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Analysis of the Parenting Role

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This essay aims to present an analysis of the parental role, by addressing the following subtopics and showing how they are all interrelated:  The development of parenting skills, parental values and attitudes which accompany stages in the development of the child, methods of effective guidance, role of discipline (comparing and contrasting discipline with punishment), discussing constructive and destructive elements in parenting styles, identifying at least three categories of parenting styles, including an overview of the parenting behaviours associated with each style and the results obtained from each.  I refer to concrete experiences, thinking and processing and learning outcomes.

Subtopic One – Discuss the development of parenting skills

Concrete Experience

I have encountered some new parents think that they know everything about parenting but as my children get older, I have realised how much there is to learn.  I am now at the point where I realize that there is still a lot to learn but the experience that they have already gained could be of value or interest to other parents.  There are ways to accelerate and hone our parenting skills.

Thinking and Processing

I believe that if we want to raise happy children we must commit to learning good parenting skills. There are a number of ways of doing this – we can find a mentor, we can study developmental behavior in children so that we know how to distinguish what is normal from what is abnormal.

Learning Outcomes

The right type of knowledge will assist us to stimulate our child’s development, whereas with the wrong type of skills we can unknowingly stifle them. (Larimore, 2004)

Sub-topic Two – Discuss parental attitudes and values that accompany stages in the development of the child

Concrete Experience

     Parental attitudes have a profound impact on the attitudes and psychological development of the child.  I once read an interesting statement:  Tell a child that he is a naughty boy and it is inevitable that he will be naughty – you have told him that he is naughty, thus he knows that is how he is expected to behave.  It is a self fulfilling prophecy. Conversely, tell a child that he is good and behavior to suit will follow.  We can definitely instill values and attitudes into our children.  I  attended my son’s first grade orientation and the headmaster had specifically asked parents to not talk negatively about school, teachers, or education in front of their children – their negative attitudes would rub off on the children.  The same is true of anything – I am a booklover, and my husband loves computers – so do my children.

Conversely, if the parents were enthusiastic about schooling the children would have a positive approach towards it and were likely to fare much better.

Thinking and Processing

Messages that we give can be conscious and subconscious.  Parents transmit a wide range of values and attitudes to their children, through either direct tuition or unintentional commentary.

Learning Outcomes

Children learn to think about, react to, be concerned with certain events and people in prescribed and approved ways.  Family figures serve as models. (Davis, 1999).

Sub-topic Three – Analyze Methods of Effective Guidance

Concrete Experience

There are various methods of guidance.  We can be informative and on hand to provide advice in certain situations, for example when a child is watching television.  I use an informative method of guidance – sitting with the children, encouraging or discouraging the child to watch certain programs without offering a rationale, and talking about the program that the child views in a non-evaluative manner. (Sprafkin, Gadow and Abelman, 1992).  In addition, during school holidays and after school I sit with my children, show that I am enthusiastic about their work and discuss what they have done.

Thinking and Processing

An involved attitude and an interest in what your child is doing is in order, without wanting to take over and do it all

for them.

Learning Outcomes

Children raised in families where there is a lack of parental guidance demonstrate insecure, attention seeking behavior and inadequate impulse control, self discipline and self control.  This can cause difficulty when the child begins school and is expected to conform and behave in a certain way.  (Jacob, 2005).  But those children who are raised in a positive manner will cope well at school and will become good, contributing members of society.

Sub-Topic Four – Discuss the role of discipline; compare and contrast discipline with punishment

Concrete Experience

     There was a time when my son would be naughty, be sent to  the corner in punishment and then come out and do exactly the same thing again.  And then I realized that I wasn’t explaining to him properly what it was that he shouldn’t be doing!  The child was in the corner not sure what he had done wrong. After explaining it nicely to him he didn’t do it any more. He was now being disciplined and taught how not to behave, not punished for something he didn’t know was wrong.

Thinking and Processing

     In a nutshell we as parents have to ensure that our child becomes a valuable contributing member of society.  That is the role of discipline, and it is learnt in our houses, schools and communities – any place to which our children are exposed.  Our children’s moral values, and the type of person they become depends to a large extent upon us.  In essence the role of discipline is to show the child the right way to behave in a constructive and positive manner – to build a feeling of positivity about the child.

