Why parents are sometimes strict to their children.
The modern world is a complex place with many different human cultures and societies. Across the globe, parents and extended families do their best to bring up children wisely and safely, but it is evident that opinions differ on exactly how this should be done. …
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This paper examines the issue of strict parenting by first defining what this means, and then exploring the multiple reasons why parents might choose to be strict to their children on occasion. A number of scholarly findings are reported, along with illustrative examples, in order to demonstrate the type of situations which call for strictness, and finally a comparison is drawn between strictness which is appropriate, and strictness which is unhelpful for a child’s development. Most people can remember instances from their childhood when their parents punished them because of something that they did. It is entirely natural and proper for a certain amount of conflict to arise between parents and children because the only way children can learn about the world is by being gradually introduced to it in a safe and practical way. Babies and young children have to be taught that certain objects are hot, or sharp, or in some other way dangerous, and caring parents are generally very strict about things like fire and matches, crossing roads, talking to strangers, and other kinds of behavior which could bring harm to the child. Strictness in this context is a fundamental parental duty. It would be criminal and negligent to allow children to freely experiment with such dangerous behaviors and so in this sense strictness is a positive quality which protects the child by teaching it what must be avoided. There is another kind of strictness, and this relates to the social behavior of a child, for example in learning to say hello and goodbye, or to say polite phrases like please and thank you. There is an element of culture in this kind of strictness, because it has more to do with what people think about the child (and by implication also the parents) than what the child wishes or needs. Some families are very strict about using titles such as “Sir” or “Ma’am” when the child is addressing adults, while other parents are much more relaxed, and some even allow children to address parents by their first names, rather than by polite phrases or the labels “Mom” and “Dad”. The purpose of this kind of strictness, when it occurs, is to make sure that the child learns to fit into the norms of the social setting in which the family lives. Parents who have been in the military, or who have a strong faith in a major religion, are often more concerned about this kind of behavior, because they have high moral standards themselves and wish to pass these same standards on to their children. Parents who work in the arts and media, or who are unemployed, or who are of a more gentle disposition may, on the other hand, value a free and easy approach to life, or perceive such good manners as something irrelevant, or elitist. The moral, religious and political views of the parent, therefore, are often a key factor in determining how strict they are with their children. A number of studies have been carried out on parents and strictness, including a recent exploration of the relationship between teenage drinking behavior and parental strictness levels (Aubrey, 2010). Researchers at Brigham Young University found that children whose parents are indulgent and easy-going tend to be the most likely to become involved in binge drinking of alcohol. The same study found also that parents who are very strict try to prevent the child from coming into contact with alcohol, but unfortunately this has the effect also of removing the opportunity for children to make their own judgements. (Aubrey 2010). An earlier study on parental strictness in the United Kingdom found that “Children are more likely to grow into well-adjusted adults if their parents are firm disciplinarians.”
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