- Identify & discuss two styles in parenting and explain what style has the most validity to you.
Developmental psychologist Diana Baumrind, in regards to her work in the 1960’s described various forms of parenting styles, based on research done on pre-school aged children. One of the prominent parenting styles identified by Baumrind was what has been known as the ‘Authoritarian’ style.
In this style parents set strict rules to be followed without questions by their children, without question or condition.
Authoritarian parents Baumrind states "are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation.” (1991) The main issue with this parenting style is that of the punishment, punishment is valued over discipline, the children are punished but they’re not told why, it’s just this ‘because I say so’ attitude that creates contention.
The parents are very demanding but are non-responsive; they expect a lot from their children but do not give very much feedback, warmth, nurturing, choices or explanations, making this in my opinion a very lazy parenting style. The parent does nothing but push and refuses to put any real effort in with the child’s development. This causes children to believe obedience and success with love and I think that puts too much pressure on children.
On the other hand another of Baumrind’s parenting style is the similarly named ‘Authoritative’ Parenting.
This, like the authoritarian style is about setting up firm rules for the children to follow, but it’s a lot less closed off. Authoritative parents on the other hand take the time to listen to their children and tailor their discipline to the individual child giving them options which encourages self discipline and assertiveness. When a child fails to meet the parents expectations the parent is more forgiving and nurturing and less likely to give out punishments.
Authorative parents "monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative" (Baumrind 1991). It’s less about controlling them to secure obedience and more along the lines of guiding them to ensure self-regulation and social competency.
I think this is a much more involved and therefore successful parenting style, because unlike the authoritarian style it’s not ‘one size fits all’. This parenting style is active and it involves the parent actively listening to the child and opening a dialogue with them. Rather than just punishing the child, the child is allowed to provide their rationale behind their actions basically you give them the benefit of the doubt. The important thing is that you’ve shown your child respect enough to not make an assumption and get all the facts first, this shows that you’re willing to listen and trust in their decision making, which will greatly increase their confidence and mutual respect is fostered.
The reason I think this parenting style is superior is simply because it shows that as a parent you care enough to respect your child as a person as opposed to just an extension of yourself.
- Analyze the role of the parent in dealing with the child's drive for independence and autonomy
In Touchpoints, (Perseus Books 1992) Dr. Brazelton talks about the importance of parents responding in a flexible manner to their child’s ever growing need for autonomy. Brazelton stresses that parents should strive to find new ways to deal with a resistant child, understanding that this ongoing negativism is actually driven by your child’s drive for independence.
He points that discipline is always a long term project and as children develop personality traits, i.e. likes, dislikes, what have you, listen to them and respond.
According to Dr Erik Erikson teachers and parents can foster good mental health in children by providing opportunities for the child to express healthy attitudes to develop. Erikson has put a significant amount of time into understanding those basic attitudes. He theorised that throughout someone’s life they pass through certain emotional stages of development which in turn affect out natural attitudes.
Three of these stages passed through in early childhood are as follows;
Trust vs. Mistrust
Autonomy vs. Shame and doubt
Initiative vs. Guilt
In the first stage; trust vs. mistrust, the child understands that certain people can be depended on and that he/she can depend on themselves. It goes without saying that the development of trust is dependant highly on the level of care the parent gives. It is vital that not only can the parent show that they can be trusted but also the community to some extent plays a part.
Erikson explains that attitudes to autonomy vs. shame are established around the same time that children are toilet trained. This is a fundamental step in their road to self assertion and control. A child who is not supported through this period fails to seek their own independence and may become waylaid with feelings of self doubt and shame throughout their whole life, which later on with manifest in defiance and low self-esteem.
The best way to handle this need for self assertion is to give the child as many opportunities as possible at home or at school to make decisions for themselves, this forces them to take control will raise their self esteem.
In the third stage initiative vs. guilt around the ages of four and five the child is mostly preoccupied with reaching out to those around them. They’re looking to develop their own ideas about life and try them out. They also want to experience being part of a group and develop appropriate sex roles.
Children at this stage are interested in how people react to them and how their actions are received by people. They’re interested in imaginative play because they’re avidly seeking information about the world and cause and effect relationships.
The job of the parent at the end of the day is to allow them to explore this world, to allow them to make their own decisions so they can eventually feel reliant on their own judgement and assert their independence.
- Identify and discuss community agencies and support groups that provide early childhood and parenting services in the U.S
The Early Childhood Parenting centre in California philosophy explains that research dictates that the first five years of a child’s life are the most influential.
They have thirty plus years of clinical experience which has demonstrated the value of normal growth and development through parent/child groups. They emphasise the importance on the early years of a child’s life in regards to parent child and attachment and how that reflects on their educational development.
They staff fifteen volunteer professionals, with expertise in child education and development, who bring with them hands on experience. They address all common issues surrounding parenting; they draw from clinical research developmental expertise.
