Prof Ajith D’Souza & Prof Renita D’Souza
Being a parent is one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs anyone could ever adopt. It is the longest task and responsibility that an individual will ever perform. Parenting is an active process that demands that individuals use their skills and knowledge plan, give birth, raise, and provide for children. The parenting process includes protecting, nourishing, and guiding the child. It involves a series of interaction between the parent and the child through the life span.
Just as children go through the stages of development, parents also go through the stages of parenthood that require appropriate parenting stage responsibilities. These stages involve changing task and roles of both parents and children.
1. Image building (conception to birth of the baby)
The young parents dream and build images of ideal parenting and of what they want to become before the baby is born. Parents are reminded of their past and how they were parented, to prepare for the financial needs care and upbringing.
2. Nurturing (Birth – 18 months)
Each child has specific wants and needs that require nurturing. By meeting the needs of the child, a positive relationship can be built, which consistently sends messages of love and support. Expressions of love and affection, listening to the child’s ideas, feelings, problems and difficulties, kindness and sympathy, help the child to feel connected to the family and society. Parents build an attachment with the child and identify themselves as a parent, assess and understand what kind of parents they really are. Grand parents, parents in law, friends, and relatives find out how the parents handle this new role. This stage is critical in building trust, bond and close attachment between the parent and the child. Trust emerges as the child’s basic needs for warmth, food, dryness of nappy, safety, eye contact, and touch are satisfied. The child’s belief and trust of the parent as a dependable source forms the basis and establishes a firm foundation for all future relationships for the rest of the life. Numerous personal adjustments must be made by the mother to meet demands of the baby in terms of resting period, feeding schedule, managing the soiled clothes, maintaining contact, giving personal attention when the baby is at play and shows initiation to become mobile.
3. Authority (18 months to age 5years)
The parents become the persons in charge when the baby begins to walk and talk. This
Is the period when the parents set rules for the child’s action and behaviour, decides
When to say yes and when to say no and prepares the child for separation that is to be away for schooling. The parents exercise utmost care to discipline, maintaining consistency, and avoiding ambiguity in giving directions helps the child to conceptualize what is expected of him.
4. Interpretation ( Age 5 to puberty)
The child’s question from “what” turns to “why” and “how”. This requires explaining each of the queries; the number of such queries grows as the child’s language skills grow and understanding expands. Parents will have to respond satisfactorily with convincing replies. The child experiments with rules and social norms, examines the quality of treatment he/she receives and the relationship maintained within the family. The type of parenting used in such situations plays a significant role in determining the sort of adult the child will become. Acceptance, appreciation and affection expressed by parents equip the child to develop a positive attitude and approach towards life. It is at this stage children make harsh conclusions and judgements about parental intentions and actions as they struggle to understand relationships, meaning or realise that other people also have feelings. This stage necessitates parents to interact with the child in an age – appropriate manner. They may need to frequently revisit and revise their parental roles as the child continues to mature. The child may show special interest in materialistic possessions, and might experiment with unique clothing and accessories of dress, appearance and behaviours. Parents can attempt to alter adverse behaviours that occur by making rules age appropriate, modifying expectations when necessary, and by serving as a role model for the child to follow.
5. Preparation for independence (Teen years)
The parents of teenagers face challenges over their authority as parents. A teenager fights with parents in making decisions, and on issues considered as personal matters.
Teenagers begin to show that they are “grown up” and are capable of handling difficult situations themselves, that they are different from their parents in many ways, and that their problems and needs are not well understood by the parents. During such times, teenagers need parental guidance to make decisions and to make tough choices. They need careful and sympathetic listening, brief counselling and independence to prove that they are capable of making certain decisions and able to accept the consequences of such decisions.
Children imitate parents and others adults whom they admire and respect. In recent
Years, particularly in metropolitan areas, parent education classes have been initiated in an effort to extend parenting knowledge and skills to new parents who reside mainly in nuclear families.
The relationships maintained between the spouses, with their respective parents, with the other family members and between the siblings bear a strong influence on the parenting. In the Indian context, a first – born boy enjoys better parental care than a girl. Last born is more likely to be pampered in a smaller family and neglected in a larger family. Parents who have exposure to baby and child care during their own childhood and adolescence, such as taking care of younger sibling may find parenting easier than those who have had little or no exposure to child care.
The parents of a child, born with certain gifts or disabilities are more likely to face greater parenting stress, strain and effort than parents of a normal child. Typically, educated parent maintain realistic standards, aspirations, and better relationship with their children, so to strengthen parenting skills, parents need to understand and learn about them and also about child development.
Parents with genuine interest in parenting build healthy relationship with school, neighbourhood, and community groups.
The styles of parental responses and interactions with their children can be classified into three types (Baumrind, 1971), the styles followed by parents may not fit into any one -category, as parents combine the styles depending on the situation, age and sex of the child. Further, parenting styles shift as Parents gain knowledge about the parenting process through various sources, relate their own experiences, and receive responses/feedback from the child and from significant other ground client The three parenting styles are permissive, authoritarian and authoritative.
