Parenting in a society of “infobesity”

I can remember taking my 1st parenting course 38years ago when my eldest was born. A group of us ladies would meet in the town hall every Wednesday. A Phycologist would come and talk to us about the importance of raising children well and our responsibility to our children over a lifetime. The course was run over 6 weeks and for me I found it very help and a solid springboard into what was to come.

Parents have information overload on the net, and I am hearing everyone giving their opinions.

We have a society of “infobesity”

As a daughter, mother, grandmother and a Family Therapist, I will certainly try not to overwhelm you with the following information. My intention is to help cut through the grey matter and education with compassion.

There are several different parenting styles that have been identified by researchers in the field of psychology.

The four main parenting styles are:

  1. Authoritative parenting: This parenting style is characterised by parents who are both responsive and demanding. They establish clear rules and boundaries, but are also warm and nurturing towards their children. This parenting style was first identified by Diana Baumrind in the 1960s.
  2. Authoritarian parenting: This parenting style is characterised by parents who are highly demanding and directive, but not responsive to their children’s needs. They establish strict rules and punishments, and often use physical discipline. This parenting style was also identified by Diana Baumrind.
  3. Permissive parenting: This parenting style is characterised by parents who are highly responsive to their children’s needs, but not demanding. They may have few rules or boundaries, and may allow their children to make many decisions on their own. This parenting style was first identified by Baumrind and later expanded upon by Maccoby and Martin.
  4. Uninvolved parenting: This parenting style is characterised by parents who are neither responsive nor demanding. They may be neglectful or indifferent to their children’s needs, and may provide little guidance or support. This parenting style was also identified by Maccoby and Martin.

It’s worth noting that there are other parenting styles that have been proposed by researchers as well, but these four are the most well-known and widely studied.

However Child psychologists generally agree that there are several key principles that parents can follow to promote healthy development and well-being in their children. These principles can be considered “best practices” in parenting.

Here are some examples:

  1. Provide love and emotional support: Children thrive when they feel loved, valued, and supported by their parents. Parents can show affection, praise their children’s efforts and accomplishments, and be available to listen and provide emotional support.
  2. Set clear boundaries and expectations: Children also need structure and consistency in their lives. Parents can set clear rules and expectations for behaviour, while also being responsive to their children’s needs and feelings.
  3. Use positive reinforcement: Instead of focusing solely on punishments or consequences for misbehaviour, parents can also use positive reinforcement to encourage good behaviour. This can include verbal praise, rewards, or privileges.
  4. Encourage independence and autonomy: As children grow and develop, it’s important for them to learn to be independent and make their own decisions. Parents can support this process by gradually giving their children more freedom and responsibility, while also providing guidance and support as needed.
  5. Model healthy behaviours: Children learn by watching and imitating their parents. Therefore, it’s important for parents to model healthy behaviours, such as good communication skills, stress management, and healthy lifestyle habits.

Overall, best practice parenting involves balancing warmth and support with structure and guidance, while also being responsive to each child’s unique needs and personality.

Couples often argue about parenting because they may have different ideas about what is best for their children, or different parenting styles that they have developed based on their own upbringing, personal values, or cultural background. Here are some common reasons why couples may argue about parenting:

  1. Different parenting styles: As I mentioned earlier, there are several different parenting styles that parents may adopt, and partners may have different approaches based on their own experiences and beliefs. For example, one partner may be more strict and authoritarian, while the other may be more permissive and lenient.
  2. Differing expectations: Partners may also have different expectations about their roles and responsibilities as parents, or different expectations about how their children should behave. For example, one partner may expect their children to be more independent, while the other may be more protective and cautious.
  3. Lack of communication: Communication is key in any relationship, but it’s especially important when it comes to parenting. Partners may argue if they aren’t communicating effectively about their parenting goals, strategies, or concerns.
  4. Stress and fatigue: Raising children can be stressful and exhausting, and partners may argue more when they are feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. This can lead to disagreements about how to handle specific situations, such as discipline or household chores.
  5. Prioritising different needs: Finally, partners may argue about parenting if they have different priorities or needs that they feel are not being met. For example, one partner may prioritise spending time with their children, while the other may prioritize their career or personal hobbies.

It’s worth noting that there are some new and emerging parenting models that may not have been extensively studied or that may have conflicting research findings.

