Parenting Styles and Psychopathology

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The early stages of human life are believed to govern the well-being of individuals in their later years, perhaps owing to the fact that the brain of a child learns quickly and absorbs information like a sponge. What they consume from their environment could determine to a great extent their overall personality, behavior, and physical and mental well-being when they finally grow up to be adults. It is, therefore, necessary for them to be raised in a family that fulfils not only their basic necessities but also provides them with skilled parenting. Matt Walsh says, “Parenting is the easiest thing to have an opinion on but the hardest thing to do.”

While some parents are willing to put their hearts and souls into parenting, others tend to struggle badly with it. Certainly, the causes differ when it comes to toxic or unhealthy parenting. In most cases, parents either struggle with psychological problems or were themselves the victims of bad parenting, which caused them to treat their children in an unhealthy or neglectful manner. Also, most of the time, even if they are enthusiastic about treating their children the right way, they still end up messing things up due to their lack of awareness. They might think of themselves as good parents, but that might not be the case in reality. Consider, for example, permissive parenting, where parents are so warm and loving towards their children that they don’t feel the need to set boundaries for them and nearly end up being more of a friend to them, causing them to be impulsive, aggressive, and have high expectations from others, which further results in disappointment. A 2019 study showed that children of permissive parents are more likely to be the victims of bullies. Some parents, especially those who were abused, bullied, or raised in an unhealthy way, use an authoritarian style of parenting that is very strict and demanding but lacks warmth and affection.According to 2012 research from the University of New Hampshire, children of authoritarian parents are more likely to engage in delinquent behaviours. They are also more likely to engage in anti-social behaviour and develop depression later on. Children who have been overcontrolled for the majority of their lives and have not had enough freedom find it difficult to be in charge, resulting in anxiety disorders. Another significant parenting style is neglectful parenting, where parents remain uninvolved and distant. They are indifferent towards their children, lack responsiveness, and are emotionally or physically unavailable. Research from 2019 that was published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that children of parents who don’t care about them are depressed, anxious, have low self-esteem, and have trouble making friends.

So, what kind of parental behaviour brings out the best in children?

The most appropriate parenting style is authoritative, where parents provide a considerable amount of love and warmth to their children, apart from setting certain limits and boundaries. Even if they don’t always accept their views, they are empathetic and actively listen to them.


Takeaway: According to the American Psychological Association, suppression of the true self and emotions makes children unable to identify their needs as adults, causing them to please everyone. Every child has unique characteristics and abilities, and it is necessary to view them as distinct individuals who were created differently and do not look exactly like their parents. Therefore, embracing their differences, encouraging them to be themselves, and letting them find their own way instead of strictly imposing ideas and being hypercritical might allow them to develop good self-esteem and be at ease with themselves. Parents are expected to not make their children victims of their own psychopathology. Peter Krause puts it this way: “Parenthood is about guiding the next generation and forgiving the last.”


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