Permissive parent give too much freedom, set no limits or boundaries, and provide no guidelines for the child to follow socially accepted norms. They employ little or no punishment. Often these parents are uninvolved in parenting and spend little time with their children, giving excuses of stress and work such parents allow their children to face difficult situations in which they have little or no experience or skill to manage on heir own and to contend with the consequences. Permissive parenting may result in children who have less self-control, become aggressive and irresponsible, and have low self-esteem,
Authoritarian parents are demanding, strict, give punishment, and do not allow choices or the freedom to express various opinions. They dislike questioning of their authority, set very high standards, and demand that their standards be satisfied. These
parents value submission, obedience and tradition, while discouraging independence and individuality. This parenting style may produce a child who lacks self-confidence, curiosity and creativity, self-control and who has low self-esteem. Under such parenting style, the child will exhibit difficulty in making one’s own decisions and behaving in a socially approved manner under given circumstance.
Authoritative parents employ explanations, discussions, reasoning; they balance their parenting style by using punishment and rewards appropriately. Punishment is never harsh or physical. Instead, it is given by way of deprivation of an opportunity or gifts. Moreover, punishment is used only when ample evidence of willful wrongdoing is observed. When children correct their behavior, they are rewarded. Rewards include praise, a pat on the shoulder; a smile or a nod. Generally, the reward is proportionate to the positive behavior that is being reinforced. Such parenting style results in children who have good self-control, high self-esteem, self-confidence, responsibility, independence and control over their emotions.
Practical Suggestions to Understand and Prevent Misbehavior in Children
Effective parenting is often challenged by misbehavior of children. Understanding why children misbehave is important to respond effectively. Children misbehave when they:
• are sleepy, sick, need fresh air, exercise and food,
• are puzzled or unsure about what is expected of them,
• need attention and love, or need to feel secure,
• want to fulfill their curiosity,
• are not physically and mentally ready or able to follow the rules,
• are bored,
• are angry, disappointed and frustrated, and
• want to assert independence.
Strategies and techniques to prevent a child’s misbehavior are as under:
• Set rules that are age-appropriate, then help the child to understand the rule and why it is important.
Suggestions for Positive Parenting
Positive parenting is the loving and supportive care provided by both parents. The parenting role has shifting its paradigm from fear-based to love-based. Positive parenting also can be termed ‘conscious parenting’, or always seeking the betterment of children in the long run. To achieve the goal of treating or rearing children in a way so that today’s children can be tomorrow’s healthy and successful adults, key issues involved are as follows:
— The happiness and harmony between father and mother are important prerequisites for a physically fit and mentally happy child.
— Maintaining harmony between parents and children is essential for positive parenting.
— Children should be allowed to explore and do things themselves to enhance their self-esteem, so that they might experience a happy, gratifying, and purposeful life.
— The parents’ own behaviors, attitudes, beliefs, and values affect greatly the child’s development. Hence, parents need to recognize their own belief system and how it can impact on the lives of their children. Further, they should attempt to keep in tune with the changing times.
— Children need unconditional love and support from their parents for healthy development. Rationalizing, reasoning, giving adequate time, and answering questions are essential on the part of parents. These childrearing practices promote the same future behaviors in their children.
— Support children emotionally at times when they need it most, so that they do not feel let down or alone. It seems likely that a child who feels emotionally isolated senses a breach of faith and trust on the part of the parents.
— Accept each child as an individual with his or her unique gifts and talents. Each child is different; hence comparison with others is unwarranted.
— Positive requests to children, without forcing them to do something, work wonders.
— Showing positive feelings and appreciation for even the small work done by the child will encourage the development of confidence and a secure self-concept (i.e., “I feel good about myself and about my abilities”).
— Listen carefully to your children and provide support and guidance.
— The relationship of parents with other members of family, relatives, and neighbors affects the general environment to which children are exposed.
— Parent education, in terms of learning and practicing good parenting skills to rear and manage today’s children, is essential. Modern-day children are more world-wise, having been exposed to many more situations than their parents, which may lead to a feeling of incompetence and helplessness on the part of the parents to manage their children.
Parenting is not an easy task. Becoming a parent is the easiest part, whereas, being a conscious and positive parent is a momentous task. Parenting is the most important role one faces in a lifetime. Parents who provide an encouraging environment for their children are rewarded when, as adults, their children realize a successful fit into the culture and society.
Parenting concepts are deeply rooted in Indian families, because of a strong, sustained tradition of educating and training young parents to accept, perform and establish enduring relationships and responsibilities with their children. Generally, the young mother is introduced to the nuances of parenting by way of the ‘hands on’ method at her parental home, and under the guidance of her mother or an experienced family member. This practice could be the reason why the need for professional parent education usually is not expressed.
Effective parenting enables children to build and develop positive behaviors and good, solid self-concepts that are important to functioning fully as a healthy adult. Parenting, as such, is greatly dependent on intra-familial issues that play a significant role in parental performance. However, parenting skills can be strengthened if parents learn about themselves as a ‘parent’ and about child development. Learning about the stages of human development helps parents understand about their ever, changing roles in the lives of their children and also what is expected of a parent at each stage. Finally, a father’s love and influence is as important as a mother’s in the life of a child. Fathers should overcome the internal and external barriers that exist to fulfill the duties of fathering.
The concept of parenting and parenthood varies according to region, and varies within the rural, urban and tribal areas in India.