and authority. It also gives the child a well developed self esteem and better self concept which in turn allows the children to have high standards of conducting themselves positively to peers and in school.
The parent-child positive relationship also becomes important when the child is in school, when positive relations form at home children will have an easier time forming positive relations in school. Children with good communication and bonding in the home bring positive behaviours to school which allows for good communication with peers, teachers and authorities. The child will also have a positive bonding to the school community and their education goals. This also reduces the incidences of their participation in school violence and acting out on undesired behaviours. If the relationship between family members suffers it can leave children with the inability to make good judges of character for those they choose to associate with. Conflict in the home can be damaging for a child to experience, it has a very deep impact on how they will conduct their relationships at school and how they will continue to develop relationships in the future. How families deal with situations that arise with family members as well as how situations outside the home are handled can also be a key factor when dealing with behaviours of children. This directly links to social learning theory; children will model what they have observed from family members especially parents, this is important in understanding their behaviour at school. If negative reactions occur in the home and the child observes this behaviour it is likely they will have the same reaction should a similar situation arise at school When relations between members have negative occurrences it puts children at risk.
Parenting across the child’s lifespan
Planning and pre-pregnancy
Family planning is the decision whether and when to become parents, including planning, preparing, and gathering resources. Parents should assess (amongst other matters) whether they have the required financial resources (the raising of a child costs around $16,198 yearly in the United States) and should also assess whether their family situation is stable enough and whether they themselves are responsible and qualified enough to raise a child. Reproductive health and preconceptional care affect pregnancy, reproductive success and maternal and child physical and mental health.
Pregnancy and prenatal parenting
During pregnancy the unborn child is affected by many decisions his or her parents make, particularly choices linked to their lifestyle. The health and diet decisions of the mother can have either a positive or negative impact on the child during prenatal parenting. In addition to physical management of the pregnancy, medical knowledge of your physician, hospital, and birthing options are important. Here are some key items of advice:
- Ask your prospective obstetrician how often he or she is in the hospital and who covers for them when they’re not available.
- Learn all you can about your backup physician as well as your primary doctor.
- Choose a hospital with a 24-hour, in-house anesthesia team.
Many people believe that parenting begins with birth, but the mother begins raising and nurturing a child well before birth. Scientific evidence indicates that from the fifth month on, the unborn baby is able to hear sound, be aware of motion, and possibly exhibit short-term memory. Several studies (e.g. Kissilevsky et al., 2003) show evidence that the unborn baby can become familiar with his or her parents’ voices. Other research indicates that by the seventh month, external schedule cues influence the unborn baby’s sleep habits. Based on this evidence, parenting actually begins well before birth.
Depending on how many children the mother carries also determines the amount of care needed during prenatal and post-natal periods.
Newborns and Infants
Newborn parenting, up to one month of age, is where the responsibilities of parenthood begins. A newborn’s basic needs are food, sleep, comfort and cleaning which the parent provides. An infant’s only form of communication is crying, and attentive parents will begin to recognize different types of crying which represent different needs such as hunger, discomfort, boredom, or loneliness. Newborns and young infants require feedings every few hours which is disruptive to adult sleep cycles. They respond enthusiastically to soft stroking, cuddling and caressing. Gentle rocking back and forth often calms a crying infant, as do massages and warm baths. Newborns may comfort themselves by sucking their thumb or a pacifier. The need to suckle is instinctive and allows newborns to feed. Breastfeeding is the recommended method of feeding by all major infant health organizations. If breastfeeding is not possible or desired, bottle feeding is a common alternative. Other alternatives include feeding breastmilk or formula with a cup, spoon, feeding syringe, or nursing supplementer.
The forming of attachments is considered to be the foundation of the infant/child’s capacity to form and conduct relationships throughout life. Attachment is not the same as love and/or affection although they often go together. Attachment and attachment behaviors tend to develop between the age of 6 months and 3 years. A lack of attachment or a seriously disrupted capacity for attachment could potentially amount to serious disorders. Physically you would not see any disorders but emotionally the child is scarred for life. A child with out attachment develops negatively.
Until infants learn to walk, between 10 and 14 months, they are carried in the arms, held in slings or baby carriers, or transported in baby carriages or strollers. Upon learning to walk the child is then known as a toddler.
Toddlers are much more active than infants and are challenged with learning how to do simple tasks by themselves. At this stage, parents are heavily involved in showing the child how to do things rather than just doing things for them, and the child will often mimic the parents. Toddlers need help to build their vocabulary, increase their communications skills, and manage their emotions. Toddlers will also begin to understand social etiquette such as being polite and taking turns.
