Are you a parent? Even if you are not, you may have some idea about the struggles of parenting. It is one of the most difficult and unpaid work in today’s world. In certain cases, this work may be expensive as well. For instance, in India, it may take around Rs 65 to Rs 80 lakhs to raise a child, according to Edufund. This estimate includes health care expenses, school expenses, and other miscellaneous expenses.
Setting aside the financial situation, parenting is quite complex just considering the idea of raising a whole human being with their own life left at your responsibility. Despite, the many burdens of parenting we may come across many different families who would die for their children and vice versa. So how do such relationships form despite all the downhills? We may see numerous articles on the importance mother in a child’s life, but what about the paternal side? While the growing acceptance towards different family dynamics, how does the role of the paternal parent fit into this picture?
Meaning of Parenting
Parenting, also known as child rearing, is the action of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social and other aspects of the child’s development from infancy to adulthood. It is a complex yet detailed concept of raising a child and is not limited to biological relationships.
Parenting can occur even in the absence of any biological connection. For example, a child can be raised by their surrogate parent, older sibling, a step-parent, grandparents, family members, close friends or adopted family and not just the biological parents. Even government and society can play a role in the upbringing of the child.
Parenting theoretically speaking is focused on the methods used for teaching and raising children. This means parenting can be both good parenting and bad parenting. Different parenting methods affect the outcome differently. In addition, this may create a lifelong impact on the child.
These methods are often referred to as parenting styles. According to psychologist Diana Baumrind (whose work was further expanded by Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin in the 1980s), parenting styles are classified into two dimensions- responsive and demanding. Responsive is the degree to which the parents are accepting of their child’s emotional and developmental needs. Whereas, demanding is the degree to which the parents control their child’s behaviour.
Based on this, four different parenting styles were formulated which are:
1) Authoritative Parenting Style (Democratic)
Authoritative parents are assertive and supportive. They respect their child’s autonomy. This parenting style is considered the best out of the four parenting styles as the children learn to be active, and independent, possess higher competency and form secure attachments.
2) Authoritarian Parenting Style (Disciplinarian)
Containing high levels of responsiveness and high levels of demand, this parenting style demands obedience and is directive and status-oriented. Authoritarian parents may view themselves as authority figures. They may exert strict rules to tough up their children. The drawback of this style is that they may often be unable to fulfil their children’s needs, that is they are not nurturing. This style produces outcomes worse than in authoritative parents’ cases such as low self-esteem, insecurities and much more.
3) Permissive Parenting Style (Indulgent)
This is a more lenient form of parenting style. Permissive parents may set very few rules and boundaries and are passive. They don’t like to disappoint their children and are less likely to foster growth in their children. Thus, this form of parenting produces worse outcomes than authoritative or authoritarian parents such as forming an ambivalent attachment style.
4) Neglectful Parenting Style (Uninvolved or Disengaged)
Unlike the other three parenting styles, neglectful parents don’t set any boundaries or standards in most cases. As the name suggests, they are often indifferent to their children and uninvolved in their lives. This form of parenting style produces the worst outcome than any other parenting style in this list. For example, such children are prone to poor performance, mental health issues and maladaptive behaviours.
The Paternal Role
A few centuries ago, fathers’ primary role was to serve as breadwinners of the family and enforce disciple and teachings to their children. Growing trends and an increase in urbanization caused fathers to become distant from their families. This led to an increase in abandonment and illegitimacy among families. However, in recent decades, the economic change in roles among women has greatly impacted the previous trends. The rate of employment or looking for women is said to double since the beginning of the 20th century from 33% to 60%. This increase may have led to shifts in the financial powers of families.
In addition to changes such growing autonomy of women, declining fertility rates, increasing divorces and remarriages, and childbirth out of wedlock may contribute to the shift in the traditional role of father to multiple undefined roles. Some of the newer defined roles of fathers in various family dynamics include:
- Non-residential fathers
- Single dads
- Gay fathers
- Stay-at-home dads
Fathers are required to play various roles as caregivers in modern times. According to the research done by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) found that fathers who contribute to caregiving roles tended to have the following attributes:
- Worked fewer hours than other fathers
- Acquire positive psychological adjustments qualities such as high self-esteem, effective coping strategies and lower levels of depression and hostility
- Higher marital intimacy in the relationship
- The influence of the father’s love is as great as the mother’s love
- Promotes social, emotional and cognitive development of their children
- Children suffer less from substance abuse problems in future
Strategies for Effective Parenting
As the article indicates, the paternal role is almost equally important as the maternal role in children’s development. Thus, the following are a few tips you could apply in your life to teach or promote the development of children:
- Provide positive affirmations to boost their self-esteem.
- Point out the good actions done by the child along with the bad actions.
- Set limits and be consistent with disciplining the child.
- Ensure to spend time with your kids daily as you may never get that time later in life.
- Provide good examples by trying your best to be one yourself.
- Keep communication a priority and key to any conflicts.
- Be flexible with your parenting style.
- Help them understand love can be unconditional.
- Make limits and your own needs as a parent.