I recalled an incident from a year ago. We were in a restaurant and my son then around 3 years of age wasn’t listening to me. He just wanted to wander around and had a big temper tantrum when we were about to leave. I was discussing this behaviour with one of my friends that he has a lot of temper tantrums, I worried that his speech delay was one of the reasons for this erratic behaviour. Since he wasn’t able to have a proper one-to-one conversation with us it was difficult to explain anything to him. I wondered if I should go for another opinion on his development. When I said these things my friend suggested, that I should also get counselling for myself and assess and find if there is any issue in my parenting style. That hurt me momentarily and it got me thinking is that even possible. Can my parenting style hinder my child’s development? So, I opened all my notes on developmental psychology, googled this particular topic, and researched and spoke to a few psychologists and therapists. And I realized that yes parenting style does impact the child but does it really cause a developmental delay. Let’s find out more below.
To listen to the audio podcast on this topic, click below –
There are four types of parenting styles –
1. Authoritarian (or Disciplinarian)
2. Permissive (or Indulgent)
3. Neglectful (or Uninvolved)
I know now you are thinking about how are these different from each other. I will tell you but what is the best way to understand these. Hmmmm! Let me think, Hmmm!
OK, Idea! I will tell you a few stories. And trust me these are all based on real-life stories, that will help explain the parenting styles better.
There was a little girl in 3rd grade. She had got her surprise test result and was asked to get it signed by one of her parents but she was scared to show the result to her parents. She had failed. Her parents had very high expectations of her. Anything below A-grade was unacceptable forget failing. She was scared and decided not to show the results to her parents and act as if nothing happened. She stayed aloof for a couple of days. When her teacher asked her to submit the signed result back to school, she felt sick. Ultimately, she decided to forge her father’s signature. She used carbon paper and traced the signature on her test paper. When her teacher saw the signature, she was shocked. The teacher called her father and enquired if he knew about the surprise maths test result that was sent home with the daughter. He denied any knowledge of it. The teacher requested he visit the school and meet the principal the next day to discuss. The father was furious, although he had no idea about the forged signature, he was angry that how could his daughter not show the result to them. In the evening, he called his daughter and sternly asked about the maths test and the little girl started crying. There was no explanation sought of her but was given a thrashing for being a disobedient child. The next day at school, when the teacher showed the father the forged signature, he lost his temper and blamed the girl for being a delinquent. The girl was in the principal’s cabin and was asked a reason for this behaviour. The girl broke down and said that she is just afraid of her parents, they have high expectations of her and she is unable to cope and keep up with them.
This is Authoritarian or what is also known as the disciplinarian style of parenting. Such parents have strict rules and high expectations of their children. They simply expect blind obedience and are not open to providing leverage in the rules set for their children. The little girl in this story lacked self-esteem and started having even poorer academic performance. She did not possess any great social skills because her mind was being trained to only succeed and failure was an embarrassment. Failure was unacceptable, this mindset diminished her mental health.
What is the worst that this kind of parenting can do to a child – it’s never going to prepare the child to face failures because it’s linked in their minds to only win. As they grow, they may go into depression and also opt to abuse themselves with drugs and alcohol or also commit crimes.
A 10-year-old was invited to his best friend’s birthday party. The party was going great and everyone was enjoying it to the fullest. After the party, this boy stayed back and helped his friends unwrap his gifts. He saw that the friend has got a brand-new video game as one of the gifts and he wanted that game too. He went home and told his parents about the video game, and his father agreed to get him one. The next day, his father did bring the video game as promised but it was not the latest version that his friend had. The father simply said that was all he could get for now. His father offered to play it with him, every day. He showed him all the features the game had. But the boy was unhappy, and to avoid disappointment, the parents decided to exchange the video game and bought him the exact same video game his friend had. The boy was thrilled and showed it off to everyone in the neighbourhood. The family carried on living a good life. The parents were warm and lenient and got the boy everything he asked for. They hated to see their boy disappointed and fulfilled all his wishes. Until one day, the boy asked for a motorbike. He was not even at the legal age of driving and so his parents refused to comply with this demand. The boy had never known rejection, he could not stand the fact that they won’t get him something he had his eyes on. With his egocentric mindset, he took an untoward decision. He stole a motorbike.
This is what one gets for being a permissive parent. The boy in this story had never tasted disappointment. He thought the world was at his feet, with his parents getting him everything he put a finger on. He was arrested for theft, and his parents were able to get him out on bail. But he had only developed impulsive behaviour that led him to even bad decision making.
