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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Parenting Styles and Modes of Discipline across Cultures

“Study finds every style of parenting produces miserable, disturbed adults. A study released by the California Parenting Institute Tuesday shows that every style of parenting inevitably causes children to grow into profoundly unhappy adults. "Our research suggests that while overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life's difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood.” The Onion, October 26, 2011

While the above quote from the Onion is satire, it does introduce some important questions about parenting styles. What are the various styles of raising children throughout the world and are any of them really effective? Parenting styles vary between households, families, and cultures; each having different ways of raising their children. According to Diana Baumrind there are three different parenting styles. Do they differ cross-culturally, and if so are they considered to be acceptable in the current culture the family is living?

One common parenting style is called authoritarian parenting. In this style of parenting, children are expected to follow the strict rules established by the parents. Failure to follow such rules usually results in punishment. Authoritarian parents fail to explain the reasoning behind these rules. If asked to explain, the parent might simply reply, "Because I said so." These parents have high demands, but are not responsive to their children. According to Baumrind, these parents "are obedience- and status-oriented, and expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation" (1991).

In contrast to authoritarian parents, those with an authoritative parenting style establish rules and guidelines, however; they tend to be more democratic. Authoritative parents are responsive to their children and willing to listen to questions. When children fail to meet the expectations, these parents are more nurturing and forgiving rather than punishing. Baumrind suggests that these parents "monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive. Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive. They want their children to be assertive as well as socially responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative" (1991).

A permissive parent, unlike authoritarian or authoritative parents are less likely to establish rules for their children. Permissive parents, sometimes referred to as indulgent parents, make very few demands of their children. These parents rarely discipline their children because they have relatively low expectations of maturity and self-control. According to Baumrind, permissive parents "are more responsive than they are demanding. They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid confrontation" (1991). Permissive parents are generally nurturing and communicative with their children, often taking on the status of a friend more than that of a parent.

The parenting style adopted by a parent, and the nature of the relationship that they choose to establish with their children is greatly influenced by culture. Societal norms define parenting (although they are modified to accommodate personal style or preference). Across all cultures, the most basic premises of parenting are uniform; parents are expected to nurture and provide for their children, and to educate them. What does in fact differ across cultures is the approach that parents choose to employ while educating their children. The areas of parenting incorporated in this variation include roles, parent-child relationships, and practices related to raising and educating children (Bornstein & Bohr, 2011).

Although approaches to parenting differ cross-culturally, it is important to note that these variations must fall within the normal parameters of parenting. In other words, differences in parenting style, detailed in Baumrind's parenting typology (introduced above) do not include "deviant parenting, such as might be observed in abusive or neglectful homes (Darling, 1999)". Baumrind's typology, rather, references different parenting styles with regard to the level of control exerted by parents over their children. For example, authoritative-style parents would typically exert a greater level of control over their children than would permissive parents, the parent-child relationship would be more intensive, and parents' expectations of their children would be higher. This higher level of parental control, however, is unrelated to the level to which parents care for and educate their children; Darling posits that regardless of parenting style, parents are expected to "influence, teach and control their children (1999)". This in effect suggests that although approaches to parenting vary between cultures, acceptable parenting approaches include only parenting behaviors that fall within the normal variation spectrum of parenting. The normal range, therefore, does not include abusive or neglectful parenting behaviors - regardless of cultural dictates.

That being said, it is important to define what constitutes the normal range of parenting behaviors? Which parenting styles can be classified as abusive or neglectful? Are there cultures that include deviant parenting styles or practices in their definitions of the cultural norm?

As families immigrate to the United States they undergo the process of acculturation, which requires cultural and psychological changes. As immigrant parents interact with other parents, teachers, and professionals they gain different views of parenting as well as strategies that may depart from what has been ingrained in them. Most parents will then adopt some of these new strategies while also keeping some from their old culture. However, the practices they choose to adopt or modify varies from person to person and usually any changes that occur will be those in the public domain. Cultural maintenance of customs from the old culture with often be maintained in the private domain, which affects the home and family.

Educators may not be aware of the many practices that are common in different cultures. The American middle-class culture is one of the few cultures that uses positive reinforcement procedures while limiting punishment. Usually discipline is approached as isolating the misbehaving child and withdrawing love and affection for a period of time, which we see as more humane than those who incorporate physical punishment. The lack of knowledge that most educators have regarding child abuse and cultural differences in raising children results in misjudging the appropriateness of parental actions. Teachers often end up finding different practices as being abusive. Some culturally diverse parents may prefer to use quick physical punishment rather than ever hinting at emotional separation from their child that may create feelings of rejection.

A few of the many incidents that may arise are listed below:

-A novice teacher in a poor urban school district is distressed when upon seeking advise from colleagues regarding discipline, is told by them to use physical punishment. This coincides with the advise of the students in his class who tell him to "Hit `em upside the head". In fact, physical punishment is more accepted in the low socio-economic classes (Gollnick & Chinn, 1990; Horton & Hunt, 1968; Persky, 1974; Spinetta & Rigler, 1972; Hanna, 1988), and educators who teach these students are more likely to approve of corporal punishment (McDowell & Friedman, 1979; Bauer, Dubanoski, Yamauchi & Honbo, 1990), perhaps believing that one must "use what they know".

-A teacher phones a student's parents to inquire as to how that pupil came to have welts on his body. She is given a religious defense based on the biblical book of proverbs that promotes the use "the rod". Indeed, Fundamentalists, Evangelists, and Baptists respond more punitively in disciplinary situations than people who are affiliated with other major religious orientations (Hyman, 1988).

-A teacher wrestles with the issue of whether to report a poor student's parents who are, in her mind, neglectful. She is aware that in low income areas, early independence with limited guidance or training is the norm (Horton & Hunt, 1968; Miller, 1959), as is the use of inconsistent and harsh physical punishment whereby children are taught to obey rather than reason (Farrington, 1986; Hanna 1988; Stack, 1974). However, these practices violate her beliefs regarding proper child-rearing.
Culture not only affects how a child is disciplined but also the bond that may exist between parent and child. Some cultures may value a very close relationship, some more distant but controlling, and some may prefer to leave the child in the hands of others such as teachers or professionals. For example Bornstein and Bohr found that “Chinese Canadian transnational parents opt to allow grandparents to care for their infants, based on expectations of their culture of origin, despite emotional hardship and disapproval within the receiving culture” (2011).

With the complications that arise from each culture and society’s definition of abuse at what point would you determine that a family only needs information or assistance? At what point do children need to be removed?

How will you personally determine the difference between someone knowingly committing abuse or neglect and someone only going along with the type of behavior that they have been exposed to in their culture.