So therefore discipline is a positive thing, but punishment is a negative, destructive way of trying to correct a child.  It is worth remembering that the child will take their lead from us. If we talk in a negative, undermining way to them they will do the same to others, and very often to their own children too.  By being positive and constructive to our children, we can create a legacy of positivity and become good role models to our children who may very possibly follow in our styles of parenting later in life.  I believe that children, when grown up, either adapt a similar way of living that we have, or will actively rebel and try to go the other way, depending on how we have done it.

     Although the two words are sometimes used in an interchangeable manner, they have different meanings. Discipline emphasizes what a child should do, punishment what he should not.  Discipline is an ongoing occurrence, punishment is once off.  Discipline sets an example, punishment insists upon obedience.  Discipline leads to self control, punishment undermines self confidence.

Learning Outcomes

Discipline helps children to change and punishment is a release for adults.  Discipline is positive, punishment negative, discipline accepts the child’s need to self assert, punishment makes children behave.  Discipline fosters the child’s ability to think, punishment thinks for the child. Discipline bolsters self esteem and shapes behavior, while punishment defeats self esteem and condemns misbehavior (Thakur, 2005)

Sub-Topic Five – Discuss constructive and destructive elements in parenting styles; identify at least three categories of parenting styles; include an overview of the parenting behaviors associated with each style and the results obtained from each

     There are a variety of parenting styles.  From one point of view there are as many parenting styles as there are parents!  But for the purposes of this essay let’s define and discuss three commonly accepted styles:

The Authoritarian Parenting Style

     This is low on emotional nurturing and support, but high on parental direction and control.  The parent following this style has the attitude that he or she is in control and will set and enforce the rules, no matter what.  Parents following this style are considered emotionally aloof or harsh, and often use physical or otherwise harsh punishment (Lamana and Riedmann, 2005).

This aspect of the lack of emotional support can only be considered to be a destructive aspect, and could have a profound impact on the child:  Poor self image, depression, lack of self confidence could all result from this starvation of emotional affection. It could also lead to a will from the child to break the rules – rebelliousness in teenagers is not uncommon.

However, there are positives to this style of parenting too – the child will learn aspects of discipline.  Boundaries have been drawn.  The child learns that there are rules that govern society, and this is a constructive aspect.

Laissez-Faire Parenting Style

     In contrast to the authoritarian parenting style, this style employs little or no parental control and allows children to set their own limits.  This is a destructive component.  While this is low on parental direction or control, it may be high on emotional nurturing – which situation invariably leads to the “spoilt child”, also a destructive aspect.  Spoilt children often become spoilt adults too and may get a huge shock in later life when they realize that the world does not revolve around them entirely.  This is a particularly common problem in China which employs a one child policy –  there is a generation of spoilt children, so called little emperors and empresses (Foreign Correspondent, 2005).

This style is characterized by the statement that parents often give into the arguing, whining and other demands of the child.”

There is a variant to this style, when the parent is both low on emotional support and control – which is in fact a state of neglect.  These styles are both associated with problems experienced by the child in the relationship in all phases of life – childhood, the teens and adulthood, including depression, teen pregnancy, suicide, etc. (Lamanna and Riedmann, 2005)

Authoritative Parenting Style

     This is the style which is preferred by psychologists.  It’s described as warm, firm and fair, and combines emotional nurturing and caring with support and parental direction.  This involves providing plenty of encouragement to the child, accepting the individuality and the personality of the child, while assisting the child with his or her emerging independence.  Simultaneously, rules and limits must be set and enforced.  As the child matures, the parent will increasingly incorporate the child’s opinion in the setting of these rules and regulations.  The child’s activities and behavior is monitored in this style, and any naughtiness is suitably dealt with.  These parents communicate rules clearly and concisely, consider their children’s opinions, value their child’s school efforts and expect their children to act independently at a suitable age. (Lamanna and Riedmann, 2005).   These parents are exceptionally involved with their children.

Do bear in mind that each child is different to any other, and this style allows every child to develop in the best way possible for the child.

Another thing that I believe to be of vital importance is that, in a two parent family, both parents have the same outlook on parenting and hope to achieve the same thing out of it.  In families where the parents are at loggerheads about how the children should be raised, the situation can be exceptionally stressful.

Concrete Experience

     I myself was raised in the authoritarian manner.  Although I know that there are rules, I find myself wanting to push them.  My brother was raised in the same manner, and dropped out of school at 16, and cannot find stability now, even though he is in his 30s.  I feel emotionally starved and am looking everywhere for acceptance.

