Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Could being too liberal be damaging for your child?

Could being too liberal be damaging for your child?

Finding the balance between being your child’s friend and being their parent is a difficult equilibrium to achieve.  Whilst you want to see your child flourish socially and not be a victim of bullying for example Regina George’s mom in “Mean Girls” who claims to be a “cool mom” and is permissive because she want’s Regina to be cool and popular, on the other hand you don’t want to see your child make bad lifestyle choices that may be damaging to their future. What you may not realize is the extent of which the way you parent your child can dictate your child's mental health and future.

From Bobbi Kristina Houston to Peaches Geldof, there has been several recent young deaths that have occurred as a result of a hedonistic lifestyle. The question prevails whether lachrymose incidents like these could have been prevented if they were parented differently? Do these cases indicate that being too liberal could be damaging for your child?  

The four types of parenting styles - which type of parent are you?
1.     Authoritarian - this type of parent is strict and controlling. They have strict rules which their children have to abide by with none or little consideration. “My way or the highway” is the rule of the thumb.  These parents tend to be high demanding but not very responsive. They have high expectations for their children, and if these are not met they are punished.
2.     Authoritative -  This style is similar to authoritarian in that they do have strict rules for their children, however they explain the reasoning behind them and are much more communicative to their children; in this way they are more democratic. They have high expectations for their children, but this is balanced with nurturing and understanding.  
3.     Permissive - also known as indulgent parenting, these parents are responsive but not demanding. They tend to be loving and caring to their children however tend to be very liberal. They are perceived as more of a friend than a parent, as they avoid confrontation with their children's life choices.
4.     Neglectful/Uninvolved - this parenting style is characterized by few demands, low responsiveness and little communication.  Usually the parents do fulfill the child's basic needs however in extreme cases it can be neglect.

Five examples were being too liberal i.e. Permissive parenting has gone wrong!

1.     Whitney Houston and Bobbi Kristina

Although the love between Whitney and her daughter was apparent. It was evident from the reality series “Being Bobby Brown” and other sources that Bobbi Kristina was spoilt and perhaps Whitney was too permissive with Bobbi Kristina as a teenager. There was also questions of neglect from her father (Bobby Brown) as she seemed to become completely estranged from him after her parents divorce. Although after pictures of Bobbi Kristina emerged of her taking a substance supposed to be cocaine Whitney did punish her by cancelling her 18th birthday party and gifts. Unfortunately as we know Whitney died and two years after so did Bobbi Kristina.

2. Lionel and Nicole Richie

After Nicole's adopted parents had a very public breakup. Lionel spoilt Nicole as a way of making it up to her.  Nicole became addicted to cocaine by 18 and later to Heroin which she was arrested for possession of at 23. She also was arrested for a DUI and suffered from Anorexia and Bulimia. Nicole admitted that because she was given everything and saw everything, she created drama in a dangerous way to escape boredom.

3.  Dina and Lindsay Lohan

Dina became known as “Party mom” as she was seen going out clubbing with Lindsay Lohan that seemed permissive of her daughter's drink and drug taking. Lindsay made a panicked call to her dad in 2012 claiming her mom was on cocaine, which later she denied the claim. The pair unsuccessfully attempted to sue Fox News for claiming they took cocaine together.  Lindsay has been arrested and been in Rehab numerous times. Although she seems to gradually be getting her life back on the right track over the past few years.

4. Britney and Lynne Spears

Lynne relieved in her memoir “Through the Storm” how she encouraged Britney to date an 18 year old football player when she was 14 because it would make her more popular who then she allegedly lost her virginity to. She also turned a blind eye to Britney beginning to experiment with drugs at 15 when she was recording her debut record, thinking that it was normal for teenagers. She also permitted Britney drinking as young as 13 but she didn’t mind as long as she was present. Britney later suffered a very public meltdown in 2007 due to stress and drugs in which she was sectioned and infamously shaved off her hair.

5. Bob and Peaches Geldof

Peaches was the second child of Bob Geldof and Paula Yates who died of a heroin overdose. Bob was said to raise Peaches and her sisters very liberally, often being left to their own devices and only stepping in when things got out of hand. Unfortunately he was too late to step in when the 25 year old died last year, he blames himself for her death.