What’s the worst the child gets from such indulgent parenting? They might never have good relationships with anyone because adjusting to others never comes off easy for them. The egoist mind only ticks them off, if it’s not their way.
There was a boy who grew up with super busy parents. He had everything except time from his parents. His room was filled with the latest toys and as he grew, he also got the latest gadgets. There was minimal to low emotional bonding with the parents. As a small child when he asked to play with them, they would simply refuse as they had other important things to do. He was an intelligent child, good in academics and loved playing football. But he was never appreciated when he scored in the class or won a football trophy. There were no rewards for good jobs or any scolding for bad behaviour. The boy grew aloof naturally and resorted to making friends on the internet. He spoke to a lot of strangers and felt comfort in sharing his feelings with them. Gradually he met a guy on the internet and became good friends with him. The boy got so close with this internet friend that he shared every small detail of his lonely life. Puberty was hitting the boy and he had no one else to turn to as he didn’t have the comfort to talk about it to his parents. So came the internet friend to rescue. The friend shared his knowledge and led him to some pornographic sites. Everything was new and amazing for the boy and he indulged in self-pleasure activities which were later taken online. But the worst thing hit him when he found that, the activities he thought were private online were actually recorded and already available for viewing by the world. The boy was embarrassed and now had no one to turn to.
The neglectful style of parenting only makes a child impulsive. Limited to no guidance does lead them into taking the wrong steps. The boy in this story was brilliant and had parents who were uninvolved in his daily affairs. The boy was ashamed of himself and instead of seeking help from anyone he preferred to kill himself.
It was a sad ending and I am sorry if this story has triggered you in any manner. If you feel it’s too much to take, I would request you to stop reading and take a break. Come back as soon as you feel comfortable. Next, we are going to talk about the most important style of parenting – Authoritative.
If you are still there or just back from the break now, thank you for not leaving it midway. Let me go ahead with the last story in this bit.
There was a girl who was strict with her routine. Wake up at 6 AM, get ready and be at school by 8 AM, Back from school, at 1 PM, lunch and rest for 2 hours and then evening classes at 4 PM, back home and playtime at 6 PM, Dinner is done and off to bed at 9 AM. She had been raised to follow a timeline for herself, although it was not imposed or designed for her. She was disciplined to curate her day to get the maximum productivity out of it. She once applied for an annual quiz competition in her school and prepared hard for it. The first two rounds were great but she was eliminated in the third round. Disappointed and upset she turned to her parents for comfort. All her parents could tell her was – “Try again next year, prepare yourself even better.” She did as told, worked hard and attempted the quiz competition again. This time she won.
What’s so special about this girl? She knew what was expected of her but she also knew it was ok to not meet expectations a few times. She was independent to make her choices and found support when she turned to her parents.
This is what a child needs from their parents – clear rules and expectations but also warm, involved, and supportive of the child’s needs and choices. It’s a balanced mix of good traits from Authoritarian and Permissive and not at all Neglectful.
Despite all these stories and concepts, not every parent can follow the same set of protocols and not every child can be raised with the same style of parenting. It is recommended to be an Authoritative parent but you as a parent can decide what parenting practices you need to apply. You know your child better.
Each day is different and no two days can go exactly the same for you as a human being. You have your own ups and downs in the day that will alter your mood and so impact your parenting. Unless you have decided to completely ignore your child, everything works better. You can decide the intensity of the warmth you would want to give and the gravity of how demanding you want to be of your child. Parents got to work their expectations on an equilibrium of their child’s development and learning power.
All stories are done and coming back to where this started from. Does parenting style impact a child’s development? Well, it doesn’t.
Some parenting practices can hinder the behaviour and self-esteem of the child but it doesn’t cause any development delay like speech delay and language delay, or learning disabilities like dyslexia, dysgraphia, or dyscalculia. Neither does it have anything to do with you if the child gets diagnosed with Autism or ADHD.
There are different medical reasons for these learning disorders and developmental delays. If you see your child not meeting milestones or not behaving as you were expecting for the age or if you just have doubts, contact a professional. Get a diagnosis, get multiple opinions. But kindly do not blame yourself for any of it. And if you see another parent struggling, offer help and not criticise them for being a parent. Every parent is trying to raise a star and will not knowingly cause harm to their child.