This blog was created by Natalie Wiggins, Kimberly Schielke, Rachel O'Hara, Penina Abraham, Wendy Fine, and Steve Barosi.


Gene Zannetti said...

Parenting style is a very important factor for school psychologists to be aware of in understanding children. The way an individual was/is raised will almost certainly have a great effect on them and how they interact with the world, especially with other people. School psychologists deal with many behavioral issues which can stem from the way in which the individual was raised. Understanding how a child was raised can therefore play a large role in taking control of behavioral issues. Ainsworth studied attachment style and the effects of parenting. It was noted that Authoritative parenting tends to lead to lead to a secure attachment in children. Such children are usually well adjusted and balanced. They are marked by relatively stable relationships with others. They have established a basic sense of trust with the world. Authoritarian parenting, by contrast, could lead to a more anxious attachment style. The child will usually be more preoccupied with consequences and avoiding punishment. Permissive parenting could lead to an ambivalent attachment style. These children may not have a strong sense of stability within their relationships. They are used to self-regulating, not taking orders or following directions. Like parenting styles, corresponding attachment styles are generalizations where many different variations and combinations exist. Attachment and parenting styles, when used as a guide not gospel, provide school psychologists with a good model for a basic understanding of most children.

Nick Vitaro said...

These are really challenging questions and I assume that the responses to these questions depends heavily on the culture in which you were raised and the system in which you were parented in. With that being said, I must consider my own biases based on the culture I was raised in and the parenting style of my parents when determining what I view as abuse and which parents I consider to be committing abuse and neglect to their child. In determining the difference between cultural norms and abuse, I think it is important to consider the parenting style and culture in which the parents of the child were raised. By uncovering the past of the adult and how they learned and developed to ultimately become an adult, the intentions of the parent will also be uncovered. A parent with overwhelmed negative feels about the abuse from their childhood might be more likely to be committing abuse rather than following cultural norms.

Kim Schielke said...

Gene, I completely agree that this is a very important topic for school psychologiss to be educated in. It is important to know the different cultures that the children you are working with come from so you do not offend anyones beliefs. I found the attachment stylestruly do make sense and relate to each parenting style. Its interesting to see what types of relationships children could have depending on the type of parenting style they were raised with.

Yes Nick i have to agree that these are challenging questions but I believe that anything that involves abuse of children is a challenge.Its true that as a society we define abuse by the way we were raised which makes everyones definition different. I agree that a parent who has grown up with abuse is more likely to be abusive as an adult but does that make it right for a parent to be abusive? I realize that it is a natural thing to repeat what you know but then it becomes an endless cycle. At what point does society need to step in to break the cycle.

michelle_C said...

I have to agree with Nick. Our individuals answers will most likely vary based on what culture we were raised in. It is hard to give one general definition as to what abuse is. I feel it is important, as a school psychologist, to be aware of the different beliefs and norms of various cultures. Even so, seeing that the law is different in America than anywhere else, it is important that you should make it known to the family what is acceptable and unacceptable in this country. As for families needing information or assistance, I feel every family needs both. You could never be too aware of the benefits or harms that your child is getting from ones parental role. It is always important, especially those not accustom to our culture, to be aware of what is strongly frowned upon, as well as illegal. Being able to determine when a child needs to be removed, from my perspective, is when I see or hear of physical harm or threats being placed against the child.
When it comes to the difference of determining when someone is knowingly committing abuse or neglect verses someone who is just following their culture, I believe it may be easier to separate the two. Based on a persons background you may be able to point out what aspects they view as a normal upbringing. This in comparison to someone who is ignorant, their would most likely be no cultural background that supports their behavior and therefore can determine that they are taking advantage of their cultural beliefs.

Penina Abraham said...

Re your statement that the impact that parents have on their children mustn't be underestimated - I completely agree; parents have a tremendous impact on their children's upbringing in all areas, for the good or for the bad. It is imperative that we, as school psychologists, take this fact into consideration while evaluating, assessing and advising young students.
I'd like to add that it is not solely a child's parents who have a large impact on his upbringing; teachers, principals and other in-school professionals spend just as much - if not more - time with students over the course of a day than their parents do. It is therefore important for in-school professionals and parents to work together to create and implement a productive educational plan for children.While it is true that parents lay the educational groundwork for their child's education, their efforts will be ineffective without reinforcement from in-school professionals. The same applies with in-school educational initiatives; consistency in education is key.
That being said, in order to create the necessary level of consistency, it is incumbent on in-school professionals to connect with parents, to understand their position and to respect their values. Therefore, understanding culture related dictates and cultural norms in essential for the establishment of a parent-teacher connection so that they can work cooperatively, as a team to attain their common goal.

Ifat Sade said...

This is a pivotal topic for school psychologists who practice in culturally diverse environment. As a parent for 15 years, I have tried different means of discipline and came to the conclusion that the most effective parenting style and a healthy one for both the child and parents is the authoritative parenting style. With this style we establish rules for the children to be follow and we set consequences (negative and positive). The kids are involved with every step and their thoughts and needs are taken into consideration. This parenting style is much more democratic and resembles the democratic society we live in; so why not discipline our kids with tools that they can use in their adult life in democratic society.
That being said, I don’t believe or use corporal punishment as negative consequence. Disciplining children is necessary to make children become social, productive, mentally fit and responsible adults; however, the infliction of physical pain can never be permissible. Some parents using corporal punishment as the last resort when their children do not respond to verbal warnings. Then, a short, sharp stimulus such as spanking used to inflict pain but no lasting damage. This is done in the attempt to teach their children a lesson about the difference from wright or wrong. When serious physical injuries occur when disciplined, then corporal punishment becomes child abuse and it must be reported. The reason I do not suggest the use of corporal punishment, especially with older kids, because it has adverse effects: Physical pain is likely to provoke resentment toward the parents and further misbehavior, children might lose their trust with the parent or adult who administer the physical pain and therefore isolate themselves from the parents and their relationship, some children will learn that physical force is an acceptable tool in human interaction and the most important factor to consider that children feel humiliated and lose their self-respect upon infliction of physical pain. Unfortunately, parents using corporal punishment across culture and within culture. There is strong need for free education in schools and community to educate parents about legitimate parenting tool of punishment and positive reward.

Natalie Wiggins said...

Ifat - I really like how you shared your style of parenting and explained how your choose to enforce consequences both positive and negative. I like how you describe authoritative parenting as a style in which the child is involved. I believe that it means more to the child (at any age) if they feel that they are apart of decision making. They are included, they know what is expected of them, they also know what will happen if they fail to follow a specific rule. With this type of system, the child does not have to guess "what will happen" with a punishment, is not a surprise.

