Parenting and family
Parenting or "child rearing" is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, financial, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Wealth, culture and income have a very strong impact on what methods of child rearing are used by parents. Cultural values play a major role in how a parent raises their child. Parenting is always evolving; as times change, cultural practices and social norms and traditions change.
Good mental health starts with how a child is parented. Mental health is not an individual issue, but a family issue. In order to thrive, children need to experience appropriate parenting from their earliest days through adulthood. With common family issues, often how a child has been parented determines the lasting effects on both the child and the family as a unit.
Types of Parenting Styles
- Authoritative parenting style - Here, the parent is demanding and responsive; the parent places many demands upon the child and holds high expectations of maturity.
- Authoritarian parenting style - This parent is demanding but not responsive. This style is a restrictive, punishment-heavy parenting style in which parents make their children follow their directions with little to no explanation and focus on the child's and family's perception and status.
- Permissive parenting style - This style sees a parent providing a great deal of love, but very few rules and responsibilities. Within this style, there are two sub-styles:
- Indulgent parenting - Also called non-directive, lenient or libertarian, this parent is responsive but not demanding.
- Neglectful parenting - Also called uninvolved, detached, dismissive or hands-off, this parent is neither demanding nor responsive.
Based on the sex of their child, mothers and fathers tend to choose completely different behaviors of parenting. Studies show that fathers can have a significant effect on the emotional adjustment of a daughter through the fashion of parenting they demonstrate, instead of through the exploitation of disciplinary approaches (such as punishment). Also, a father and mother generally tend to use an "authoritative" style towards their daughters, while feeling an "authoritarian" style is more appropriate for a son.
Helicopter parenting style vs Free-range parenting style
Everyone knows a helicopter parent. This is the parent that never allows a child a free, unstructured moment. The "helicopter parenting style" involves themselves in every aspect of the child's life, from scheduling every moment to not allowing them to do things on their own for fear the child will come to harm.
Free-range parents, on the other hand, feel a child knows what is best for them. They allow children to set the rules, do everything without supervision and basically turn an eye to any kind of danger that might exist. In the first, a child may come to feel completely incompetent; yet with the "free-range parenting style", the child often feels overwhelmed at all the responsibility he or she doesn't yet know how to handle.
Common Family Problems
Child abuse/child neglect - Often, child abuse and child "neglect" are used interchangeably, but there are differences. Child abuse consists of when a parent either physically, emotionally or sexually harms a child or allows others to do so. Neglect, on the other hand, is failing to provide what a child needs. In either case, the effects are similar. A child begins to feel as though they are powerless, unworthy and unloved. The emotional toll either takes on a child is some of the worst damage there is to overcome.
Divorce and "divorce reaction" - Divorce is difficult on both the adults and children involved. One child may be so upset he cries uncontrollably, another may strike out in anger at either or both parents and yet another may act like it is no big deal. The impact on each child can be just the same, but their individual reactions may allow the adults involved to think that one needs more "help" than the other. This can lead to a child who is confused, angry and scared being over-looked. Outward reaction to divorce is never a clear indicator of what a child is feeling; it may be the only way he knows to express emotion that is likely much deeper and stronger than he has ever felt before.
Adoption issues and separation anxiety - Separation anxiety can occur whether a child is adopted or not, but an adopted child who has unanswered questions may become fearful of being abandoned by a parent or simply left behind. This can see the child become clingy or even pulling away from the parent in preparing for what they fear. Some things an adopted child may question are: Why did my birth parents not want me? Will my adoptive parents be hurt or angry if I express my need to know about my birth parents? Who am I really and where do I fit in with this family? As a child reaches the teen years, when they are most involved with trying to find their place in the world, this can be extremely difficult.
Blended families (his kids, her kids, their kids) - a large majority of families today are what is known as blended families. A second marriage by two people who each already have children can create much confusion in the children. Not only do the children have to get accustomed to another authority figure in their lives, but they have to learn to live with that person's children. The entire family dynamic changes, creating fear of being pushed back, losing the natural parent's attention (and love) and learning a whole new set of rules to live by. Personalities can clash, competitions arise and family roles need to be adjusted. Changes take time and how those changes are dealt with determine whether the transition will cause lasting emotional damage or not.
Parenting on Purpose
A healthy child starts with healthy parenting. By creating a strong foundation and providing structure, responsibility, love and acceptance, children learn not only their self-worth, but also the worth of all other living beings.
Therapy Insider is a powerful resource for families of struggling teens or young adults; and our vision is that the wisdom of many can help secure hope for the one. Call a representative today at (866) 439-0775.