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The life of parents changes dramatically when their child is born. From the very beginning of a child's life, they have to make decisions: whether use bottle or breast feeding; stroller or carriage; daycare or nanny; to make a career or to stay at home in order to bring up the child, and many other decisions. Children who grow up in an atmosphere of love and understanding have fewer problems with health, fewer difficulties with schooling and socializing with peers, and vice versa, as a rule, the violation of child-parent relationship leads to the formation of various psychological problems and complexes. A parenting style is a system of different feelings and behavioral patterns practiced in communion with a child, the characteristics of perception and understanding of the nature and identity of the child, his/her deeds. For the development of positive parent-child relationships, adults must have a certain level of knowledge about parenting and relationships with the child.
Parenting is the most important task of the modern family. Nancy Darling defines a parenting style as “a complex activity that includes many specific behaviors that work individually and together to influence child outcomes.” Halpenny, Nixon, and Watson stated that “parenting styles, behaviors and discipline practices have elicited attention, debate and investigation across sociological, socio-legal and psychological disciplines”.
Different parents treat their children in different ways. The development of the child's personality depends on what parenting style prevails in the family. Using different disciplinary approaches, Mr. and Mrs. Harsh-Heart and Mr. and Mrs. Easy-Going try to create necessary conditions for their children to grow as harmonious personalities.
Mr. and Mrs. Harsh-Heart adopted a highly authoritarian style, which is also called a dictatorial style. The rules established by these parents are followed strictly by the children. However, it should be said that Mr. and Mrs. Harsh-Heart, like many other parents, do it with warmth and affection. Child`s failure to obey these rules usually results in punishment, sometimes in spanking. There exists a vexed question whether spanking a child is ethical. This is a very controversial problem.
Parental passion for excellent upbringing sometimes prevents this natural process. Today, there are a lot of talks about the fact that physical punishment of children is unacceptable and that it does not bring the expected results, and even vice versa. The slogans proclaiming that the child is a free person sound everywhere; they prove that parents must listen to the needs of their children and allow them to evolve freely. The result is that finding a middle ground is becoming more difficult. The parents are torn between the poles of authoritarianism and permissiveness.
The desire to «educate» their offspring always exists in spite of liberal views of parents. One cannot disagree with the fact that child's obedience equates to a good education. An active child is a spontaneous child; he/she is able to pass decisions. Every parent decides for himself whether it is ethical or unethical to beat the child, nevertheless it is better not to resort to such forms of education and try to surround the child with warmth and care. The child will not always listen to the repressive parents. Halplenny et al. declared:
The majority of parents use non-aggressive discipline strategies with their children recently. In particular, verbal reasoning through calm discussion of an issue with a child is adopted by almost all parents.
Authoritarian parents like Mr. and Mrs. Harsh-Heart fail to explain the reasons of their decisions. Believing in the importance of stern discipline and imposing strict rules on children, they hope their methods will help them in the future. They penalize a bad child's behavior severely. Spanking a child is a normal episode in their family. Like other parental styles, authoritarian style has both advantages and disadvantages.
Children who grow up under the influence of authoritarian parenting can be quite docile. This style helps them to be obedient and responsible citizens in the future. It can be considered as a benefit. Upon reaching adulthood, these children could become professionals and good "performers" in their work. It can also be regarded as an advantage.
At the same time, the authoritarian style has far more flaws that play a crucial role in the development of the child's personality. Parents who adhere to this parenting style require outstanding achievements from their child. Such parents punish failures, control tightly, invade the personal space of the child, depress the power, and solve for the child; they are not interested in the personal opinion of the child and do not recognize his/her rights.
With this in mind, it stands to reason that in this style of parenting, a child is unable to take the initiative as all questions pertaining to his/her life are decided without his/her participation, only by parents. The authoritarian parenting style involves the solution of conflicts by the "carrot and stick", bans and threats, rather than finding a compromise solution.
In adolescence, parental authority loses its power and the fear of parents, which is typical of an authoritarian parenting style, disappears. Therefore, there are many conflicts in these families. Very often children become "unmanageable" because all previous parenting means of influencing children lose their force.
The characteristic features of a child brought up in an authoritarian style may be the following: the development of a weak position in life, loss of self-esteem, loss of ability to make decisions and to be responsible for the choice, and loss of one's own desires. What is more, development of a despotic personality of a child might flourish. Hatred of the parents becomes a trait of character. Coarse, cynical, oppressive, and boorish behavior and attitude towards others appears. One more possible drawback of this parenting style is that there are many chances that the child will turn into a rebel who struggles against the will of his/her parents.
In order to avoid all the pitfalls of the authoritarian style, parents have to take into account the position of a child, his/her motivations, desires, and experiences. They have to try to give instructions in the form of suggestions rather than orders. Parents should talk with their children in confident and emotional tone. Prohibitions and penalties must be clear stated to a child. Parents need to be tolerant of the shortcomings of their children. They should see as often as possible an equal person in a child.
For many centuries, this parenting style was leading, but nowadays, more and more parents try to make their parenting style more democratic. Among them are Mr. and Mrs. Easy- Going. They do not use punishment to enforce their rules on their children. They believe in natural consequences teaching lessons and setting limits on behavior. Mr. and Mrs. Easy- Going practice regular family meetings with children in order to discuss household rules and their importance to the family dynamics.
Mr. and Mrs. Easy-Going adopted democratic parenting. It is the best way to treat a child. Undoubtedly, there are also both advantages and disadvantages. However, this style has much more positive aspects than negative ones.
Self-reliance and discipline in the child's behavior is highly appreciated by the democratic parents. Children get the right to be independent in some areas of their lives, without prejudice. This control is based on the warm feelings and reasonable care. Formation of adulthood in this parenting style eventuates without conflicts.
A democratic style is defined by the following parameters: a high level of verbal communication between parents and children: including children in discussions of family problems, taking into account their views; willingness of parents to help them while it will be necessary. Such parents have strong faith in the success of self-activity of their child.
In families with a democratic style of parenting, children were characterized by moderate capacity for leadership, aggressiveness, and the desire to control other children. Children from these families are distinguished by good physical development and social activity. It is easy for them to contact with their peers. Using this style of communication, parents can expect that their child will be brought up as an independent, distinctive personality.
The most harmonious and comprehensive development of the child occurs in the democratic style. Children who are brought up in such families are characterized by the ability to make decisions and take responsibility for their actions, ability to build close and friendly relationships with others, to negotiate and find compromises, and to take into consideration the opinion of others.
On the other hand, as Crowley, Donovick, and Rodriguez stated:
An authoritarian parenting style is characterized by low responsiveness, high demandingness, and low levels of autonomy granting. An authoritative parenting style is characterized by high responsiveness, high demandingness, and autonomy granting. A permissive parent shows high levels of responsiveness and autonomy granting and low levels of demandingness.
In conclusion, it should be said that many aspects of parenting style depends on the type of child's temperament. This fact should be taken into consideration. In order to bring up a good and bright person, parents should devote their life to this process, without relying it on anyone else. One should give a lot of his/her time to the child and share his/her attention, affection, and love.
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