John Locke, the English philosopher, viewed the mind of an infant like a piece of white paper or ‘tabula rasa’ – a blank slate. His theories stressed the importance of meticulous parenting strategies as he believed that all children are created equal in terms of their skills. The education and the skills learned by the child, however, are determined by their parenting along with the interaction with the environment.
Additionally, the work of Aristotle is evidently supportive of Locke’s theory as he stated that knowledge is a result of experience. Thus, when concerned with child rearing practices, he believed that each child should be treated carefully. Both Plato and Aristotle stressed that the long-term welfare of society depended upon the proper raising of children.
In contrast, the nativities theory, pioneered by Jean Jacques Rousseau suggests, ‘human development results principally from inborn processes that guides the emergence of behaviours in predictable manner.’ Therefore, Rousseau’s theory marks the significance of both nature and nurture. His work states that children are born with innate ideas that unfold naturally with their interaction with the environment. The French philosopher is considered as a pioneer for providing child-rearing principles which are as follows:
- A child’s learning is based on the processes of exploration and discovery.
- Parents and society should allocate the child the maximum amount of freedom from the earliest stages of life for the child to learn to the best of their abilities.
Following from these theories, it can be comprehended that both nature and nurture play a vital role in the development of one’s physical and psychological well-being. Although the nature’s perspective cannot be altered, parents can ensure the appropriate use of practices when raising their children.
However, many people have kids without an idea of knowing how to raise them. Despite studying parenting books and educating oneself about the right way to raise a child, many parents fall victim to their own unconscious means.
According to Sigmund Freud, an individual’s childhood plays a crucial role in one’s development of adult personalities and behaviour. Although many of Freud’s contributions have been discredited, his theories of unconscious childhood traumas impacting the adult still apply largely to the general population. What people fail to realise is the implication of one’s own childhood in their parenting style.
Diana Blumberg Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist, carried out a study on a sample of 100 students via parenting interviews, observations and other scientific method to determine the parenting styles and their influences on adult personality. She took disciplinary strategies, the degree of warmth and nurturance offered by parents, communication styles and expectations of maturity and control implemented by the parents into consideration. Following from this, she created the distinction between four primary parenting styles along with their impacts. Thus, when a parent was exposed to such treatment in their childhood, it is possible for them to display the outcome of that treatment when parenting their own children without conscious awareness. The four styles are:
Authoritative parents: According to her research, authoritative parenting style is the cause of developing the most mentally healthy adults. Parents who follow this strategy provide unconditional positive regards to their children while maintaining a parent-child relationship. These parents offer their children with encouragement, warmth along with constructing criticism. They punish their children only when necessary and needed by explaining the consequences of the child’s action and why the child should behave in a certain manner. As a consequence of this, children raised in this style of parenting are cheerful and outgoing. They tend to respect themselves and are achievement oriented. They cope well under pressure and have the ability to form positive relationships with peers. Thus, when these individuals become parents, they follow a similar technique with their own children. This in turn, creates a positive cycle that gives off healthy individuals.
Authoritarian parenting style: The next parenting style classified by Diana Baumerind is the authoritarian parenting style. Parents who follow this style are often instructive, demanding and controlling towards their children. The modes of communication between such parents and children is limited with little verbal exchanges. The statement, “do it my way or else…” is frequently used in such households. Enforcement of strict rules without any explanations or rationale behind them is followed. Consequently, the outcome of this parenting style is personality comprising of unhappy, anxious adults. Furthermore, such children are fearful and often do struggle with forming close relationships with others. Initiating activities with their peers also seem like a complex task for them.
Essentially, when such children become parents, there are one of two outcomes. Either the child mimics their parents and enforces the same approach with their own children or they take a completely different approach and provide excessive freedom, thus becoming indulgent/permissive parents. Hence, the outcome of this approach is never positive. However, once these factors are identified, parents can make the necessary changes in their behaviour and break the toxic cycle.
Neglectful parenting style: The next parenting style identified is neglectful parenting. As the name suggests, such parents are uninvolved in their children’s lives. They provide excessive freedom and remain out of the picture. There is little to no communication between the parent and their children. Subsequently, children of such parents feel the lack of affection from and towards their parents as a result of no communication. The outcome of this approach yields individuals who are socially incompetent and lack self-esteem. Furthermore, such individuals often lack control over self and often engage in behaviours that are immature. When it comes to forming relationships, these individuals are extremely codependent on their partners.
When such individuals become parents, they display either become neglectful themselves or preach an authoritarian parenting style. This approach of parenting also contributes to negative outcomes.
Indulgent/Permissive parenting style: The last parenting style identified by Diana Baumerind is the indulgent/permissive style. This style allows individuals to be highly involved with their children without placing demands or control over their actions. Despite the positive aspect of being involved, these parents do not believe in disciplining their child as they believe it will foster confidence. However, the outcome of this approach is that children rarely learn to respect others and often display in egocentric behaviours. They are usually domineering and non-compliant.
Hence, when these individuals become parents, they are a negative role model for their own children as they fail to demonstrate the compliant behaviour.
All in all, despite these consequences, one does not fall victim to their circumstances. Instead, one is required to identify their unconscious behaviour and work upon those aspects of personality to raise successful individuals.
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