In addition to Baumrind's initial study of 100 preschool children, researchers have conducted numerous other studies than have led to a number of conclusions about the impact of parenting styles on children.
• Authoritarian parenting styles generally lead to children who are obedient and proficient, but they rank lower in happiness, social competence and self-esteem.

• Authoritive parenting styles tend to result in children who are happy, capable and successful (Maccoby, 1992).

• Permissive parenting often results in children who rank low in happiness and self-regulation. These children are more likely to experience problems with authority and tend to perform poorly in school.

• Uninvolved parenting styles rank lowest across all life domains. These children tend to lack self-control, have low self-esteem and are less competent than their peers.

It is very interesting to see how each style can effect a child's personality and how they feel about themselves - even as adults. Do you find any similarities to the personality of yourself when you look back at how you were parented?

nick pomponio said...

As a soon to be parent, i have been thinking alot about parenting styles and how I'm going to be as a parent. Whenever I talk about it with my wife, I find myself constantly drawing from how my parents parented my siblings and I. This is just another example of what everyone is saying about how important parenting styles can be in influencing their children.

My father used physical punishment on us sometimes when we did things that he felt warranted it. For instance, if one of us hit one of our siblings, he would spank us a little or something like that. It was almost his way of saying "how do you like it?" I'm not saying it was right or wrong because I still haven't decided how I feel about it because it is such a tough topic with so many variables to consider. The physical discipline did not happen often, but it was sprinkled in there. I feel my parents did a good job of displaying qualities from all the parenting styles and how they acted depended on the situation they found themselves. Personally, I would never consider what my parents did to us as abuse, but in the world today it very well may be considered abuse.

With that being said, as a school professional, i believe if we see a child come to school with bruises it is our responsibility to react right away regardless of cultural background. However,how we deal with the situation can be sensitive to the cultural differences, but the abuse or corporal punishment should never be ignored or minimized just because of cultural differences. We shouldn't assume "oh thats just how they do it where they are from". While I recognize that there can be substantial cultural differences, personally I give very little leeway when it comes to child abuse.

Lauren Riker said...

Nick- I agree with the point you made about it being school professionals obligations to intervene if they suspect abuse. I too feel we must be mindful of cultural differences, however, that cannot stop us from protecting the welfare of children. It is an extremely fine line we must cross, but the law prevails and as professional we must adhere to it.

Natalie Wiggins said...

Lauren and Nick - You're exactly right. When it comes down to it, we are responsible for the welfare of the children we work with. Cultures and parenting styles aside, how corporal punishment is used and if/when it slides into abuse it will be us as professionals to raise the topic.

Penina Abraham said...

While reading your post and your comments about healthy vs non-healthy parenting styles, I couldn't help but think about the love component which is essential in any parent-child relationship, regardless of parenting style. Whether a parent opts for an authoritarian, authoritative or permissive parenting style, it is imperative that children feel the unwavering love and support of their parents. Its important to note that parental love is not only not contradictory to any of the above parenting styles, but it is an absolutely necessary component of every parenting style; although a parent may be authoritative, for example, his unyielding love for and support of his child is essential for healthy growth and development.

Wendy said...

I dont think I could of said it better myself. No matter the cultural differences, when seeing a child with bruises on them it is extremely important to find out where they came from and if abuse, report it. The way you handle the situation should most definitely be cultural sensitive. If parents believe they are raising their child correctly with abuse because it is a part of their culture, it is important to tell them that that is not acceptable in the American culture. Dealing with parents from different cultures can be extremely tricky and it is important to remain sensitive while getting your point across. If the parent feels like they are being attacked, nothing will get accomplished.

Rachael O'Hara said...

I agree of course that as soon as we see any signs of abuse on the children it must absolutely be dealt with.
But it is extremely important to keep in mind what the customs in that person’s culture are. The reasons for their actions will not excuse them, but will be very important in explaining to them why it is not accepted here.
For example, Ifat, you mentioned that you believe it will cause adverse effects such as resentment or lost of trust with the parent, or even further misbehavior. However this idea can be the exact opposite in other cultures. Some families may believe that it is much more hurtful to the child to be separated emotionally from the parent than it is to give them a quick, brief lasting physical reminder. To them, having them go to their room alone or be given the idea that the parent would rather not deal with them could have longer lasting effects and be more detrimental to the parent/child relationship.
So again, although this will not justify any sort of abusive behavior it must be taken into account when explaining to the parent what is going on. If you try and present them the argument that they are hurting their child as well as their relationship they may not get the message, because if deviates so much with what they believe in.

nick pomponio said...

Wendy what you said about it being tricky is most definitely true. Even if you completely disagree or disapprove of the way they are treating their child, they have to feel that you understand their point of view if they are ever going to take you and your advice seriously. Like you said, if they feel they are being attacked nothing will be accomplished and only the child will be hurt by that.

I agree with what you wrote about love being a necessary component of every parenting style, but I also feel that how that love is shown to the child might be even more important. If a parent constantly says "I'm only hitting you because I love you or this hurts me more than you" what kind of message is that sending to the child. This is a very tough topic because I have seen kids raised by parents who constantly showed love and affection turn into criminals and just unproductive adults. Also, at the same time one of my best friends came from a family where he was constantly beaten and never shown love or any positive attention and he ended up becoming a doctor with 2 kids already and he is a great father to them. And this is where he contradicts what I believe. Even though he was never shown any love and grew up thinking he was worthless, he was able to turn that into the great life that he has made for himself. By no means is he perfect because he definitely has his issues due to what he went through, but he has not let it slow him down in life. While I do believe that parental love and the expression of that love to the kids is vital, I do acknowledge that sometimes people can succeed and be well adjusted in spite of experiencing that lack of love.

Ifat Sade said...

I agree with you that our point of view depend on the culture in which we were raised and the system in which we were parented in. There is a cross-cultural misunderstanding in regard to parenting discipline and corporal punishment. The role that parents play in raising their kids differs from culture to culture and therefore, sometimes parents feel that they are being labeled, judged and misunderstood by the dominant culture and society. It is a very sensitive and complex issue not only across culture, but between the same-culture couples and mixed-culture couple. How often do we agree on our own approaches method of parenting or disagree? My husband and I come from the same culture, but sometimes we disagree on the way we discipline our kids. He is more authoritarian and I more authoritative and therefore our parenting style clashes. We need to be ardent toward others especially parents from diverse culture and ethnicity, but at the same time we need to reflect on our own parenting styles and avoid being judgmental.

Ifat Sade said...

