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The Effect of Parenting Styles on Child Development

Is parenting really significant? Does parenting have a positive impact on a child’s life? One may wonder if his or her parenting style has effectively influenced his or her child’s complete development. This paper probes the effects of parenting styles on a child’s development. A child’s holistic development, specifically psychological (emotional and social) and cognitive (intellect) developments, may be affected by numerous factors. These factors may be biological and environmental, which includes culture, family and more significantly parenting styles. Parenting styles used, though not solitary effects, have an absolute impact on the child’s future. According to Baumrind (1971), there are three parenting styles namely “authoritative (demanding and responsive)”, “authoritarian (demanding and unresponsive)” and “permissive (responsive but undemanding)”. More recently, uninvolved parenting (unresponsive and undemanding) has been recognized as a fourth style. Though each parenting style has varying characteristics, it is crucial for the child to receive both nurture and autonomy in order to obtain adequate development. Parenting styles such as authoritative and uninvolved influence a child’s cognitive and psychological development but authoritative parenting is preferred.

Every child’s cognitive development is impacted by his or her parent’s parenting style. Cognition pertains to the intellectual process by obtaining knowledge. According to Bjorklund (1989), “Cognition involves mental activity of all types. It includes activity that is geared toward acquiring, understanding and modifying information.” (p. 4). According to Piaget, children dynamically assemble knowledge by four stages-sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational-as they control and discover their world. It is necessary for parents to be cognizant of the effects of parenting styles on a child’s cognition. Berk (2009) stated that, “Authoritative child–rearing style–the most successful approach–involves high acceptance and involvement, adaptive control techniques, and appropriate autonomy granting” (p. 569). Authoritative parents are affectionate, attentive and receptive to their offspring’s wants, yet they implement firm, rational control and are usually demanding. They inspire the child’s independence and decision making so that the child will be able to make the right choices in life. They encourage dialogues and joint decision making whenever there is a disagreement between parent and child, thus paying attention to the child’s perspective and providing sensible supervision is necessary.

A child’s cognitive development is optimum for independence and decision making skills when experiencing positive and maximum parental support. Hence, an authoritative parent is said to be highly involved in a child’s development, offering positive and maximum parental support which encourages the development of a personality. A child reared by the authoritative parenting style exhibits “high self-esteem, self control and task persistence” (Berk, 2009). In regards to a child who has high self-esteem, positive values and beliefs are passed on from the parents because of their high participation in the offspring’s life. For example, the importance of these parental beliefs and positive values are adopted from family discussions and family rules and practices. Research has shown that children reared by authoritative parents have great academic success because the parents are extremely involved in all aspects of their lives and particularly, their academic achievements. Authoritative parents will praise their children for striving; help them with the difficulties they face in their school work and encourage them to do their best. Children given this positive and maximum parental support believe they have the competence to succeed in life.

The different areas of a child’s development are interconnected thus influencing one another. Psychological development, defined by Encyclopedia Britannica, refers to the emotional and social competence and operation of one’s life span. Authoritative parents are demanding-have high hopes and expectations for their children. Benson & Hiath (2009) postulates that “Children of authoritative parents exhibit low amount of internalizing behaviour such as depression and anxiety and externalizing behaviour such as antisocial behaviour and substance use” (p. 290). In essence, offspring of these parents are more socially and instrumentally competent than children reared by other parenting styles. Authoritative parents also show interest in their child’s social life. It is important that they know about their child’s whereabouts and the friends he or she keeps. Therefore, the child will be less likely to be antisocial in behaviour because of their high autonomy granting. Similarly, it is important to note that though these parents are involved in the child’s social life, they do not dictate the type of friends the child should keep. Instead, they provide good advice and allow the child to make his or her own decision. Benson & Hiath further states that, “Children of authoritative parents are better equipped to cope with life stresses and less likely to succumb to peer pressure, due to the competencies authoritative parents have instilled” (p. 290). Based on research presented, it can be concluded that authoritative parenting has a positive impact on a child’s complete development.

Additionally, a child’s cognitive and psychological developments are also influenced by uninvolved parenting. Unlike the authoritative parent, Benson & Hiath (2009) believes “the indifferent parent is not dedicated to parenting roles and is disinterested in helping foster optimal development of the child” (p. 283). The uninvolved parent is said to have little or no participation in their child’s development thus the child is likely to have less interest in his or her own development. These parents have either despised their children or probably do not have the time or energy to take care of them because priority is given to their own life problems and stresses instead. In contrast to authoritative parenting, children reared by the uninvolved parenting style display poor emotional control and low self-esteem. Children of these parents are likely to have low self-esteem as well as poor school performance because they feel unappreciated by their parents, due to the parents’ low acceptance and non-involvement in their lives. For example, a parent who is parentally stressed and shows no interest in the child’s academic achievement will not encourage the child to develop academically. As a result the child will become a low achiever because there is no parental guidance and support when he or she gets an assignment and needs parental assistance. Additionally, the child is likely to have difficulties making decisions and expressing views effectively because the uninvolved parents are lacking in the areas decision making and perspective.

Uninvolved parents are undemanding often showing little control. A child who feels neglected by his or her parents is likely to have a deficit in his or her psychological development. The child of an uninvolved parent may have behavioural problem such as antisocial behaviours and substance abuse. This is so because the parent-child relationship is poor and so the child is emotionally detached and withdrawn. Due to the lack of positive guidance (no parental values, beliefs and expectations), the child may be led by the wrong type of friends and as a result find himself or herself in a destructive path. For example, parents who are uninvolved in their child’s social life set no expectations and allow their child to do as he or she pleases; searching for affection and attention in the wrong places. Studies have also shown that uninvolved parenting, unlike authoritative parenting, has a negative impact on a child’s holistic development.

From a biblical perspective, a parent should train up a child in the way he or she should go, so when he is old he or she will not depart from it. Research have concluded that parenting plays a minor role in the development of a child and that the impacts are surpassed by the effects of inheritance and society. Despite such claims it is revealed that parenting styles, though not the only influence, wield great effect on a child’s development. Based on previous studies, authoritative parenting is preferred because it has the most positive influence on a child’s entire development while uninvolved parenting has the most negative impact. Some parents use more than one parenting style in the upbringing of their child; therefore it would be a great idea for uninvolved parents to strive to adapt some values of authoritative parenting to allow the child to develop autonomy, confidence and maturity.

Word Count: 1342

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