Not conforming but transforming

The different parenting styles used in psychology today have different effects on children’s behaviour and can be identified by certain characteristics as well as degrees of responsiveness and demands by parents.

Jan 21, 2022


Purposeful Parenting Christine Fernandez

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians: 5-17.

2022 can be the start of the new you with purposeful parenting, by asking yourselves about your authority over your children and what sort of parenting style you want to adopt in raising them. The different parenting styles used in psychology today have different effects on children’s behaviour and can be identified by certain characteristics as well as degrees of responsiveness and demands by parents.

Studies have indicated however, that Asian parents have an authoritarian style of parenting while the western world leans more towards authoritative parenting. Looking at the signs of the times, styles of parenting have certainly changed, whether Western or Asian. These days we also have helicopter, attachment, permissive and free-range parenting styles in the study of psychology.

Asian parenting styles are strongly influenced by the cultural context of society. However, most of us are on the same page when it comes to raising children and disciplining them. We want what is best for our children and not what the child thinks is best for him/her. Therefore, let us not be “domineering over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock” 1 Peter: 5:3-2

The authoritarian parenting style has different meaning for different cultural groups. Therefore, asking yourself what it means for YOU will really help in your parenting style. We all know that authoritarian parents are, more often, strict, stern and use punitive strategies to focus on gaining the child’s obedience to parental demands, rather than responding to the demands of the child. Authoritative parents, on the other hand, are flexible and responsive to the child’s needs but still enforce reasonable standards of conduct. Permissive parents prefer to avoid conflict and mostly allow their children to do whatever they want, and offer limited guidance and direction.

However, for Asians, “strictness” and some aspects of “control” may be equated with positive characteristics such as parental concern, caring and involvement. When it comes to parenting, there is no “one size fits all”. You do not need to subscribe to one approach alone, as there may be times when using varied approaches can help the situation. All approaches must be adopted in moderation because “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and selfcontrol” 2 Timothy 1:7. Therefore, it is my belief that a combination of authoritative, authoritarian and permissive style parenting works really well in the Asian culture.

Our children do not come with manuals and we all struggle with raising mentally strong, well-rounded and successful kids. As parents, we are strict, lenient, vigilant and even distant. What do we do? Well! In purposeful parenting — know when to change the parenting style, depending on the situation.

For example, as an authoritative parent, you may want to become permissive when your child has crossed boundaries by letting him/her know that it is ok and not be too rigid about this. On the other hand, if you are a permissive parent, try and be stricter when their safety is at stake. When crossing a busy street, insist on holding hands whether your child likes it or not.

As for authoritarian parents, warmth and positive responsiveness can protect your kids from the effects of toxic stress. Given that the possibility of the authoritarian parenting style having different meaning in different cultures, it is a belief that if parenting behaviour is consistent with cultural values, children will accept it. However, bear in mind that parental behaviour and involvement plays a crucial role in the development of social and cognitive competence in children.

Though the authoritarian parenting style does not necessarily reflect as a negative style of parenting, these parents are seen as highly controlling and demanding and requiring their children to be responsive to parental demands. Furthermore, authoritarian parents are less likely to use more gentle methods of persuasion. Hence, “It is my way or the highway”.

Therefore, “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what the will of the God is, what is good and acceptable and perfect” Romans 12:2.

At the end of the day, use your best judgement and remember that the parenting style that works best for the family is one that you should use. However, always adopt “whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise - think about such things” Philippians 4:8, before acting.

What now? Well, we are raising children in the 21st century who are growing up in a different world to the one most of us experienced as children. It is a challenge adapting to this new and constantly changing world. Not only for children, but for adults too. The focus should be on raising children who are empowered to grow and have enough of a supportive structure to encourage them to become confident, resilient problem-solvers. Since the balance of power between adults and children across cultures, income groups and levels of society have changed, take a leap into the 21st century and keep up with the trends and pace with children who are growing up in today’s world, whose minds are like parachutes, they only function when they are open.

There is no richer experience that we can give our children than to see, hear and experience the fullness of the blessings that come from choosing obedience and fulfilment in God.

Therefore, I leave you with Psalm 127:3- 5 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of the warrior, so are the children of one’s youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them”. Have a blessed day.

--Christine Fernandez is a social worker, counsellor, chaplain, parent and grandparent. She would love to hear your parenting stories. Do drop her a line at: chris55sebi65@yahoo.com.au


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