Your friend’s success is inspirational story of resilience. It demonstrates the inner strength that is necessary to overcome negative experiences and events that affect our lives. It is individuals’ self-efficacy and capabilities to create for themselves high levels of accomplishment and success. Unfortunately, there is heterogeneity in outcome in children exposed to physical punishment and physical or even verbal abuse. We need to advocate for those children and help them built resilience and give them the tool to cope with adverse stressors.

Dana Koplik said...

I think that this was a really good topic to bring up because parenting style and discipline have a huge impact on a child both at home and when they're at school. As a school psychologist, it is important to understand the home environment a child is coming from. Like the blog said, so many parents in America try to use positive reinforcement more and punishment less when caring for their children. Some parents are more concerned with being their kids' friend rather than being a parent. I think this could be because alot of parents in this country work long hours and feel guilty about it. They do not want to come home at the end of the day and be the disciplinarian to their kids, but want to have fun with them while they are together. Then when stricter rules and guidelines are expected at school, it cause inconsistency and confusion for many children. For example, if a child is getting behavioral interventions at school and they are not being followed through on at home, it is sending them mixed messages. It's important for school psychologists and parents to stay on the same page when it comes to discipline if it is going to work.
On the other hand, other cultures value stricter styles of parenting that we also need to be aware of. Some forms of discipline that we may consider abuse may be the norm in a child's house. I think that determining what crosses the line into abuse or neglect can be really difficult. Like Ifat said, I think that if the child is becoming permanently harmed in any way it should be considered abuse. I think this should include not only physical scars and bruises but if the child starts to become depressed, withdrawn, or aggressive as a result of their parents' discipline style then it should be considered abuse too. Overall, parenting style and discipline is there to help children learn and grow into productive adults and should not be a source of harm.

Rachael O'Hara said...

Dana, I think you bring up a great point about parents feeling guilty about how little they actually do get to be around their children, and as a result prefer to take on the “friend role”. They may often leave it up to us to be the disciplinarian not only because they don’t want their child to be upset with them during the few moments they have in the day, but also because in some cultures parents think that discipline and direction is ONLY to be left to the ‘professionals’. They may even think it would be offensive to the educators or school psychologist if they were to take on that role themselves.
So as this problem arises in our careers we need to think of what we can do to create some sort of consistency between school and home when the parents do not want to be involved in this aspect. What kind of strategies can we implement that will motivate children to continue the same behaviors that are expected at school, at home? Or how can we convince the parents that it is in their child’s best interest to follow through with the same discipline and behavioral expectations that they are receiving at school.

Penina Abraham said...

@ Dana, Rachel
You both raised a very valid point regarding the importance of consistency between school and home. As mentioned above, consistency and therefore communication between in school professionals and parents at home is essential for creating a successful behavioral program. When an appropriate level of consistency in behavioral expectations and repercussions is not established, confusion is created, and the behavioral program that was implemented is thus ineffective.
I'd like to add that the appropriate level of consistency is a largely subjective concept; in each situation the meaning of the word appropriate changes. One factor which greatly impacts the application of appropriate consistency is the parenting style in the home; it may be necessary for in school professionals to 'balance parents out' and employ firmer policies with a child whose parents, for example, are highly permissive. And the same is true in the reverse. It is important to note though that regardless of parenting style or preference, the basic behavioral model and expectations must not change between home and school. It should be clearly defined to children that in school professionals and parents are working together to achieve a common goal.

Sergio Oliva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sergio Oliva said...

We must be mindful of cultural differences in parenting style; however, if the parents utilize corporal punishment, we must determine how much of this is culturally bound and how much is due to extraneous (non-related) reasons. Unfortunately, due to occupational stressors, marriage problems, or financial challenges, some parents may inadvertently unleash their stress on their children. These parents may feel that they lack the time or patience to develop a more balanced and responsive relationship with their child.

Knowing the context of corporal punishment is key; if the parent insists on using physical punishment due to their cultural beliefs, we must ensure that the consequence adequately fits the offense and is not excessive. Important question to ask the parents include: “is this how other people in your community discipline their children?", "Would your family agree with your methods?”, and "is this how you were disciplined when you were a child?". Any significant discrepancies between their responses to these questions and their own methods of corporal punishment may give insight to the "appropriateness" of the discipline.

As parent trainers, it is important to highlight the benefits of the authoritative style of parenting. This demanding-yet-responsive style will not only improve the parent-child relationship and the child's self-esteem, it will also facilitate the development of autonomy and emotional resilience. Autonomy, in particular, will help the adolescent with finding and maintaining a job and pursuing post-secondary education.

When disciplining is required, the consequences should be made explicit and should be made known to the child before the offense is committed. With this strategy, the child will understand why their behavior is inappropriate and why the consequence was required; with successful punishment, the parent will teach the child why the behavior was adverse. However, corporal punishment (and authoritarian style, in general) teaches the child to avoid the punishment, but does not successfully teach the child why the behavior was inappropriate.

P.S.: On your free time, everyone should check out the show "Supernanny" on ABC. The nanny, Jo Frost, helps parents who are struggling with child-rearing. Through instruction, she teaches parents to develop authoritative, balanced, and responsive approaches to discipline. I'm not sure how much of the show is scripted, but for what its worth, it's quite educational and entertaining.

karenaf25 said...

I must say that that these questions makes one have to look at themselves and how they were raised. Our cultures and upbringing are going to create biases on how we view others. For myself when I have had to work with families from the Latino culture that have some harsher punishment styles and practices than those in the US I have had a difficult time explaining to them that some of their approaches can be viewed as abuse and could be reported to social services. What made it hard at times is the reason of how I was raised. I grew up in a strict Latin household. I was hit at times. I would never think of it as abuse. I knew I did something wrong and I was being punished for it.
That being said I do feel that it is our role as school psychologists and as people who work with children to be proactive and report cases where we feel that the safety and welfare of a child may be in danger. My approach has always been to be honest with the parents and while culturally sensitive. I have had better reactions than negative when I explain to the parents that although I understand that their parenting styles may be normal where they are from in the United States it raises some concerns and I have their child's best interest in mind and it is my obligation to report my concerns to Social Services. I also ask them if they would feel more comfortable if I made the phone call in their presence.
Of course I would not use this approach in cases where it is very clear that there is serious abuse taking place and the child is scared. In those cases I just call DYFS and report.
This is such a touchy and sensitive topic. It definitely causes one to reflect on one's own experiences.

Kim Schielke said...

