Parenting is a crucial job of life. It facilitates physical, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Patterns of parenting differ greatly from one community to another as the nature of social values and importance vary worldwide. Research shows that parental history in terms of attachment with the child, and parental psychopathologies strongly influence a child’s development. A parenting pattern is indicative of the overall emotional climate.
Key parenting patterns Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind identifies three main parenting patterns: authoritative, authoritarian and permissive. The authoritative parenting is medium level responsiveness from the parents who reinforce punishment and support the development of child’s autonomy within reasonable limits. Both control and support are balanced. But the authoritarian parenting pattern is very strict, rigid and has non-negotiable set of rules. Punishment is used to ensure future compliance. Likewise, in permissive parenting, a child’s freedom is highly valued.
This has become a more popular parenting method among middle and upper class families than the working class ones. Families with strong financial background prefer to provide their children a non-interfering atmosphere. Cotemporary parenting in the East imitates the West. We seem to be extremely anxious of our children’s future. Those who come from the families that severely struggled in the past often tend to forget how they were reared. We want to erase our own stories of struggle to make our children feel that we have a decent pedigree. We want our children not to undergo the same experience of struggle like ours. We do not expect them to experience defeat, harassment, poverty, insecurity, humiliation and so on. They are provided with all comforts.
We are ready to sacrifice anything for our children to ease their growth. Nowadays parents buy very expensive accessories for their children. They cannot see their children at any discomforts. When children’s school age begins, parents fetch them to school gate and reach there to receive them before the classes end. They expect their teachers to take a decent care of their children. Good manners and hygienic foods and snacks are more important than what their children learn at school. Learning is believed to go automatically without stressing children to focus on reading and writing.
The modern pedagogy sets its curricula so as to make children learn skills and choose their preferences independent of any pressure on the part of parents. It imagines that the children left free to make a choice of their own subjects are more prudent and careful about making their selection. The parents who bear all the discomforts for the comforts of their children are supposed to be just facilitators. But by taking all the burden of their children, parents deprive them from experiencing sorrows, suffering, struggle, difficulties, defeat, failure or success. Showering them with all blessings alone cannot make them capable to face various challenges in life. It is said that to be a complete person, we need to undergo firsthand experience of all good and evils of the world. But modern parenting imagines a more sympathetic notion of children. Parental love is supposed to be sufficient to help kids set their path of their adulthood. But, are we doing well with such a protective view towards our children? The question is forcing us to think over our current practices in terms of child rearing.
What counts most precious is that children should be brought up with positive notions about themselves, their family, society and country. They should be instilled essentials of life. They should learn art, music, sports, dance, singing, solving riddles, science and technology, medicine and meditation. Besides, they should learn about good public relation. They should also learn to cook, wash, and scrub for themselves. Rich parents today do not want their children to do indoor domestic chores. Even children expect their parents to manage someone to do those chores for them.
But depriving children from doing those things for themselves is to make them dependent, passive and hierarchical. They should learn and take both academic and non-academic responsibilities alike. An adult, who has a record of cutting grass, milking cows or buffaloes, ploughing fields, planting seedlings and harvesting crops during his/her childhood, is far more courageous, independent, active, energetic, high-spirited and progressive than the one who comes from a family that deprives him/her from learning those things.
Many Nepali parents feel proud of rearing their children in the way the Westerners do. They accord higher priority to their children’s self-esteem rather than encouraging them to choose their careers and other things of life. They regard strict parents as callous, cruel and stupid. But according to Amy Chua, creation of a strict learning environment for children does not spoil their wills. Rather this gives them skills, helps them understand their own capabilities, inculcate work habits and provides them with inner confidence.
Emphasis on individualism Though the Western method regards the Eastern parenting practice as overriding to children’s desires and preferences, children need it up to a certain age before they are matured enough to take decisions about themselves. More emphasis on individualism in the West has made children rigid and self-centred. Seeking a secure corner to adjust themselves, they have learnt to forget their responsibilities towards parents, neighbours, society, nation and the non-human world.
The Vedic tradition of parenting does a better job by preparing children for the future. It teaches them from the basics to the polished way of living a happy and meaningful life by making them skillful and confident. It is compatible with the modern psychology which says, “Waking up early, doing exercise/meditation, reading good books, seeking goodness in everything/ everyone, and forgiveness are the best forms of self care for everyday life.” Parents seeking to invest for the comforts of their children during a learning phase are not doing a wise job. They are depriving their children from becoming ever tolerant, hardworking, courageous and capable to face every challenge.
(Dahal is an Assistant Professor at Tribhuvan University. email@example.com)