Toddlers are very curious about the world around them and eager to explore it. They seek greater independence and responsibility and may become frustrated when things do not go the way they want or expect. Tantrums begin at this stage, which is sometimes referred to as the ‘Terrible Twos’. Tantrums are often caused by the child’s frustration over the particular situation, sometimes simply not being able to communicate properly. Parents of toddlers are expected to help guide and teach the child, establish basic routines (such as washing hands before meals or brushing teeth before bed), and increase the child’s responsibilities. It is also normal for toddler’s to be frequently frustrated. It is an essential step to their development. They will learn through experience; trial and error. This means that they need to experience being frustrated when something does not work for them, in order to move on to the next stage. When the toddler is frustrated, they will often behave badly with actions like screaming, hitting or biting. Parents need to be careful when reacting to such behaviours, giving threats or punishments is not helpful and will only make the situation worse.
Younger children are becoming more independent and are beginning to build friendships. They are able to reason and can make their own decisions given hypothetical situations. Young children demand constant attention, but will learn how to deal with boredom and be able to play independently. They also enjoy helping and feeling useful and able. Parents may assist their child by encouraging social interactions and modelling proper social behaviors. A large part of learning in the early years comes from being involved in activities and household duties. Parents who observe their children in play or join with them in child-driven play have the opportunity to glimpse into their children’s world, learn to communicate more effectively with their children and are given another setting to offer gentle, nurturing guidance. Parents are also teaching their children health, hygiene, and eating habits through instruction and by example.
Parents are expected to make decisions about their child’s education. Parenting styles in this area diverge greatly at this stage with some parents becoming heavily involved in arranging organized activities and early learning programs. Other parents choose to let the child develop with few organized activities.
Children begin to learn responsibility, and consequences of their actions, with parental assistance. Some parents provide a small allowance that increases with age to help teach children the value of money and how to be responsible with it.
Parents who are consistent and fair with their discipline, who openly communicate and offer explanations to their children, and who do not neglect the needs of their children in some way often find they have fewer problems with their children as they mature.
During adolescence children are beginning to form their identity and are testing and developing the interpersonal and occupational roles that they will assume as adults. Therefore it is important that parents must treat them as young adults. Although adolescents look to peers and adults outside of the family for guidance and models for how to behave, parents remain influential in their development. A teenager who thinks poorly of him or herself, is not confident, hangs around with gangs, lack positive values, follows the crowd, is not doing well in studies, is losing interest in school, has few friends, lacks supervision at home or is not close to key adults like parents are vulnerable to peer pressure. Parents often feel isolated and alone in parenting adolescents, but they should still make efforts to be aware of their adolescents’ activities, provide guidance, direction, and consultation. Adolescence can be a time of high risk for children, where newfound freedoms can result in decisions that drastically open up or close off life opportunities. Parental issues at this stage of parenting include dealing with “rebellious” teenagers, who didn’t know freedom while they were smaller.In order to prevent all these,it is important to build a trusting relationship with them.This can be achieved by planning and spending fun activities together,keeping your promises,do not nag at him or her about their past mistakes and try to listen and talk to them,no matter how busy you are.When a trusting relationship is built,they are more likely to approach you for help when faced with negative peer pressure.Also,try to built a strong foundation to help your child to resist negative peer pressure,it is important to build up their self-esteem:Praise your child’s strength instead of focusing on their weakness(It will make them feel good and grow confidant about themself,so he/she does not feel the need to gain acceptance from his peers),acknowledge your child’s efforts,do not simply focus on the final result(when they notice that you recognise his/her efforts,he/she will keep trying),and lastly,disapprove the behaviour,not the child,or they will turn to their peers for acceptance and comfort.
- Young adults – as children become young adults their personalities show the result of successful or unsuccessful parenting. Especially it is noticeable when young adults make their independent life decisions about their education, work and choosing mates for friendship or marriage.
- Middle age and old age – Parenting doesn’t stop when children grow up and age. Parents always remain to be parents for old children. Their relationship continues developing if both parties want to keep it or improve. The parenting issues may include the relationship with grandchildren and stepchildren.
Traditionally, new mothers and fathers have received advice from older family members and other, experienced parents. Parents often ask pediatricians for advice about child development. In addition, informal mother’s groups, playgroups, and online parenting communities provide new parents with opportunities for sharing advice and information.
Parenting books, magazines, and websites offer a wide range of advice and ideas. Parents magazine was started by George J. Hecht in 1926 and is the oldest parenting publication in the United States. Dr. Benjamin Spock’s book The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care, became a bestseller in 1946, and by 1998 it had sold more than 50 million copies. Hundreds of books have been written on the topic, each with the author’s own philosophy on how best to raise a child. Television documentaries such as The Trouble with Evan and programs such as Bringing Up Baby and Supernanny offer glimpses into the lives of other families and the effects of their parenting methods.
Parents may receive assistance from a variety of individuals and organizations. Employers may offer specific benefits or programs for parents such as parental leave when a child a born. In Canada parents receive the Child Tax Benefit when they have their children. This comes in the form of a cheque each month for children 18 and under. Certain eligibility applies and parents must submit an application to apply.The government takes into consideration if you are the sole provider for the child/children, how many children are in the family and income of the parent(s)
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