I get the feeling that most people believe that when physically punished by their owns parents do not see it as abuse but rather as a mean of showing right from own, which I believe to be deemed appropriate in some cases. However, I feel that when it gets out of hand and a child is coming to school with bruises and anything else than it becomes inappropriate and as school psychologists it would be our responsiblility to step in and find out the facts before making any assumptions. Yes, it is important to step in but it is very important to know all the facts before making serious assumptions about abuse in a household. I think we all can agree that it is our responsibility to step in and help a child tht may need it but it is very important to know all the facts including the cultural ones as well before jumping to conclusions. I feel like in our society we are always ready to jump to the wrong conclusions because we tend to think thie worse about people. But it is not always that way amid I think we need to steer away from that thinking and give people the benefit of the doubt until their is evidence pointing to a direction.

Nick Vitaro said...

Kim, I agree that aside from parenting style and cultural factors, if it becomes obvious that a child is suffering from abuse action must be taken. And as Penina wrote, the love component is important in any parenting style. Regardless of culture and parenting style, the parent must be loving their child in the process. For me, it would be difficult to proclaim that the parent is abusive if they prove that their primary concern is loving their child.

Nick Vitaro said...

Just to finalize my thoughts from above, I think that the difference between abuse and punishment is the degree to which the parent is truly loving their child.

Rachael O'Hara said...

I also think we are limiting our focus to only physical abuse, but what about neglect?
I'm sure through our careers we will come across a situation where a child is maybe left at home alone for most of the time. Could this be considered a type of parenting that leaves the child in danger? Of course age will be considered but other factors may come into play. Maybe the parents need to work multiple jobs to support the child. But even if the intentions are good, can we still allow this to happen? How can we offer guidance in such situations.

Charlotte O'Hara said...

This is a great topic, I agree that there certainly needs to be consistency between home and school life regarding discipline. If a child is following a certain discipline style at school and then goes home to a different style they will have trouble deciding how to act. As the school psychologist we have to try and be aware of all the cultural issues and the different possible parenting styles so that we may understand how the child is behaving and find ways to resolve the behaviors.

We certainly have to be on the lookout for abuse, as said above it is important to understand that in some cultures certain forms of discipline are not considered abuse.

@Sergio- I think he said it best, we are not just here for the children we are "parent trainers" as well. It is our responsibility to understand cultural differences and at the same time judge when it is our place to step in and teach parents the best way to raise and discipline their children. We have to create a learning environment for the child at school and also make sure there is consistency at home, so we need to understand their home life and make sure it is a healthy environment.

It is also our job to look out for all signs of abuse by parents. Abuse is not always in the form of cuts or bruises. In the school I am observing at I saw a child come in extremely distraught about going home, he was actually afraid to go home. I had received a "sad face" at school because of his behavior and didn’t want to go home because he was going to get hit. We did not see any marks on him but we had to report it as abuse because the child was clearly emotionally affected by the way his parents were disciplining him. As school psychologists it is important to always keep the children's safety in mind while also acting as parent trainers to create healthy school and home lives for these children.

Lindsay Matassa said...

I feel as though no family fits into one of the three parenting styles. Families today are changing and there is no "norm." Growing up I was lucky and my mom especially was always around. Today, picking up the kids I babysit from school it is like a whole new world. Many students are picked up by babysitters or aupairs because the parent work. Obviously, I see nothing wrong with these parents working to make a living for their family, but what ends up happening is that role of parenting is switched over to the babysitters and the aupairs and the bond between the parent and child is often not as strong. I know the family I work for the mom is often home working but is downstairs and often tells her children to leave her alone while she is working. What is this telling the children..I am here but you can't be by me?
In reguards to differences in cultural and parenting styles I feel that school psychologists definitely need to take that into consideration when dealing with a child and an issue, especially abuse. Everyone views things differently and raises their kids differently. I student teach in a town that the majority of the students are Asian. There is a major language barrier that must be dealt with. For instance, we went on a classtrip to a farm to pumpkin pick. We had a student show up with no lunch and it was cold and rainy and she had no jacket and wore sandals. The child was upset the whole day because of the misunderstanding. In my mind I thought, "how can a parent do this to a child." But in reality they might not have been able to understand the situations. As professionals in a school setting we need to look at other cultures and begin to understand their differences. In order to break through those barriers we need to communicate with one another.

catherine Mattia said...

I agree with what Gene wrote. School pshchologists need to understand the family as whole especially the parenting style to be able to understand the child because this is how the child is being taught what is acceptable and what is not acceptable behavior . Parents are the one who teach children how to act around other . Therefore school psychologists should get to know the children and their family environment on an indivual level. But I do believe it all depends on the culture we are apart of that will determine what is acceptable parenting behavior and behavior of the childeren .

Michelle Montoya said...

Parenting in this generation or any has been a very influential factor in how a child might become in a future. My belief is that culture plays a huge role in how parents raise their children, they only know of what they have been thru in raising their child as they where raised. I personally come from a Latino culture, and my parents have inculcated our culture on my brothers and I. I agree that its hard for parents that migrate to united states and have to adapt to mestizo culture in the United States, my parents themselves I realized how they have adapted to this culture. Every parenting style may be different which makes it harder for teachers and psychologists to interact with every student and their upbringing. If any child is undergoing abusiveness or isolation in their household a teacher must do the right thing so this child may receive the necessary help including their parents.

ChrisM said...

I think abuse begins when the child is not able to learn or take any lesson away from the punishment.It is the parents responsibility to recognize this,and to adjust the punishment according to the child's level of perception of the situation or the lack thereof. Parenting styles obviously vary,and culture is another factor making no one method the universal answer to the equation.I think that a mix of the styles of parenting depending on the child's personality, behavior, response to prior punishment and even cultural practices should all be taken into play by a good parent.

Emily Medeiros said...

I think it is important to understand that much to all of our dismay, abuse happens more than we all know about. As an educator, i think it is important for them to keep a constant eye out to notice some signs of possible abuse, always. If signs are noticed, then it is their responsibility to make it known to a higher official than themselves.
I grew up in a household where there were two different types of parenting styles occurring. My mom was the more authoritative one. She wanted us to learn from our mistakes, yet know that there are consequences for our actions. Meanwhile, my dad was more of the friend parent. He went against most of what my mom said, if he even said anything at all. He left most of the parenting and "good cop bad cop" thing up to her. So i know what its like to come from a place of more than one style. I think it is confusing for kids growing up to come from houses like that. Perhaps, its easier for parents to consult one another and agree on one type of parenting skill- this way the children know exactly how to behave and what consequences/reprocussions will occur.
I also think it is important to be wary of culture differences. Many cultures, like you said, have different ways of dealing with certain situations. Wishing that in America there would be a certain way of parenting seems to be just wishful thinking. I don't agree with psychical punishment. I don't see the effectiveness of hitting your child. I wasn't raised that way, so perhaps thats why i feel that way. I think there are other just as effective ways to teach your children right from wrong. You can still be forceful and clear with your message without resorting to violence. I just wish everyone would see things this way. Respect is a big part of life. If you expect children to respect you, you need to respect them-- all the while emphasizing the fact that they need to know their societal roles.

paola said...