For example, some new age parenting models include:

  1. Attachment parenting: Attachment parenting emphasises the importance of forming strong emotional bonds between parents and children, and may involve practices such as co-sleeping, baby wearing, and extended breastfeeding. While some studies have found positive outcomes associated with attachment parenting, others have raised concerns about potential negative effects on maternal mental health, infant sleep, and child development.
  2. Free-range parenting: Free-range parenting is based on the idea of giving children more independence and autonomy, such as allowing them to walk to school or play unsupervised in a park. However, research on the effectiveness and safety of free-range parenting is limited, and some experts have raised concerns about potential risks and safety issues.
  3. Positive parenting: Positive parenting emphasises the use of positive reinforcement and non-punitive discipline strategies to promote children’s emotional regulation and social skills. While some studies have found positive outcomes associated with positive parenting, others have raised concerns about potential negative effects on children’s self-esteem and the need for clear boundaries and consequences.

Overall, it’s important for parents to be cautious when considering new or emerging parenting models, and to seek out evidence-based practices and advice from qualified experts in the field.

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NOTE: Children should never be a parent’s science project, parent with caution! Look for strong evidence based parenting models. Parents should communicate to understand each other’s point view and not necessarily to be right.

There are several types of parenting that can create trauma in children. Trauma is defined as an experience or event that overwhelms a child’s ability to cope, and can have lasting negative effects on their emotional, cognitive, and social development.

Here are some examples of parenting practices that can create trauma in children:

  1.  Neglectful parenting: Neglectful parenting is characterised by a lack of attention, affection, and basic needs, such as food, clothing, and shelter. Children who experience neglect may feel invisible, unimportant, and unworthy, and may struggle with emotional regulation, attachment, and trust.
  2. Abusive parenting: Abusive parenting can take many forms, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Children who experience abuse may develop symptoms of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and may have difficulty forming healthy relationships with others. Alcohol is the No 1 course of abuse in relationships and children can be traumatised directly or through association.
  3. Authoritarian parenting: Authoritarian parenting is characterised by strict rules, harsh punishment, and a lack of warmth or emotional support. Children who grow up in authoritarian households may develop low self-esteem, poor social skills, and may struggle with autonomy and independence.
  4. Permissive parenting: Permissive parenting is characterised by a lack of boundaries, rules, and structure. Children who grow up in permissive households may struggle with emotional regulation, impulse control, and may have difficulty with academic or occupational success.
  5. Inconsistent parenting: Inconsistent parenting involves unpredictable and erratic behaviour, such as fluctuating between strict rules and lax rules or harsh punishment and leniency. Children who grow up in inconsistent households may feel anxious, insecure, and may struggle with trust and emotional regulation.

It’s important to note that trauma can result from a combination of factors, including parenting practices, environmental stressors, and genetic vulnerabilities. Therefore, it’s important for parents to seek out resources and support if they are struggling with parenting or if their child is experiencing trauma.

It’s important for couples to recognise that disagreements about parenting are normal and can be resolved through open communication, compromise, and mutual respect. Seeking the help of a professional, such as a family therapist, can also be beneficial in resolving conflicts and strengthening the relationship. Often parents have their own undealt with childhoods, this can complicate matters until such time as they have the courage to look deeply into the revision mirror and seek help and healing.

Whilst I am on the parenting trail, I have to make mention of responsible parenting around technology.

Like it or not technology is here to stay and it is evolving faster than you can blink. Childrens use of technology has been added to the ever growing responsible parenting list. Never before has children had so much choice at the tip of their fingers. It is up to all parents to help their children understand the 5 little friends have I rule! Five little friends have I who what when where and why.

Note: The youngest child I have had in my office who had been effected by porn use was 8yrs old it was viewed on another child’s phone in the playground. This is becoming more common that you may think.

Tip: Create a values based “Family Culture

Research suggests that teaching children about responsible and ethical technology use is important for their healthy development and well-being.

Here are some key values and skills that children should learn when it comes to using technology:

  1. Digital citizenship: Children should learn about the responsible use of technology and their role as responsible digital citizens. This includes understanding the importance of online privacy and safety, treating others with respect, and being mindful of their digital footprint.
  2. Media literacy: Children should learn critical thinking skills to evaluate the accuracy and credibility of information they encounter online, including recognising fake news and online scams.
  3. Self-regulation: Children should learn to manage their technology use and develop self-control when it comes to screen time, gaming, and social media. This can help prevent negative consequences such as addiction, sleep disturbances, and reduced physical activity.
  4. Creativity and innovation: Children should learn how to use technology to express themselves creatively and innovatively, such as through coding, digital art, and online collaboration.
  5.  Balanced use: Children should learn to balance their use of technology with other activities such as physical activity, face-to-face social interactions, and creative play.

It’s important for parents to model responsible technology use themselves and to have open and ongoing conversations with their children about their technology use and values. Additionally, schools and educators can play a role in promoting responsible technology use and digital citizenship through curriculum and policies.