According to the World Health Organization mental health is a state of well being in which a person can recognize their own abilities, is able to deal with normal stressors of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to their community. Good mental health in teenagers is characterized by good adaption in family, society and school environment. Psychologist Dr. Robin L Goldstein explains having responsibilities gives humans a sense of purpose which is beneficial to one's mental health.  Therefore giving your child household chores can add to your child's sense of purpose; although they may argue about doing the dishes at the time it teaches them about pride and responsibility which they will be grateful for in the future.

A study by the University of Ethiopia in 2012 found that students who rated their parents as authoritative had higher academic self-efficacy than their counterparts who perceived their parents as non-authoritative. Having confidence in oneself in turn had a direct positive impact on their child's performance. This is backed by a study by John Hopkins University in 2009 which showed that the more a student believed they were capable in their academic studies the more they were likely to succeed. This may in turn be a continuous cycle of ever-improving confidence and performance.

A study by the Catholic University College of Ghana in 2013 added to this, illustrating that one’s parenting style had a direct affect on a child's social development. The study showed that a parenting style based on reasoning, understanding and trust (authoritative) had a positive effect on a child's social skills whilst a rigid parenting style based on force and threat increased the likelihood of the child developing anti-social behaviour.

Goldstein points out that being too critical over your child can be devastating to your child's mental health. Advocating an authoritarian parenting style and being too critical over a teenagers academic performance can make the child feel hopeless about the future and add to them feeling like a failure. A teenager may feel depressed and therefore unmotivated to study and keep up with demanding academic responsibilities. A parent's anger and criticism can add fuel to the fire.

Alcohol and Drug Use in Teenagers

When it comes to alcohol and drug use it is difficult for a parent to stop completely. Many parents do not want their child to be bullied or isolated for not participating and therefore teach their child to drink responsibly. A study in 2015 by Brown University in indicated that having an authoritarian parenting style makes it more difficult for students to adjust to college life. That in turn increased the chances of alcohol problems, and which in turn predicted higher GPA (Grade Point Average).

Some liberal parents turn a blind eye to cannabis use among teenagers, as they may have used it themselves and do not observe it as harmful. However Goldstein notes that cannabis is not a completely benign drug. One of it’s most known effects is that it can make you apathetic. Becoming apathetic can in turn have wider implications that  they may become lackadaisical over their academic performance.

A study by the British Journal of Development Psychology in 2015 corroborated the notion that  a  parent should be wary of  the crowd their child gets into, as it was found that it could have a significant influence on their academic performance. The study established that higher achieving friends influenced the mathematical reasoning of lower achieving friends, thus giving verisimilitude to the saying “look at your friends, they are your future”. It was hypothesized that the reason may be that lower achieving friends may feel pressurized to keep up with their smarter friends due to embarrassment or they may take more of an interest in studying due to their new friends.

Helicopter Parenting - Overparenting

Although permissive and neglectful parenting styles are not advocated, on the other hand being too involved in your child's life could also be damaging. Research conducted by Michelle Givetz & Chris Sergin who are leading researches in communication studies found that over parenting could also be damaging. “Helicopter parenting” is a term that describes parents who are overly involved in their children's lives in an attempt to protect them.

Parental control was found to be associated with a child's sense of entitlement but simultaneously negatively affected the child's general sense of self efficacy. Studies implied that parents are needy in replacement of the affection missing from their marriage or own social life, showing that the parents are putting their needs in front of their children's.

The parent may control the child by providing them with gifts but only if they achieve certain grades for example, this has become known as “parental conditional regard." This anxiety driven parenting style has negative implications for a child's personal development and relationships with others. Over parenting has been shown to breed narcissism but also negatively affect a child's own self-efficacy which in turn can affect a child's anxiety levels. Parental behaviour that is psychologically controlling prohibits self exploration and self discovery, and as a result the child becomes attached to their parent.

Throughout all the research there does not seem to be a perfect solution. It is apparent that being very liberal i.e permissive parenting can have parlous consequences for their child's future and celebrities who parent their children in this manner are frequently lacerated by the media for doing so. On the contrary being very strict i.e. authoritarian is perceived as dastardly and can also be very damaging to a child's mental health and future. A parent usually does not want to neglect their child per contra being overly involved i.e. helicopter parenting can also be toxic to a child's mental health.  An authoritative style seems to be what research has suggested to be the best solution, however the guidelines of how to exactly achieve an authoritative parenting style are vague.  Raising a child does not come with an instruction booklet and each child is different, however perhaps being aware of what is suggested could be efficacious both the parent and child.

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