I think it can be just as dangerous to report a kid to child protection agency when the suspicion or proof of abuse is not strong enough than it is to let abuse happen in some cases. I might just have this view because I have seen kids get taken away from very loving, good parents just because there was a misunderstanding or exaggeration of a report of behavior by someone who was either working with the child or a teacher of the child's at school. At the same time, when there are obvious signs of abuse or neglect, such a child having marks on their body, flinching when someone comes too close to them, or if they have lost a lot of weight, it is always necessary to look into the situation. I would probably first ask the child and see if I could get a sense of what his or her parents are like and his or her culture, but if this does not provide enough information, I would have to call the parents and just ask them about what I observed and see if I could get a sense of their intentions. It really comes down to how the child reacts to the parents and the other way around so I would probably want to see this interaction in person to get a sense of whether or not there is real abuse going on.

Jaclyn Barber said...

These are such difficult questions to consider. As a teacher, or any prominent figure in a school, we are a student's advocate no matter what their age. Sometimes being overcautious is necessary, especially when considering a child who comes in to school with welts, dirty, or unfed. When children cannot rely on the adult figures in their household, they need to find some other adult they can trust and depend on. As a teacher or school psychologist, we need to realize this when we sign up for the job. Our job does not end when the bell rings, it is constant. All students, especially those being neglected or mistreated, need a voice and as their teacher we become that voice they are desperately seeking.

One of my most vivid memories of my grandfather when he was mad was him threatening to take of his belt. He would act like he was going to unbuckle it or he would take an extra curtain rod that was on top of a cabinet and act like he was going to hit us. My grandfather is 80 years old and he was raised in a time when physical discipline was acceptable. My grandfather never actually hit me and he never would have no matter what I did, he just wanted to instill that slight fear in me. I understand that some parents think that is the best way to discipline their children, but when a child is bruised and beaten that takes it beyond discipline. So yes, we do need to consider generational/cultural differences when thinking about parenting styles, but if a child is injured or unkempt then, to me, there is no difference. Abuse is abuse.

Timothy McGullam said...

Developing a parenting style is a unique way for each individual to decide how they are going to raise their children. These styles are definitely something that is influenced by the culture in which a person grows up. The basic premises for parenting are pretty uniform though across the world. Parents are expected to nurture and provide for their children, as well as educate them. Educating a child is a key factor to the way a child grows up. It is the knowledge passed from parents to children that helps form the person they will become when they get older. Another factor that helps develop a child as well is the level of control in which parents have over their children (although educating a child and the level of control are completely unrelated).
Diana Baumrind has stated that there are three different specific types of parenting. They include authoritarian parenting, authoritative parenting, and permissive parenting. Authoritarian parenting is a style in which children follow strict rules given by the parents. Failure to follow these rules will result in punishment. The parents do not give reason behind the rules they have developed and will typically give limited explanation, like “Because I said so.” I know I have heard this quite often growing up. These parents have high demands for their children but are not responsive to them. Next, we have authoritative parenting. This style of parenting includes rules and guidelines given by the parents. However, parents who practice this style are clearly more democratic. They are responsive to their children and the questions they may have. Also, there is little punishment involved due to the fact that these parents are more nurturing and forgiving. Finally, we have the permissive parenting style. This style includes parents that are less likely to establish any rules for their children. These parents are sometimes referred to as indulgent, showing no regards to discipline. Children raised this way tend to show little signs of maturity or self-control. Also, the parents are likely looked at as friends to their children rather than a parent.
I would say that I grew up with my parents’ style of parenting falling some place between authoritarian and authoritative. While they established rules and guidelines, they were not very democratic about them. I generally always got punished if I did not follow their rules. Me, being the political man that I am, always wanted to discuss why I was being punished, and why did my parents always have the overall decision? I frequently heard the typical, “Because I said so,” or “I do not have to answer to you. I’m the parent.” My family is probably your typical American middle-class family. There was a statement made in the text that I disagree with. It stated that the American middle-class uses positive reinforcement while limiting punishment. My parents definitely have, and always had, very high standards for me. However, they became unresponsive to my success after a while. Now I get the occasional “good job,” whereas I used to get money and other forms of positive reinforcement. Additionally, I grew up surrounded by many middle class families and it was rare that I did not see any children get punished. While positive reinforcement was there, positive punishment was as well (thankfully, not for me).
Overall, as far as culture is concerned, parenting styles are definitely affected by the place you grow up in. The example from the text showed that immigrants learn new parenting styles when they move to a new country. Although they may keep some of their old techniques, they will typically adopt new ones. Also, in many countries, parents will choose who their children will marry. This affects the way the child is brought up. They cannot date and they know they do not have the choice to marry who they want to. These different styles of parenting are passed down no matter what culture a person is from. As times change, parenting styles may as well.

Matt Kane said...

Having kids is not an easy thing. Parents want the best for there child. To give your child the best sometimes guidance is required. It is true most children go through times of not listening but there are different ways of dealing with the problem. For instance the article goes over authoritarian parental and how they are respected but the parents give to many restrictions which cause the children to rebel. Than there is the other view of laid back parents who are more like best friends and do not do not control their kids very well. So when I think what type of parent i want to be it want to be able to have my children respect. When they mess up I want them to fix their mistake and learn from it. Punishments would only be used in extreme cases just like how there courts. By doing this i expect my child to succeed. I cam from a family where my dad was permissive and as i got older rarely struck fear in me. I turned out well but on the other hand my sister did not fare as well and took advantage of my dads and moms kindness. All in all it takes a parent to realize what their kid is like and do their best to steer them in the right direction but when it comes down to it, it is the child's decision. I feel parents should emphasize that the most for every action there is a reaction.

Nichole Draheim said...

When it comes to parenting styles, I believe that schools should be aware of the different parenting styles out there. If they understand how a child is raised, then they can understand why the child behaves the way they do. If a child grows up in a home where there isn't much discipline, then the schools can understand thats why a child is behaving the way they are. Although there are many different parenting styles out there, I do not believe that abuse or neglect should be tolerated at all. When it comes to children, they should not have to deal with abuse or neglect. Yes, some parents grew up in a time period when hitting was acceptable, but in todays society, it is not acceptable. I feel like a child should be taken away when their health and safety are in danger. No child should have to deal with being abused or neglected because it just isn't right and not a way in which anybody should want to live or be raised.

