There is a great deal of diversity among families when it comes to parenting. Cultural backgrounds greatly impact how the family unit exists and how children are reared. In the last several years, the population of the United States of America has had a change in makeup. Changes driven by immigration (with different cultural, ethnic, and spiritual ideologies), socioeconomic status, and single-parent families are some factors that determine various parenting styles among families. As per the 2014 U.S. Census Bureau data, one-quarter of children lived in single-parent families, and three-quarters lived in households with 2 married parents. These patterns differ when race and ethnicity are considered. Although children can thrive in all types of family environments, data suggest that, on average, children living in single-parent families fare less than their counterparts.
The definition of culture refers to a pattern of social norms, values, language, and behavior shared by individuals. As a result, parents are affected by their culture. In terms of self-regulation, parenting approaches vary across cultures concerning promoting attention, compliance, delayed gratification, executive function, and effortful control.
Every parent has a different approach to interacting and guiding their children. A child's morals, principles, and conduct are generally established through this bond. Researchers have grouped parenting styles into 3, 4, 5, or more psychological constructs. This topic's content will only focus on 4 parenting categories: authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and uninvolved. Every category employs a unique approach to how parents raise their children. Generally, each parent will fall into 1 of these categories and sometimes have some characteristics from another category. Parenting style can also be situation-dependent.
Issues of Concern
Parents of this style tend to have a 1-way mode of communication where the parent establishes strict rules that the child obeys. There is little to no room for negotiations from the child, and the rules are not usually explained. They expect their children to uphold these standards while making no errors. Mistakes generally lead to punishment. Authoritarian parents are normally less nurturing and have high expectations with limited flexibility.
Children who grow up with authoritarian parents will usually be the most well-behaved in the room because of the consequences of misbehaving. Additionally, they can better adhere to the precise instructions required to reach a goal. Furthermore, this parenting style can result in children who have higher levels of aggression but may also be shy, socially inept, and unable to make their own decisions. This aggression can remain uncontrolled as they have difficulty managing anger as they were not provided with proper guidance. They have poor self-esteem, which further reinforces their inability to make decisions. Strict parental rules and punishments often influence the child to rebel against authority figures as they grow older.
This parent typically develops a close, nurturing relationship with their children. They have clear guidelines for their expectations and explain their reasons associated with disciplinary actions. Disciplinary methods are used as a way of support instead of punishment. Not only can children have input into goals and expectations, but there are also frequent and appropriate levels of communication between the parent and their child. Generally, this parenting style leads to the healthiest outcomes for children but requires a lot of patience and effort from both parties.
Authoritative parenting results in children who are confident, responsible, and able to self-regulate. They can manage their negative emotions more effectively, which leads to better social outcomes and emotional health. Since these parents also encourage independence, their children will learn that they can accomplish goals independently. This results in children who grow up with higher self-esteem. Also, these children have high academic achievement and school performance.
Permissive parents tend to be warm and nurturing and usually have minimal expectations. They impose limited rules on their children. Communication remains open, but parents allow their children to figure things out for themselves. These low levels of expectation usually result in rare uses of discipline. They act more like friends than parents.
Limited rules can lead children to unhealthy eating habits, especially regarding snacks. This can result in increased risks for obesity and other health problems later in the child's life. The child also has a lot of freedom as they decide their bedtime, if or when to do homework, and screen time with the computer and television. Freedom to this degree can lead to other negative habits as the parent does not provide much guidance on moderation. Overall, children of permissive parents usually have some self-esteem and decent social skills. However, they can be impulsive, demanding, selfish, and lack self-regulation.
Children are given a lot of freedom as this type of parent typically stays out of the way. They fulfill the child's basic needs while remaining detached from their child's life. An uninvolved parent does not utilize a particular disciplining style and has limited communication with their child. They tend to offer little nurturing while having little or no expectations of their children.
The children of uninvolved parents are usually resilient and may even be more self-sufficient than children with other types of upbringing. However, these skills are developed out of necessity. Additionally, they might have trouble controlling their emotions, less effective coping strategies, academic challenges, and difficulty maintaining or nurturing social relationships.
Characteristics of a parent's upbringing style may continue to be prevalent in the child's behaviors and actions as they age. As children grow older, they can be affected by other factors that further shape or change their conduct (ie, therapy, culture, job, and social circle). Regarding health outcomes, it is important to identify which areas of concern are related to the upbringing style of a patient's parents (ie, the habit of unmonitored snacking) and address the issues at that level. These issues become relatively more important regarding behavioral and psychological intervention.
Becoming culturally competent whenever possible is a great asset for providers who take care of pediatric patients. Understanding the family background, how rules are set, and discipline styles will allow the clinician to understand the dynamics of the family unit. Once the provider is familiar with the parental rearing techniques, identifying, managing, or referring families will be easier.
Nursing, Allied Health, and Interprofessional Team Interventions
Child interventions may require knowledge of their parent's upbringing style, especially if physical or verbal abuse is suspected. Understanding the child's home environment can lead to better patient outcomes as more personalized approaches can be taken toward the child's well-being.