The point of the centre is to make parents the best they can be, in a welcoming and nurturing atmosphere. Also they aim to seek out developmental issues early to provide referrals or proper treatment where necessary.
They use solid developmental principles based on real clinical research to help parents and their children to be happy and well adjusted people.
“We believe that we can promote emotional skills, such as identifying, expressing and managing feelings, self-awareness, impulse control and delayed gratification, and handling stress and anxiety. This foundation helps build habits of mind, habits of character and tools for self-expression. We believe that the children and parents who participate in our infant/toddler programs will be better prepared emotionally and developmentally to take advantage of their educational opportunities. “
The Early Childhood Parenting ethos.
- The Arlington County Parent Education Program
The Parent Education Program is part of Arlington County's Department of Human Services it resides in the Division of Child and Family Services. The Parent Education Program’s (PEP) main mission is to attempt to bolster the families of all structures. They essentially want to assist parents in their day to day ability to provide for their children the perfect environment in which they can flourish, one in which they feel nurtured, safe and secure and most importantly happy. The parent education program does this by extensively providing parents with the proper tools and strategies to make this dream a reality and make every family member a vital cog in the family machine.
They do this by offering parenting classes and workshops, as well as home learning parenting kits, they also provide information and referral services to make sure parents are provide with the resources they require.
PEP offers a wide variety of parenting programs for Arlington County residents absolutely free. Classes addressing a varying level of parenting issues, their aim is to provide parents with a nurturing and supportive environment, in which they can freely discuss their possibly concerns around parenting and gain insightful, cutting edge, research-based parenting information, tools, strategies and techniques for raising happy, healthy children. There are also parenting classes held for parents who are required specifically by the courts, social services, or other service providers to attend such classes. Many other classes and workshops are available to the general public. Programs are also available in English as well as Spanish. Childcare is also made available for some programs.
Discuss the challenges of raising children in the ff diverse family configuration: Adoptive families, Step families and Divorced families
It is commonly believed that until the 1970’s families were fairly standard and consisted of homemaker mother and a breadwinner father. This idea is a of course false. This was a myth created in the 1950’s as the economy allowed for a single income family to flourish. The truth is our society’s family structure is as diverse as the people that comprise it.
It’s a fairly common idea to assume that children from divorcee families are worse off than children from that of married parents but this assumption is just that, as it seems children from single parent divorced families fair no different from that of two parent families.
Obviously that still doesn’t take away from the fact that a divorce can be devastating to children but in time that goes away and an equilibrium is reached which is on par with a two parent family. The only mitigating factors are the levels of conflict that occur between the divorcing parents and the obvious economic problems that will surface with the loss of an earner from the household These two factors are the only elements that can cause children to have serious problems.
Although divorce rates are much higher in recent than that of early America that is a double edged sword of an argument because many households would just have lost a parent to death or they simply would have left to avoid paperwork. This still illustrates the point that there is no standard family unit; the family will always be a subjective idea, different for everyone.
Nowadays remarriages where parents have in fact been previously married to other people is quite common. America has a high rate of divorce but it also has an equally high rate of remarriage.
This leads to a large number of ‘blended’ families; this type of parenting is usually much more different from that of a two parent intact family. Issues such as money and discipline as well as general parenting can vary greatly between different families. These types of problems need to be negotiated amicably between marriage partners as we’ve already established that what causes problems for children’s is conflicts between primary care givers not necessarily the absence of one.
In fact there are several advantages to having a family structure of this type for example children may have lost parents who were in conflict constantly and replaced them through remarriage with happily married parents.
The family economic situation could have drastically altered with the new second income from the new family member, possibly bettering the well being of the family as a whole.
Not only may the economics improve but also the atmosphere as there may be an introduction of new siblings into the family which can benefit the children in that they have other children in which to learn how to interact with peers. They can in a sense practice social interaction on these new siblings but of course there’s also the chance that this family upheaval could cause tension between these newly formed siblings.
Not to mention the addition of a new adult role model who can greatly assist in moulding their ideas on life, giving the children a whole new perspective and set of values. This addition of new family members with new perspectives and ideas can result in children become more flexible and open minded in their everyday lives but these adjustments all take time and step families will go through many stages until everything gels like it should.
Research has often found that strong families exist regardless of structure and those strong families share certain attributes like simply appreciating each other and treating all family members as individuals. Families are stronger when they spend time together, whether it’s just a meal or a bike ride if you show commit to your family members, that bond will grow stronger and they will know they can rely on you.
Strong families tend to show good communication patterns and an ability to deal with a crisis well, obviously these two concepts are tightly linked families who are open and can talk about their problems will be better adjusted and happier. It’s true all families may be like this but these attributes are vital to a family’s well being regardless of their structure.
Bailey, S. J. Ph.D., CFLE Understanding the Challenges and Strengths of Diverse Families (Lecture). Montana State University
Brazelton, T. B. M.D. (1992) Touchpoints. Perseus Books