Dan Rutz said...

Well because each culture has their own definition of abuse it is really hard when dealing with someone from a different background. When I was growing up there were certain times when misbehaving led to physical punishment. Whether it was being spanked with a wooden spoon or a belt it was expected after particular misbehavior. That was a normal punishment. It didn't happen often, and it was only for more serious cases, but I would never have considered it abuse. Now someone who was raised differently might think that being smacked upside the ass with a belt is abusive, but to my brothers and I it wasn't.
If you, as a teacher, think abuse is going on in a home I think it is paramount to get some history on the matter. If the punishment is consistent, but rare and not to harsh I think it might be alright to simply offer information about different techniques for punishment. Now on the other hand if you find out that the parent recently got fired, or picked up drinking, or something else of that nature happened and the physical punishment is unbearable, inconsistent, or out of the ordinary than you may have a bigger problem on your hands. If the situation isn't remedied soon then it may be time to try and remove the child.
I think to tell the difference between if someone following a custom or knowingly abusing also comes down to history. If as a child someone was occasionally punished physically and it helped them to stop the vice they may consider it effective and implement it when they become a parent. It could be out of respect for their parents or simply because they think it works. If someone goes above and beyond what their parents did to them they could be knowingly abusive. Also if they don't think the type of punishment their parents used worked, but they want their kids to go through what they did that might seem like knowingly being abusive as well.

Alexandra Moreta said...

While I agree with many points on the blog and in many comments, I recall something my aunt told my cousin when she was going to have her first child. Children don't come with handbooks!
You do the best you can and give as much love as needed and discipline when necessary. You do your best and hope your child is the epitome of what you would like them to be; or as close to it as possible.
I completely agree with my aunt. Children do not come with manuals and we can only do what we can and hope for the best with our children. Thankfully there are many articles and books to help us through our journey of parenthood. But no two cases are the same with children.
So I repeat be the best parent you can be and hope for the best.

Lisa Nicole Williams said...

What is most important to remember is that when raising our children we must look at each situation holistically. Each factor that was mentioned plays a huge role as in how the child is cared for, disciplined, and educated. There are a few different parenting styles, but in my opinion when you are not doing your best to supply the child what they need it is abuse. It may not be considered to be the same abuse as strong, negative verbal interactions or physical harm. However, all the child has is their caretaker and if they aren't equipping the child with the necessities then they are failing them. Culture plays a huge role and it really all depends on what people are willing to assimilate into. If people are immigrating to this country and have strong values from their nation of origin then they are going to be resilient towards change. As future educational professionals I do encourage the idea that if we see something that is out of the norm that we should investigate, whether it be physical markings or unusual behaviors. Being a parent means being there but not being a friend. Maybe later on in life once the child has life experience and truly understands the role in which their parents play in their life they can become friends. However, I personally feel that at a young age giving them all the freedom they desire is doing much more damage than good. Each child is different and requires different approaches when it comes to discipline and grabbing/holding their attention. Regardless, we need to keep our children safe and culture can only be an "excuse" for so long. If a child is being hurt and we turn a blind eye to it, we have only us to blame if something more serious becomes of it.

Ortega said...

With the complications that arise from each culture and society’s definition of abuse at what point would you determine that a family only needs information or assistance? At what point do children need to be removed?
Growing up in a typical Hispanic home I have firsthand experience with the hardships, trials and tribulations my parents faced that came with raising two girls in America. They migrated from Ecuador not only to give themselves a better life, but to provide a lifestyle for their unborn they never had. My parents grew up in a strict authoritarian household with a combination of much abuse and neglect. When raising my sister and I much of what they knew carried over in their parenting method however not to the degree they experienced growing up but just as severe in my eyes. They conformed some aspects of their parenting in public due to the new cultural environment and their adaptation to the American culture. Yet, behind closed doors all bets were off, things that are without a doubt considered abuse from spankings to full beatings to verbal abuse and finally confusion afterword’s that derived in us from their words of guilt and hugs after the fact. As we got older the physical abuse deteriorated and communication, along with positive reinforcement and punishment were enforced. Today I can confidently testify that my parents were not bad people but merely a product of their environment with misguidedness and ignorance. I believe that they slowly adapted to the American way to raise us as they established themselves into the country. My parents needed help as do most parents and I believe that every parent deserves a chance to right their wrongs so they may be better parents and even greater grandparents. Unfortunately some children should be removed if the situation is too severe with drugs, sexual abuse and/or physical abuse and if the situation at home does improve for the child’s sake.
How will you personally determine the difference between someone knowingly committing abuse or neglect and someone only going along with the type of behavior that they have been exposed to in their culture.
I feel it is difficult to judge someone in just two categories of knowingly committing abuse and those going along with their culture. As in everything there is an extreme on 2 levels and middle. In my opinion my parents were stuck in the middle. They were torn between their culture, what they have known all their life and the fact that they knew they were harming their children. My parents knew what they were doing was wrong because they felt the guilt after words: However they lacked the knowledge to respond in a different way. A person may know what they are doing is wrong but be helpless because of their prior knowledge to the way they know to fix a problem. My parents were able to gain more information along the way and incorporate it into their parenting, while simultaneous removing the negative. On the other hand, on one extreme some parents maliciously harm their children and do not believe it is wrong due to their culture, as was seen many times on the news with parents that conduct honor killings. And those that knowingly harm their children and know it’s wrong and simply do not care to change either because of their culture. Every situation should be assessed differently.

ortega said...

I concur with Kim’s last comment that each situation must be evaluated individually and get to the root of the problem when evaluating abuse in the household. Kim also elaborated and explained that assuming and jumping to conclusions is our society norm and should not be the way things are done except to give the person the benefit of the doubt. I agree that our society does jump to conclusions and assumes the worst; in cases like Casey Anthony and many others like hers around the country it’s no wonder why people react in this manner. I agree that jumping to conclusions is the wrong approach when trying to rectify or identify the problem but there is no giving someone the benefit of the doubt. It is or it isn’t abuse. The next step is finding how to fix it.

Regina Wietecha said...

Every parenting style is different. This I know too from growing up in a home where the parenting style was different with my sisters and myself. The main difference for this is because I saw how my sisters had gotten punished and I thought that I did not want to get punished as they have so therefore I did not do the things that they did. It is true that how an individual is raised will have an effect how they are with the world but yet parents should teach their children to be confident regardless of the punishment. If anything a child should, in my mind, be talked to after the punishment that way they know why they were punished and what they have learned from that punishment. Some children do not even know the reason they are being punished and if talked to the reasons for not doing a certain thing then they are able to see it through the parents eyes. By talking with the child you may also establish more communication which can lead the relationship to grow in a positive way.

