By Matseleng Mogodi
Being a parent or legal guardian often requires you to be constantly aware of your influence on a child, more so in their developmental stages, and often up to the pre-teen as well as teenage stage. A key question would then be, do parents need to adapt their parenting styles or perspectives in line with what is at play in today’s societal context given the fluid and complex nature of children?
A healthy environment where children and parents effectively communicate with each other, where values and expectations are shared, allows for far more meaningful relations.
Furthermore, a Stanford University-led study recently conducted in California in the US, highlighted the importance of parents enabling their children to take the lead at times and where applicable parental leadership be applied when deemed necessary. According to an education professor at the university, Jelena Obradovic, an enormous amount of parental involvement can become a negative element – for instance, when a child is focused on an activity, it can undermine their behavioural development. It was also observed by researchers who conducted the study that parents’ behaviour when kindergarden-age children were actively engaged in an activity made it difficult at times for them to fully be present as this affected their focus.
An intricate balance between children’s desires and parental expectations
Nevertheless, there is a need for an intricate balance between children’s desires and parental expectations. What creates the biggest problems is that parents have expectations and children have their own minds. As parents, we may still be stuck in the old model of what we think works and thus in the process we impact the progress and potential of our children.
Parents need to ensure they educate themselves more about what children of this current generation require from them as parents. Parents do not necessarily know more, but what they do have is more information accumulated over many years’ experiences.
Parental influence on children often tends to create difficulties when it comes to regulating a child’s behaviour and emotions in certain moments. This also affects a child during tasks which measure delayed gratification, as well as other exclusive functions and skills associated with impulse control and the ability to switch between competing demands for attention. It is also often found that this phenomenon occurs across all socio-economic landscapes since human beings are complex across all fronts.
Parents should ensure they do not overly influence their children’s attitudes to life
It has become essential for parents to ensure they do not overly influence their children’s attitudes to life. A prime example is parental experiences regarding education, which influences a young child’s likelihood of wanting to stay within the educational system and eventually further their studies.
The relationship between parents and children becomes a key predictor when it comes to their wellbeing. Family harmony and parents who are willing to grant autonomy to their children, ensures a young person’s resilience to challenges as an adult where accountability will be even heavier on them.
So, if you think about it, many people, including parents, try to forcefully teach and instil something in their children that has not worked for them. We do not teach what works, we live it, and our children will also live it. Parents can guide but must work on reducing their influence on children so that the children can thrive and become who they were meant to become.
The world needs different human beings, for different roles, because being different brings balance.