Thinking and Processing

A child needs to know the rules and that they are loved and accepted.  Depression and feelings of selfworthlessness can be avoided in this way!

Learning and Outcomes

I have made sure to bring my own children up in a loving and nurturing home.

Subtopic 6: Discuss the challenges to responsible and effective parenting presented by contemporary society

Concrete Experience

Which of us has not been in a shop, had a two year old having a tantrum in the aisles and had stares from disapproving strangers, as I have been?  You may have tried all other forms of negotiation, and may have realized that a short sharp smack on the bottom is going to be the only thing to sort out the situation. What do you do?  Do you smack your child or not?  Of course, a smack is never the first thing you turn to, but let’s face it, discipline in schools has become out of hand since corporal punishment has been abolished.  But the stares of strangers and the shocked comments undermine the parent in the shopping situation.

This is just one situation where contemporary society presents a challenge to parenting, and there are so many more that will face us as parents, that we need to have an effective manner of dealing with them.

Parents themselves can feel undermined by other parents, the ones who appear to be “perfect”.

Learning and Processing

In addition, today’s child is not as free as the children of yesteryear, for a variety of reasons.  Parents have more demands on their time and have less time to spend with their children.  A lot of parents come home, and are too tired to cook or spend time with their children – so the children watch television (feature length videos and DVDs aimed at children are far more readily available than they were 20 years ago) and eat fast food. Computer games are also very popular.  None of this is good for their health.

Also because of crime and other concerns, children are not free to roam the streets as they were years ago.  A large percentage of children have to go to daycare. This leaves a lot less time for sports and things like that.  The bottom line is that children are not getting as much physical activity as they should be.  If our children do do any extramural activities they are driven there, as opposed to walking, because of the constraints on our time and our fears about crime.

  Occupational therapy is a career that has become more in demand in recent years, and benign hypotonia (low muscle tone) is much more commonly diagnosed now than it was in the 1980s.  I believe that one of the main reasons for this is that parents simply do not have the time to make their children do physical activity.

Learning Outcomes

The challenge to parents is to overcome this.  Encourage children to play sports.  Take on a flexi time job or work from home so that the children’s needs can be incorporated. Limit computer time and television time. Invest in jungle gyms and garden equipment (which can still be rented relatively cheaply in some countries).  Parents must make adaptations to counteract the problems that are being more commonly found in children.  All of the above are in line with the authoritative parenting style and will not be too hard an adaptation for these types of parents, in fact many of them are already doing it.  So we can see that challenges facing parents these days are numerous and from both other parents and from changes in lifestyle, but they can be overcome.


     By the above analysis and discussion which looks at concrete experience, thoughts and processing and learning outcomes, we can see that the parental role in the modern day is influenced by a number of things: Whether parents themselves develop effective personal skills, parental attitudes and values which have an impact upon the child, methods of guidance adopted by the parent and whether these are effective or not, the roles of discipline and punishment and how they are employed by parents, and the parenting styles adopted by parents – constructive and destructive elements, and the challenges to responsible and effective parenting presented by today’s society.  In order to be successful, the modern day parent must make adaptations in order to be seen to be acting in the best interests of the child.

All of the above elements have a distinct and important impact upon the outcome of our parenting – the type of person that our child becomes, and more importantly perhaps, the quality of life that they enjoy.

Works Cited

Davis, Roger, 1999, “Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology”, Oxford University Press

Foreign Correspondent, 2005, “China – One Child Policy”, retrieved 10 December 2005 from the website http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/content/2005/s1423772.htm

Jacob, Theodore, 2005, “Family Interaction and Psychology”

Lamana, Mary Ann, and Riedmann, Agnes, (2005), “Marriages and Families, Making Choices in a Diverse Society”, Thomas Wadworth

Larimore, Walt, 2004, “God’s design for the Highly Healthy Child”, Zondervan, Michigan

Sprafkin, Joyce, Gadow, Kenneth and Abelman, Robert (1992), “Television and the Exceptional Child: A Forgotten Audience”, Lawrence Erbaum Associates New Jersey

Thakur, Geeta, 2005, “Child Discipline and Punishment”, retrieved 10 December 2005 from the website http://www.indianchild.com/child_discipline_punishment.htm

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