Patty Fochesato said...

The topic of parenting style does make me think about how I was raised & how I tried to raise my own children. I was raised by my mother because my father died when I was young. Looking back to my childhood I can say my mother was very overwhelmed by having to raise three young children on her own. I would have to say her parenting style was permissive. She was extremely lenient. It might be partly because she was overwhelmed by her situation and did everything to avoid any type of confrontation. Because of my own childhood I did want to raise my children differently. I believe I was more of an authoritative parent. I do not believe in physical punishment for any reason. I don’t believe children learn from being spanked. I have a 25 year old daughter and a 23 year old son, which I never used physical punishment as a way to punish. This was difficult in my home because my husband was raised in a strict Italian home. His parent were born and raised in Italy. My husband was raised with physical punishment as an answer when he or his sibling did something wrong. My in-laws were very against how my children were being raised. They believe every child needs to be spanked and that’s the only way children learn. My husband’s brothers are extremely anger violent adults. I believe there is a difference in parenting a child and abusing a child. When a teacher suspects abuse in going on at home for a student I believe it should be reported immediately. All children deserve to live in a safe home where they feel loved.

Courtney Post said...

Parenting styles are different all over the world. It all depends where your parents and/or yourself grew up. I do not think abuse or neglect is something that a child should have to go through. I do feel that if that is happening to a child that someone should see this so that the child will find some help. Everyone just has to remember that cultures to play a large part in how a child is raised and it should be taken into consideration when teaching so that you would be able to understand the children that you are teaching.

Gabrielle Walker said...

I agree that parenting style is greatly influenced by one’s culture. It is critical that school psychologists are educated on the various types of parenting styles in order to better serve and understand students with certain types of behavioral problems. I also think it is important that school psychologist don’t judge parents based on the parenting style that they utilize. I’m sure many other cultures would not agree with how Americans choose to raise their children or their daily discipline practices. Americans typically do not utilize physical punishments like many other cultures do. I am not confident that I will be able to adequately determine whether someone is knowing committing abuse or simply following their culture. Everyone has their own definition of abuse therefore I think it is important to have an open dialogue with students and their family. I would always use the rule, if in doubt get help because it’s better to be safe than sorry.

I think people of low socio economic status, from urban areas are often viewed as being neglectful parents. I think it is important that psychologists realize that these families have a different family dynamic. Due to the fact that these parents often work long hours to provide for their families their children often become extremely independent. Simply because they may not be home to greet their children after school or become a member of the PTA doesn’t mean they do not care about their children and their education. In all, school psychologist need to make it clear to students and families that their main purpose is to help and that there are many resources available if needed.

Londone said...

Parenting obviously vary depending on the culture, however i think it is important for everyone to figure out their own parenting style, and try to build from it. Parenting doesnt come with a book on how to be the best parent. There are guides out there on what to do in certain situations but every child and every parents relationship is different so we all have to go with what works for us. As a parent of two small children, i'm still trying to figure out what works for me. Sometimes it may be authoritarian where, if they do not do what is asked of them, then there are consequences, which may be no television, or time out for five minutes. Or for my older cousin who i also take care of, I may take her phone away or cut it off for a couple of days, but at the same time, I also explain to them why they are being punished and make sure they understand what is going on.

In regards to knowing or at least noticing when a person or a child may be in need of assistance or possibly being removed out of the house for abuse. I believe that there are always warning signs. Although every culture is different, the interaction between a child and their parents will give off warning signals that will let you know if there is trouble in the home. There may be a disconnect between the parent and the child, or the child may be overly sensitive to the parents reaction to certain things.Or if the child is being physically abused, he or she may try to cover up the bruises by wearing long sleeves, or pants during the warm weather. During the winter seasons, it may be hard, but you can still tell by the childs behavior. You can talk to the parent and the child before it esculates to physical violence in the home. But I think it is really hard to decide when a child should be removed from the home, versus when a parent is just in need of assistance. But overall, there are signs of abuse, regardless of the culture.

Sidney Whitfield said...

Parenting styles is often a very "touchy" subject. Not every child is the same and so not every parent or parenting style should be the same. The problem with parenting styles occur when parents are more focused on falling under a certain style or not falling under a certain parenting style, because then true parenting is overshadowed by the parents desire to be in a certain category. It is also unfair to say parenting styles alone are what shape adults because honestly paenting styles are one of many contributing factors that nuture children from childhood into adulthood. As a parent my only guide is unconditional love and sometimes that calls for discipline and other times its hugs and kisses (but he is only six months so we are generally on hugs and kisses terms).

Sean McGoonan said...

I think that this is such delicate and difficult subject matter due to the fact that abuse is such a subjective term; therefore, I think the only way to really determine abuse is to actually observe the perspectives of the "abuser" and the "abused." I feel as if the motive and intention, as well as the message recieved are all important factors in deciding whether or not abuse is actually occuring.

Like many others, my father diciplined me physically when I was young on more than one occasion. Depending on the severity of my behavior, I was spanked with an open hand or if I did something that was really unacceptable I got the belt. The belt only came out twice. The first time I learned never to do what I did to get the belt again. The second time I learned never to do anything that might get the belt again. It wasn't abuse, though. I say it wasn't abuse because my fathers intentions were to dicipline me. He was not hateful when it happened. He did not take his anger or aggression out on me, he did it to teach me a lesson, hit me only one time, and took care of me after it happened. I learned a lesson from it, and I know that it wasn't to attack me.

Perspective is very important. My mother is from the Fillipines and came to America in her mid twenties. Her style of dicipline was slightly different, and when I acted up her first reaction was to take her shoe off. If I was bad, she hit my leg with her shoe. My mother is barely 5' tall and weighs under 100 lbs, so in all honesty it didn't bother me at all because it never hurt. But even if it did, I wouldn't consider that abuse either. Her intention was to correct my action, and I did not feel neglected from it.

On the contrary, if everything else remained the same, yet I felt abused from either of their diciplinary techniques, it could probably be considered abuse, because now I'm becoming emotionally damaged and I don't hold the understanding of being taught a lesson, etc.

As cultures provide many different standards, I feel that the perspective and motive of the parent and child involved are the most important issues to examine.

Maria Spinella said...

I believe that every family has the right to follow, obey, and practice all of their cultural beliefs even when moving to the United States. They also should be able to discipline their children in any way they believe is appropriate or in any way that they have been exposed to in their culture before living in America. We do not have the right to tell parents the right and wrong ways of raising their own children. I also do believe that if a child is being harmed physically or neglected to the point that their life may be in any danger then it is imperative to remove the children and provide immediate attention and help.