Last week in this column, we looked at how authoritarian and permissive styles of parenting are opposite sides of an extreme that may unintentionally lead our precious sprouts to mental health challenges like depression and even suicidal tendencies.
Today, we’ll take a dive into the middle course style; the authoritative parenting.
Authoritative Parenting: These parents are both demanding and responsive. They are an integration of other two parenting styles; setting clear rules and expectations but also encouraging discussion and give and take especially as their children get older and are able to take more responsibility for them. Such parents monitor and impart clear standard for their children’s conduct. They are assertive but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, self-regulated as well as cooperative.
This takes effort. It is based on the use of authentic power. It does not judge a child as wrong or bad- but allows us to bond with our children. Through the use of authentic power, we seek to understand rather than judge, love unconditionally, build positive self-concepts and to make sure everyone wins. Children become empowered, motivated and develop control from inside. They learn self-responsibility and to listen quietly for inner guidance whether an authority figure is present or not. It teaches children that they are their own source of happiness as control over behaviour becomes internal and contributes to the child’s self-esteem.
Mutual respect is inevitable for if your child does not feel respected by you, it’s unlikely that he’ll respond to your attempts to win his cooperation. The best way you get children to respect your rights is to respect theirs. Respect can no longer be demanded or expected- it must be earned. Children parented this way experience closeness, respect, cooperation, joy, awareness and mental wellbeing and balance.
It is so easy to use coercive force (authoritarian parenting) because that’s how most of us were parented. Yet, it seldom gives us the satisfaction we are seeking in our relationships. It takes careful thought to parent in an authoritative way. It is however, achievable.
Parenting Style And Depression
Parenting style is related to child’s motivation, level of depression, problem behaviour and self-esteem. There seems to be a marked increased possibility for adult depression when neither parent expresses warmth, care and affection- symptoms of both extreme parenting styles- authoritarian/autocratic and the permissive/indulgent style.
Research has found significant positive relationship between depression and authoritarian and permissive parenting styles. It indicates that the more the authoritarian and permissive parenting styles, the higher the level of depression. However, there was no significant relationship between depression and authoritative parenting style.
This has some implications for parents. Educating parents on how their behaviour can contribute to and help to diminish adolescent depression is very important. The school and home are the integral and the most important institutions of the society, still there are several causal factors of depression which operate outside these two institutions. It is the home and school together where a child spends about three/fourth of his total time. Parents should, therefore, set an ideal before the children. They should try to be real guides of their children and try to know their needs and adjust them to their desirable needs and aspirations.
Children should be treated well by the parents. Parents should try to understand the feelings of adolescents. Expectations should be according to their caliber as well as potentialities. The teacher should teach not only math and geography and biology, but, should strive to develop a strong and positive connection and concept of life in the students.
Conclusively, this topic has implications for parents, teachers, educational planners and curriculum makers. It is their responsibilities to root out the causes of distress, fear, depression and frustration in students by adopting the socially acceptable ways and to plan educational procedures suited to their capabilities so that they become mentally healthy and productive members of the society and can work for their own well-being as well as for the wellbeing of their nation.
Finally, it is not a sign of strength to mute over mental health challenges. The sign of strength is to reach out for help. When in need, just ask!
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