Parenting Styles: Is Western Research relevant to India?

Parenting Styles
The universality of Research Findings in the fields belonging to Humanities

We have talked about different parenting styles from a theoretical perspective in our previous article. We specifically looked at Baumrind’s 3 primary Parenting Styles. Very often we as parents read such scientific studies related to child development and wonder about their applicability in the Indian context. After all, unlike science, where proven findings are universal and can be tested and replicated anywhere, the universality of findings in any field of Humanities is a complicated question.

In Humanities, the research findings must be understood in the context that the studies were conducted in. Very often findings might be limited by various factors including but not limited to race, economic status, social-cultural-linguistic mores etc. This is not to say that there is no scope for generalization with regards to research findings in Humanities. All we are saying is that we should NOT be careless in our generalizations. Let us look at the Baumrind’s parenting styles and associated findings more closely and discuss its applicability in the Indian context.

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Authoritative Parenting Style is the Best! Or is it?

Numerous studies have shown that when a comparative analysis of the 3 parenting styles is done, it is the Authoritative Parenting Style that is most likely to lead to successful, generous and well-liked children[1]. Authoritative parenting style has been known to be an excellent predictor of good academic performance, social competence and good psychological functioning[2]

This has been verified by many studies and it is now considered an established fact that Authoritative style of parenting is better than Authoritarian or Permissive styles. But hold on there for a second! Most of these studies were done in well-developed western countries (the USA and Western Europe).

Don’t have time to read the whole blog right now? No worries. We have also prepared a short presentation of this blog. Just click on the link below and know all about parenting styles in 2 min!

Parenting Styles: View Slideshow

Parenting Styles in Collectivist vs. Individualist Societies

Authoritative parenting style might not have the same benefits for children of Asian-American origin as it does for European-American children[3]. Studies conducted in countries like Spain[4] and Brazil[5] have shown that Permissive styles produce the best results. Why are the results different in different contexts? Some commentators have stated that this could be because of inherent differences in the nature of ‘Individualist’ and ‘Collectivist’ societies[6]. The USA and Western Europe are examples of Individualist societies where the emphasis is on personal goals, whereas in Collectivist societies like those of China, India and Japan there is greater emphasis on collective and shared goals above the needs of the individual[7].

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Parenting Styles: Some Important Findings relevant to India:

Now let us look at research findings relevant to India and see if there is evidence for Authoritative parenting NOT being the best option.

    1. It has been found that Indian Mothers of pre-schoolers who valued things like ‘respect towards elders’ and ‘family honour’ are more likely to use the Authoritarian style of parenting. If, however they valued the socio-emotional development of the child more, they are more likely to resort to ‘Authoritative’ style of parenting[8].
    2. Indian mothers living in India tend to use Authoritarian style while Indian mothers who lived in the USA tended to use the Authoritative style of parenting[9].
    3. A recent study done in India with regards to Children and Academic Performance indicates that Authoritative style is the best[10].
    4. Social Withdrawal and social anxiety problems in girl children in India have been shown to worsen with Authoritarian style while they improve if the Authoritative style is used[11].
    5. Perceived Authoritative parenting style was found to be inversely associated with Interpersonal and academic problems for Indian children[12].
Conclusion

Evidence suggests that even in the Indian context, Authoritative parenting seems to give the best results. In keeping with changing times and evidence as presented above, a gradual shift to Authoritative parenting style is what we recommend. We believe a gradual shift can accommodate both the pulls of modernity and our traditions and family structure without disrupting the equilibrium too much. You might like our blog on how Indian parenting has changed over the years.

Don’t have time to read the whole blog right now? No worries. We have also prepared a short presentation of this blog. Just click on the link below and know all about parenting styles in 2 min!

Parenting Styles: View Slideshow

Summary:
  • In the previous article, we talked about 3 broad categories of parenting styles that child development scientists use.
  • Numerous studies conducted in western countries conclusively show that Authoritative style is what leads to best outcomes for children in the long run.
  • The important question that we try and answer is: Is the above research applicable in the Indian context?

We would love to Hear from You!

What according to you could be the best parenting style in the Indian context?

Please share your thoughts in the commenting section below.

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