As parents, it’s a question we often ask ourselves, but the answer can be quite elusive. And, naturally, this leads to a derivative set of questions such as –
- Is there a measure, a yardstick or even a definition for effective parenting?
- Is it subjective or something that can be generalised?
- Is it culture-specific or globally static?
- Is there a time limit or is it an endless task?
- Why do kids raised in the same family and given the same upbringing turn out different while growing and as adults?
- And when do we finally know whether or not we have been successful at parenting?
Undoubtedly there is this state of confusion that all parents live in and seek clarity on. So, allow me to try and help you figure it out as best as I can:-
So, what is ‘effective parenting’?
To be able to raise and nurture a good human being with a set of values and beliefs that are beneficial to him/her, as well as society at large, would constitute the best definition of the term. And the measure for that would be, how the individual interacts and relates to him/herself and those around.
Is effective parenting subjective or generalised?
The reality is, it’s easier said than done, it’s something we all struggle with as parents. There is neither a global standard for parenting nor a set of rules & regulations to follow. However, that being said, is the effectiveness something we can generalise or is it relative? For instance, although certain actions, traditions or behaviours may be the norm in some cultures, they may be frowned upon in others. In which case, it’s subjective.
However, I would still go with generalised because even though some values and beliefs may be subjective to the context, most ethically apply to us all. For example, facets like honesty, trust, compassion, commitment, sincerity, mutual respect etc. are values that are universally imparted to children.
So let’s just say, even though some customs of parenting may differ between cultures, parenting styles, which directly impact its effectiveness, can be adopted by all parents, no matter in which corner of the world they are.
Moulding an Individual
The old cliché about children being the clay that parents mould can mould and give shape to is still evident today. So, ideally, each pot cast in the same clay, should turn out identical, right? Wrong! While that may be true with the actual material, however, when considering the metaphoric term, the problem is, this particular clay referred to is sentient and, obviously, tremendously different. Each chunk comes with a mind and personality of its own, which, although subjected to a similar environment and depending on various factors, can react or respond very differently. This is what we call individuality.
As for setting a time frame to parenting, there is none. It’s a never-ending job which can often seem thankless but could also turn out to be extremely rewarding.
So, when do we know whether or not we have done a good job as effective parents? The answer will come to you through observation. Just as we would watch a plant grow, from the seed we have sowed, so shall we see the growth of our children into adults. How healthy and strong the tree will grow to and provide us with shade and shelter when needed, is something we need to wait and watch!
Stay tuned for my follow-up blog post on effective parenting.