Parenting: the Most Important Job on the Planet

A person’s upbringing and education starts in his or her family. Even when children grow up and become independent, their families never stop influencing their lives. The family is responsible for an individual’s physical and moral development and it is in the family that values, norms and ideas are communicated from generation to generation. Being a parent is one of the most challenging tasks in the world. Parents ought to love, protect and guide their child. They should show affection and sympathy, understand their children’s feelings and help them solve their problems.

A child’s upbringing is not a chaotic and uncontrollable process. It is a great responsibility that demands certain knowledge, skills and experience. Of course different parents have different views of what they want to ‘implant’ in the mind of their offspring. But all parents want their children to become nice, responsible and mature individuals with a broad outlook and a kind heart. First and foremost parents should choose the right parenting style. There are four types of parenting styles that differ in the degree of parental demands and responsiveness: permissive, authoritarian, authoritative and neglectful. But as a rule parents usually combine these styles depending on the situation.

A lot of parents choose to adhere to a permissive parenting style which is also called indulgent or nondirective. It doesn’t require a great share of discipline on the part of the parent and that of the child. There are no clear conduct patterns or strict demands as sometimes parents fear to lose their children’s love if they set limits. Children are usually given unrestricted freedom and they are allowed to behave as they want and to do what they wish. Permissive parents don’t usually punish their children and they are very attentive to their children’s wishes and needs. Child-rearing experts disapprove of such way of upbringing and say that it is not beneficial for children who may take advantage of their parents’ indulgence and become disobedient, aggressive, irresponsible and egoistic.

Those parents who choose to adhere to an authoritarian parenting style are strict and demanding. Some specialists characterize this style as restrictive and punitive. Authoritarian parents force their sons and daughters to obey a set of rules and punish them for a slight disobedience. Such mums and dads do not give their children much freedom and do not allow them to make their own decisions and choices. They value submission and obedience most of all and discourage independence and individuality. Authoritarian parents set very high standards and don’t like their authority to be questioned or doubted. They do not show warmth and affection towards their children. As a result children may fear their parents, feel rejected and lack self-confidence, curiosity and independence.

Authoritative parents are strict but fair. They use punishment and praise appropriately. When authoritative parents punish children, they always explain their motive for the punishment. Such parents prefer discussions and explanations and value compromise. They make rules appropriate to a child’s age and capabilities and serve as a role model for him or her to follow providing support and guidance. Children are given enough freedom but at the same time they are under their parents’ constant control. The main goal is building strong trusting relationships between parents and children. In such families children are usually cheerful, self-confident, responsible and socially successful. This parenting style is the most recommended according to experts.

Neglectful parents are often undemanding and indifferent towards their children. They do not set limits and do not control their children’s behaviour. Such parents are preoccupied with their own needs and spend little time with their offspring. As neglectful parents are too busy with their obligations, they are uninvolved in their children’s life and don’t express interest in it. Neglectful parents do not demonstrate warmth and affection that is why children in such families feel ignored, unloved and depressed.

If parents want their children to be happy and to develop successfully, it is essential to maintain harmony and the atmosphere of love, mutual respect, acceptance, understanding and open communication in their family. Special parent education classes are organized in order to help parents perfect their parenting knowledge and skills. It is important to remember that parents should combine love, discipline and limits in order to raise healthy and happy children. Parents who fully realize their responsibility and do their best to help their child become a responsible, well-bred, independent and tolerant adult are rewarded when their sons and daughters become successful members of society.

