“The price of greatness is responsibility”, a succinct dictum by Sir Winston Churchill fittingly and cogently explicates the august commissioning to one of the most challenging and rewarding enterprises of ‘becoming a parent’. A huge responsibility often taken for granted though, the stature of being a parent — assiduously divine and sublime circumstance in itself by all means — relegates certain atypical and imperative liabilities and obligations in concurrence. Heightened sense of answerability, an astute cognizance, intelligence, intuitive understanding, candor, compassion, strength, wisdom, spirituality, perseverance, and hard work may be named as a few rudiments of the greatest challenge of teaching, rearing, and training of children today thus though.
Parents’ role is conventionally compared to that of gardeners planting and tending saplings and offshoots, to shepherds tending flocks or to nurses; and from certain religious viewpoint God’s appoints for protecting the innocent souls and their spiritual welfare. Parents are judged for, in child raising, on assorted distinctive appraisals: being realistic or unrealistic about their hopes for a child; open-or-narrow minded in the interests they allow or foster, or lessons they instill; supportive or hindering of a child’s development; deftly guiding or incessantly pushing a child in certain directions. They are also extolled for being attentive, responsive, patient, devoted, and generally responsible, alternatively blamed for being deficient in these respects or for ‘smothering’ children being too permissive or indulgent of their misconduct.
Whereas the importance of parenting is a topic of contemporary scientific and psychological research, an international imperative is also embedded in the UN Convention of Rights of the Child stating that, “The child should be fully prepared to live an individual life in society… in the spirit of peace, dignity, tolerance, freedom, equality and solidarity” and that ‘the family is responsible for guaranteeing the child’s rights’. Protection (environment, safe from physical and emotional harm); good health (safe water, hygiene); proper nutrition, stimulation (opportunities to explore, express curiosity, engage in problem solving); language development and above all interaction with and attachment to caring parents, are some basic children entitlements.
Raising and caring the young ones was the duty of human beings, before history was even history. Parenting has evolved through a string of successive and overlapping phases, from a seventeenth century outlook of children as ‘adults-in-training’ to the early nineteenth century emphasis on character formation; the late nineteenth century notion of Scientific Child Rearing, stressing regularity and systemization; the mid-twentieth-century focus on fulfilling children’s emotional and psychological needs; and the late twentieth century stress on maximizing children’s intellectual and social development. Nonetheless, the fundamental assumptions that lie beneath parenting are cultural constructs that take place at particular points in history.
The family is both earliest and the most sustained source of social contact for children and parents, primary source to learn social rules and values by praising or disciplining them as they conform to or violate socially acceptable standards of speech and behavior. Parents also model to imitate or identify with influencing besides children’s self-esteem, academic achievement, cognitive development (and behavior). Equally, ‘progress in emotional, social, regulatory and moral capacities are some remarkable gains achievable through an informed parenting’, duly noted by Grover. It is becoming increasingly evident in research that early experiences are the building blocks for all later development and that a vigilant parenting has a critical role to play for children on individual level and for society as a whole.
D. Baumrind, conceptualized three styles of parenting: authoritative, authoritarian and permissive. Authoritative parenting isn’t intrusive, sanctions children considerable freedom, within reasonable limits. Children of this parenting style have a high level of self-esteem, adaptability, competence, internalized control, popularity with peers and low levels of anti social behavior. In contrast, authoritarian parenting is rigid, power assertive, harsh and unresponsive to children. Dissatisfied, conflicted, and an anxiety-ridden conduct is often found in children of authoritarian parents.
In spite of the permissive parenting’s reasonably affectionate relationship with children, excessively lax and inconsistent discipline, and encouragement of the free expression of children’s impulses, it is related with the development of uncontrolled, impulsive behavior in disciplining. In a fourth, uninvolved or neglecting style, a little time and effort is put to interact with the child. Neglectful parenting is, thus, associated with a host of physical, intellectual and emotional problems in children.
Social class, wealth, culture and its values, income along with the set of parental beliefs, goals, and expectations inherent in one’s culture play a strong and major role in determining the parenting style. Parenting phenomenon may be universal, but parenting behaviors vary across cultures. Most Western cultures, for instance, place great value on authoritative parenting and maladaptive parenting styles i.e. authoritarian and permissive have generally been linked with problematic outcomes and impact ranging from adjustment and social issues to pathologies like depression, anxiety and low frustration tolerance.
However, in Arab and Asian cultures a more authoritarian parenting is still seen and practiced. Western culture is more individualistic where personal rights and autonomy are cherished. Children are trained to be self-sufficient and independent and restrictions or control is perceived as an attack on the independence of the child. On the other hand, Asian cultures are more collectivistic and conforming to group values e.g. family and community are given precedence over individualistic needs.
Studies carried out in different Asian cultures like China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea have also shown that control and strictness are not perceived as damaging but a sign of love, care and concern. Islamic cultures also emphasize the need to inculcate obedience in the children and it has been observed that in Islamic countries authoritarian style is not associated with psychological problems. Authoritarian parenting is accepted by Arab youth e.g. majority of the Egyptians favor ‘absolute submission’ to parents.
Chao, challenged the Baumrind typology, accentuated the difference between Asian and Western conception of parenting and theorized that optimal parenting is characterized by close involvement with the child, devotion and willingness to make sacrifices for the child’s well being and family control is seen as supportive.
Respectively, in Pakistan parents are considered to be totally responsible for their children’s upbringing and training. Not only by the social norms but also by the religious teachings, the duty of supervision and training is specified to mothers. Daughters in Pakistan, for instance, are controlled and closely supervised till marriage. So, in a culture where obedience is valued, tolerance for control and domination is more likely to be greater. In addition to cultural, social factors, religion has major impact on parenting practices; according to which parents are considered to be ‘second only to God’ resultantly obedience, respect and submission to authority are cultivated. Parental authoritarian control and supervision seem to be more normal and accepted in Pakistan as well, research affirms.
The paradigm of parenting in Pakistan requires revamping; in the context of contemporary, nerve-racking, fast paced and digitized world clinching cultural strands besides. To develop state-of-the-art parenting awareness literature or syllabi through latest research induction; to organize awareness programs at community level and in educational setups; to stretch social consciousness about the children rights, parenting skills and responsibilities at all government and non-government levels exploiting all modes of advert and media; well thought out edification and training, also extending counseling and support services for parents by the state, are a few imperative rectifications to be ingrained and kicked off into Pakistani parenting structure, to ensure a healthy and positive parenting culture for generations to come.
Subsequent valued parenting notions ought to be nurtured further: Discipline offering compassionate, steady and honest correction. To talk about problems and identify with them. Guide through patience and gentle but firm actions and words e.g. if a rule is broken, regulate with consistent, safe chastisement like a short, quiet time out. Formulate routines and rules to follow i.e. is to schedule time to play, watch TV and be taken to activities or to friends etc.
Extend extra support, time, and attention e.g. to play a game, read, talk; go for a walk, cook, draw or paint, share responsibility age accordingly etc. Shield from financial frets wisely. Treat them as valued, important and worthwhile e.g. telling we are proud of them, praising a good job. Uphold kids’ self esteem, teach right values, protect general rights and endow the same responsibility to make the world a beautiful, peaceful, healthy and safe place to inhabit. Foster self-confidence, independence and cherish the sense of accomplishment in mastering the skills by themselves. There is no single right way to parent; so, to brave new and different solutions to problems trusting one’s own judgment though.