While parenting styles widely vary, the idea of parenting to promote and support the social, physical, intellectual and emotional development of their children from birth to adulthood still holds ground. Parenting has never been restricted to biological relations between the child and the parents. It is for whoever is tasked with providing care for the child.
Before we embark on how parenting has changed over the last 50 years, it is essential to understand the different parenting styles that exist. Psychology today has identified four different styles of parenting. It is important to note that a parent should adjust their style to suit the requirements of their children.
Authoritative Parenting: Authoritative parents have high expectations for their children but even out these expectations by providing adequate support. It creates a healthy environment to have a parent who guides them accordingly and gives them balance.
Permissive Parenting: This type of parenting allows for high levels of the child’s freedom and autonomy. It is potentially harmful because, without the proper guidance that the parent should be providing, the child grows up with little self-control, self-discipline and little regard for social morality. Such parents are undemanding to avoid confrontations with their kids. While this type of parenting has no rules, it provides a very nurturing and loving environment.
Authoritarian Parenting: There is a lack of communication and room for the child’s freedom of expression. Parents have strict and rigid rules to which the child must adhere to failure to which a form of punishment is met. Sometimes the penalty comes with no explanation because there’s no dialogue. Children grow to be moody, stressed and less happy.
Neglectful Parenting: This is the most damaging method of parenting to a child. Neglectful parents do not care about the child’s mental, physical or emotional health whatsoever. Children with neglectful parents have a hard time establishing social relationships. They also suffer from psychological development and academic performance.
So now you know what kind of parents there are. Holding parenting styles constant, how have other factors influenced parenting over the last half a century?
Family Structure and Modelling Changes
The past considered a family with a patriarchial reign to the most ideal and the norm. The mother would stay at home and raise the children and do domestic chores while the father was the sole breadwinner. However, severe economic conditions starting in the late ‘70s saw an increase in dual-income families. It was more out of necessity than choice, as raising kids can be quite expensive. However as time passed it became clear women were equal members of the workforce. These tough economic times were actually a great time of opportunity for women when viewed through another lens.
Another change in parenting arose with the dawn of the 21st century where there was a record increase in same-sex parents. The options for having children for such parents is adoption, surrogacy or insemination. Same-sex parents are just as fit and well equipped as traditional marriage parents, though it has taken the world much too long to see this.
While fathers used to parent at an arm’s length and were limited to disciplinary and financial support roles, there has been an increase in the father’s involvement over the years. Dads now change diapers, feed the kids, play with the kids and do virtually most roles only the mother used to do. There are even stay-at-home dads while there used to be stay-at-home moms. These changes are not frowned upon anymore.
There are all kinds of changes in the structure of the family. People have dispensed with the traditional approach and are opting for whatever makes them happy and healthy.
One of the primary roles of a parent is to guide their children into practicing acceptable behavior for their benefit and also that of the society. The goal remains the same, but the disciplinary methods vary widely from decade to decade. Disciplining ideas were borrowed from the parent’s religion, historical examples and the parent’s own experiences growing up.
Between the 60’s and early 90’s physical punishment was the most common type of discipline. Parents spanked, hit, belted and swatted their children, and sometimes the parents could redirect their anger and frustrations and everyday stresses of life and take it out on their children, hurting them physically. For this reason, physical punishment has been deemed outdated and old-fashioned.
Society today has made discipline sound wrong and dirty. It is important for the parent to understand their parenting approach and make it work for them. In the 21st century, the modes of discipline are time-outs, revoking of privileges such as screen time, phones, cars, allowances and any other item the child holds essential, and in mild cases, reasoning with the child by having comprehensive and health heart-to-heart discussions.
Parenting and Technology.
Technology has had an enormous impact on parenting among all other aspects. It is a somewhat sensitive one as you can either be for or against how technology has impacted parenting trends. Before the internet, there wasn’t much change in parenting, but in the 90’s up to 2018, there have been so much rapid innovations to impact the world significantly.
• GPS monitoring, other than privacy violations, tech comes in handy when you need to find your child in dire circumstances.
• Communication for traveling and far away parents has been made easier so there may be fewer cases of abandonment issues.
