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Is Parenting and Mental Health Really Positvely Correlated?

The type of parenting a child has had from the beginning can either make or break the very foundation of healthy mental health!

It has been continuously established that the grassroots level of bad mental health lies in childhood itself. Since parents are such a massive part of the children’s lives as they have not been predominantly exposed to the world yet, they play a huge role in constructing their personality, social behaviour, and, most importantly, mental health. Parents’ involvement in their children’s lives and family dynamics can make a huge difference in a child’s early life pathways.

Parent in forest

Childhood mental health problems can have some severe implications for the child, which can have long-lasting effects on the child’s life chances as well. A well-defined sign of mental health problems in childhood is reflected through the behaviour they exhibit. Established problems put students at risk for a variety of harmful consequences, including school failure, deviant conduct, commitment issues, and mental and physical sickness. There has been a massive increase in studies that show that the first signals of behavioural problems can be observed as early as infancy and toddlerhood. On the one hand, these difficulties might be impermanent for a few. Still, others might represent the problems of potential clinical significance.

Neither under-parenting nor over-parenting is ideally advisable to anyone, for that matter. In the case of repeated over-parenting, children lose their capability to deal with stressful situations. A situation like this can be indicative of the development of anxiety disorder in the long run. But, this is not always the case as children might feel independent and do the opposite of what their parents told them to do. For example, a teenage girl might find ways to lie to her parents to talk to boys when told not to. In both scenarios, the result is undesirable for both the parent and the child. On the other hand, when parents take a very stern and critical tone with their child daily, it can tamper the child’s self-worth, and the result would again be a mental health disorder. This could be well understood when parents judge their child’s body highly, which could shatter their self-confidence.

  • When the parents always try to correct their child by using negative reinforcements such as harsh punishments to get desirable results, children tend to feel that they do not have anybody backing them up, because of which they end up hiding their mistakes, which sooner or later affect their mental health as the emotional space gets very cluttered for them. This is Authoritarian parenting, which can lead to a feeling of “I am not good enough”. They portray a situation of do or die in their house.

  • Then comes an environment which respects the child’s views. Instead of bossing them around, they are open to discussions. In a situation like this, the parents’ reasons for their decisions are also available for recommendations. Children with such Authoritative parenting tend to have a solid emotional foundation. They are also close to their parents during adulthood.

  • Parents who are very lenient when it comes to broken rules or the, complaints by the teachers or any behaviour their child exhibits are Permissive in nature. Such children have a high chances of developing anxiety due to their impulsive decisions or the high risk associated with their life.

  • Then, the parents are completely unbothered by what their child does, which constitutes the Neglectful Parenting style They invest little or no time in their child. Such parents are completely uninvolved in their kids’ lives. This could be understood through a recent movie, Animal, wherein the father is so engrossed in his work that he forgets to attend to his son till a certain point. Such children grow up with severe attachment issues and always fear being stranded alone. Any relationship would come at the cost of anxiety to them due to faulty upbringing.

Family gathering

These are the four most commonly observed parenting styles. There is no proper right or wrong parenting style per se, as each situation demands a shift in strategy. But, each has its own negatives, and it indeed affects the mental health of the child in one way or the other.

Not only parenting styles but family dynamics also have a huge role to play in a child’s mental health.

Children who have been brought up by a single parent do face socio-psychological pressure. This has both short-term and long-term adverse effects, which can end up in depression. The chances of them having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are likely to be 4 times when compared to those who have been brought up in traditional families. In case of economic pressure gets all the more stressful for the adult and the child, which ultimately paves the trajectory of the child’s life.

The impact of disruption in a family, like the death of the parent, is adverse to a divorce, which flairs out the child’s behavioural and emotional problems. This can lead to teenage drug abuse, relationship difficulties and separation anxiety throughout. The cases where an unrelated surrogate parent adds up to the risk. It has been found that almost 30% of children across the globe live with their unrelated surrogate parent. The whole idea of stepparents is also tricky for the children to digest as there is a 20-40 times higher risk of developing anxiety and a “pulling away” tendency from the biological parent.

Blended family

In conclusion, a conducive family environment and parenting are essential for a child’s healthy mental health. Striking a correct balance for a child’s upbringing is quintessential as it lays the foundation for their entire life. Figuring out the best way possible, which is neither too detached nor helicopter parenting, is advisable. Being there for the kids and not being there simultaneously is crucial for them to grow as independent individuals with appropriate emotional quotients.

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