Dr. M. C. Jain
M.A. Ph.D. (Psychology)
Ex-Associate Professor, NCERT
The parent child relationship of different types of parents varies based on established social norms. Parents who lived centuries ago certainly didn’t have the same type of relationship with their children as parents today. It is difficult to estimate the extent of the effects of parental behavior on child development. The first social group to which the child gets exposed is the family. It is again the parents on whom the child models his behavior and it is to them that the child looks to when he is in trouble. His values, attitudes and achievement are largely based on the early parent child interactions. How a child will develop depends to a large extent on what type of home environment he has. It does not mean that genetic potential is not important but only that it is the environment that helps to unfold the potential of the child. It is true in every aspect of development.
Nevertheless the majority of the parents are not aware of the responsibility that rests in them. They feel that once the child starts going to school, then their responsibility is over and that now it is up to the teacher to make or mar the child. However we should also admit that the position of the schools is a little more advantageous in this matter as we have to necessarily have more contact with the parents. In spite of this many school teachers are of the opinion that the parents are not sufficiently knowledgeable regarding the impact they make on the developmental pattern of the child. It is only to be expected as a large majority of our parents are either totally illiterate or on the verge of literacy. Therefore, it is difficult for them to believe that they are in a position to do anything for the child except perhaps by supporting him to go to school. By and large it may be admitted that the foundations of children’s skills and attitudes are laid in the home only. It is the kind of early parent-child interaction in the home that determines whether a child will develop into a dependent or independent, ascendant or submissive, co-operative or competitive person. We must understand that the most important aspect of the parent child relationship is that the child should trust the parent implicitly. Confidence must be established. The child may not like every decision that the parents makes but he or she needs to know that all decisions are made for their well being. The parents should play additional roles as a child’s friend, disciplinarian, and guide. Discipline is essential because the child needs to know that there are bounds which can’t be crossed in life. In other words it is imperative that the child learns in its formative years that he or she can’t do whatever he or she wants to do. Many times parents think that their job is to give orders or administer commands and to expect blind obedience.
Whenever our children need our help or support, we must be there for them, and can advice them about what they must do, but never force our ideas on them, never make them feel alone. We must allow our children to dream and pursue their dreams, even if it’s not what we desire. We all love our children a great deal, but we must help them find their own happiness, not by forcing them to do as we want, but always being with them and helping them when they need our support.
Most parents force their children into becoming a doctor or an engineer, so that they may live happily later in their lives, but “happiness” is not a material thing, nor does anyone acquire happiness from material gains. Happiness is a state of mind, which is established when we can do what we want to do, and are able to live up to our own dreams. We can help our children find their true self. We must allow them to think and walk on their own feet.
We should not address the child in rudely and expect the child to be polite. Often assume that it is their prerogative to say anything to the child including insulting on grades, poor performance in exams and similar acts of child which are below their expectations. Parents may engage in hurting the child by comparing them with the other brighter children and sometimes even insult them in presence of their friends. This can only increase the child’s negativism and dislike for the parent resulting in rude and blunt replies to parents. The parents must feel that often we hinder the development of our children by being too strict as disciplinarians. They must set the right example before them. They must have a home where love, respect, and understanding prevails.
We, as parents must learn to be careful in our relationship with our children. We must learn to be loving but objective at the same time. We must objectively evaluate our own behaviors as well as those of our children and adjust them as required. We also must understand the child’s motives before a punishment is given and the child should always be given a chance to explain what he has done. Punishment without an attempt to remove the underlying cause will not be effective. No punishment should be given until the child is old enough to understand. This should be decided based on his mental ability and not on his real age. Discipline needs to be taught without fears. Child should behave well because he wants the approval of the parent whom he loves.
Every child in the world is unique, all have their unique abilities. As a parent, we must help our children discover their abilities, not enforce our wishes on them. There is an old and famous saying, “Happiness is a state of mind”. So, mind will only feel fulfilled when it is allowed to do what it always wanted.