• Information for both the children and parents is much easier to access, including advice and educational information.
• Parents may use iPads and other screens to avoid parenting. They use technology as a crutch when they don’t want to deal with their children. This is dangerous because it denies the children the opportunity to learn manners when dealing with stressful situations. Instead, it introduces cases where such children who turn into adults will tend to run or ignore their problems instead of dealing with them.
• Technology introduces the children to a world before they are emotionally and mentally ready. They don’t know how to identify pedophiles or how to deal with cyber bullies. There have been cases where children have committed suicide after instances of cyberbullying.
• Keeping your child glued to a screen also affects how their brain and body develops. Copious amounts of screen time have been linked to attention problems and obesity in growing children.
Parents should set apart time interacting with the world on the other side of the screen and quality time spent knowing their children more.
Security and Freedom
People no longer live in communities where everyone knows everyone else. Moving away from extended family and friends is scary, and in a new place where you don’t know your neighbor, it is easy to see the reason why you want to keep your children safe.
90’s babies used to tell their parents where they’re going, get on their bike and be back when the street lights went on. And, even before then parents always knew their children were safe. Cases of abductions, disappearances and gruesome murdered rising since 2010 is enough to make any parent want to be cautious over the whereabouts of their children.
The increase in an overall fear is not entirely out of paranoia. Parents are busier, trying to keep up with different economic necessities. This means there are fewer adults around to look out for the children so limiting their freedoms is the alternative to keeping them safe.
Communication Changes in Parenting.
Communication has also taken a turn for the better in the last 50 years. In the 60s, children were afraid of talking to their parents especially their fathers. The sheer hassle of providing left parents tired and unamused by children incessant tendencies. Children with such parents would have to come up with ways to solve their problems. In the 90s it was much easier to talk to parents about their day to day lives and issues.
Parents are teaching their children the importance of self-care. All the same, they also understand the importance of an emotionally fulfilled parent. As parents continue to have open conversations with their children, they also learn to love their children as they are. With this, comes the issue of freedoms.
Millenials, and children born in the 2010s:
These children have more knowledge of their freedoms than those who have come before them. Freedom of thought to determine freely in its spirit, conceptions and mental and spontaneous representations. Freedom of consciousness which covers ethical and philosophical convictions and has the assertion that all human beings have an awareness and a reason. And, freedom of religion. More people are converting to atheism or paganism, and many people understand the need to respect other people’s freedom of religion. This freedom allows for children to have a conviction of their choice and to show it freely. Children are taught that they’re free to determine the religion and conviction of their choice as soon as they reach an age to have sufficient discernment.
Children are also being taught or becoming more aware of their liberty of opinion from those of their parents, freedom of expression from those of an adult and freedom of association. Parents are teaching their kids how to explain themselves sufficiently and argue their position. In the past, children were left to their experiences and interactions to sculpt their communication skills.
Parents have also evolved from yelling at their kids to having more calm discussions and arguing out their positions rationally. Parents listen more than they used to, they offer more input, words of encouragement and praise than they used to.
Source of advice. Parents formerly used to rely on parenting advice from their parents, siblings, aunts, and uncles. In the modern day, the internet provides inexhaustible resources from websites, blogs, e-books, online therapists etc.
Rights vs. privileges. Each decade has had its distinct struggles, economic and otherwise. Everybody has high expectations of comfort, contention, and fulfillment and in the last two decades, the lines between privilege, gifts, and rights are blurry. Parents have taught their children to be entitled to things instead of earning the opportunities. Children throw tantrums when there aren’t enough gifts under the Christmas tree when their phone isn’t the latest model when they don’t have a particular food for lunch or dinner and even when they don’t have a certain amount of allowance at their disposal. The responsibilities awarded have become fewer and fewer as they are outsourced to tech or help, and an example of a consequence is most children don’t even know how to wash their undergarments.
Under the best of circumstances, parenting is already a difficult task. It can be easy to critique a parent who is already doing the best they can. Besides some children come out with a mercurial temperament, making shaping them all that much harder. In a society that continues to judge destructively, the best thing any parent can remember is parenting problems more often than not reflect the society’s problem, not your own
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