1. Read the following sentences and circle TRUE or FALSE: 1) A person’s upbringing and education starts in school. T|F|
2) When children grow up and become independent, their families stop influencing their lives. T|F|
3) A child’s upbringing is a chaotic and uncontrollable process. T|F|
4) A permissive parenting style requires a great share of discipline on the part of the parent and that of the child. T|F|
5) Those parents who choose to adhere to an authoritarian parenting style are strict and demanding. T|F|
6) Authoritarian parents give their children unrestricted freedom. T|F|
7) Authoritative parents use punishment and praise appropriately. T|F|
8) Neglectful parents are often strict but fair. T|F|
2. Complete each sentence (A-H) with one of the endings (1-8): A. It is in the family that
B. Different parents have different views of what they want to
C. There are four types of parenting styles that differ in
D. Permissive parents fear to
E. Authoritarian parents force their sons and daughters to
F. Authoritative parents make rules appropriate to a child’s age and capabilities and serve as
G. As neglectful parents are too busy with their obligations they are
H. If parents want their children to be happy and to develop successfully, it is essential to
1. maintain harmony and the atmosphere of love, mutual respect, acceptance, understanding and open communication in their family.
2. values, norms and ideas are communicated from generation to generation.
3. lose their children’s love if they set limits.
4. a role model for him or her to follow providing support and guidance.
5. uninvolved in their children’s life.
6. ‘implant’ in the mind of their offspring.
7. the degree of parental demands and responsiveness.
8. obey a set of rules and punish them for a slight disobedience.
3. Imagine that you are a parent. What would you do in the following situations? – Your 9-year-old son refuses to perform the simplest duties about the house: to make his bed, to remove his toys, to wash his plate after dinner, etc.
– Your 12-year-old daughter has become aggressive and difficult to control. She spends too much time with her friends, shirks school and smokes. Your attempts to discipline her make the things worse.
– Your 6-year-old son asks you to buy him a very expensive toy. He does not stop talking about it. Besides, his best friend’s parents have already bought him ‘that wonderful robot’. You don’t want to upset your son but you can’t afford to buy this toy.
4. Answer the questions 1) What role does the family play in a child’s development?
2) Why is being a parent one of the most challenging tasks in the world?
3) What are parents’ duties? Which of them do you consider the most important?
4) How can you characterize the relationships between permissive parents and their children?
5) Why do child-rearing experts say that a permissive parenting style is not beneficial for children?
6) What are the disadvantages of an authoritarian parenting style?

7) Why is an authoritative parenting style the most recommended according to experts?
8) Why do children feel unloved and depressed if their parents adhere to a neglectful parenting style?
9) What should parents remember if they want to raise healthy and happy children?
10) What parenting style would you like to adhere to when you have children? Explain your choice.
5. Imagine you are a child-rearing expert. You have been asked to make a list of rules for parents. Continue the list A. Give your child a lot of love and warmth but don’t fear to be strict and to set limits.
B. Don’t be too harsh and demanding as too much pressure can make your child rebel against your authority and power.
C. Try to avoid ambiguity in giving directions. Don’t change your mind if you have already said YES or NO.

D. ……..
6. Read the quotations below. Choose any quotation and comment on it – ‘I believe that a parent’s role is to provide a path or opportunity for their children.’ (David Soul)
– ‘Consciously or unconsciously children pattern themselves on their parents.’ (A. Linkletter)
– A wise parent humors the desire for independent action, so as to become the friend and advisor when his absolute rule shall cease.’ (Elizabeth Gaskell)
– All the time a person is a child he is both a child and learning to be a parent. After he becomes a parent he becomes predominantly a parent reliving childhood.’ (Benjamin Spock)
– ‘If you raise your children to feel that they can accomplish any goal or task they decide upon, you will have succeeded as a parent and you will have given your children the greatest of all blessings.’ (Brian Tracy)
– A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone.’ (Billy Graham)
– ‘If you ‘ve never been hated by your child, you ‘ve never been a parent.’ (Bette Davis)
– ‘There is no friendship, no love, like that of the parent for the child.’ (Henry Ward Beecher)
Look at the pictures by Bidstrupp and say what mistakes the parents made. How can you characterize their parenting style? Give them some tips.

A. Look at the list of values, norms and traits that parents usually want their children to develop. Which of them do you consider more important? Organize a discussion with the other members of your group. Responsibility, good manners, obedience, tolerance, curiosity, unselfishness, responsiveness, self-reliance, industry, creativity, optimism, independence, thrift, self-control, determination, persistence, generosity, sociability

B. Read the text ‘Parenting: the Most Important Job on the Planet’ and say if you agree or disagree with the title.