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I decided to do my research paper on a naturalistic observation, focusing on the topic of parent-child relationships and parental discipline styles, and how this influences their development in adolescence. I observed my 12-year-old brother Joseph, and 13-year-old cousin Mariah, who are 5 months apart.
While observing both children together, and since they are my family, I already had a sense of the difference in parenting, discipline styles and attachments forming, and how these all work bidirectionally in their development and behavior as they grow up.
The quality of the parenting is clearly important for children for example, there are 4 different types of parenting styles: Authoritarian, Authoritative, Neglectful and Indulgent, authoritative being the best type.
Mariah’s mothers parenting style is neglectful which is when the parent is very uninvolved in the child’s life, and her discipline style is power assertion which is when a parent attempts to gain control over the child or the child’s resources and it include spanking, threatening, or removing privileges.
(Santrock 371) Children of neglectful parent’s tend to have low self-esteem, are immature and may be alienated from the family. (Santrock 401) One example of how I noticed Mariah being alienated was when I began observing them, I noticed that she felt a little weird about coming over during the weekends because she’s so used to being alone. Since her mother also is very distant from the family, she also unintentionally keeps her away as well. Mariah also shows signs of low self-esteem which is usually evaluated through scholastic competence, social acceptance, physical appearance, and behavioral conduct.
(Santrock 322) She told me that she wishes she was as pretty as me with light skin and straight hair and not dark skin with kinky hair, which broke my heart because young black girls grow up straightening their hair and having a love and hate relationship with their skin color. Since she doesn’t have a support system there’s no one she can confide in to remind her that she’s beautiful the way she is.
Having no support system and no guidance at such a young age can really stunt her growth, especially someone with intellectual problems who isn’t receiving the proper treatment. Mariah didn’t start going to therapy until recently but since before and even when I was observing her, I noticed how she threw temper tantrums when she didn’t get what she wanted. For example, one day she wanted to go to the corner store and asked her mother for money before she left from dropping her off, but her mother didn’t have to give her, nonetheless she insisted and started crying and eventually she grabbed on to her mother’s purse and didn’t let go until her mother gave her the money. From my observations, she shows signs of antisocial behavior like conduct disorder, but she still hasn’t been diagnosed. Children with conduct disorder show a wide range of rule-violating behavior, from swearing and temper tantrums to severe vandalism, theft, and assault. (Santrock 378) Mariah’s actions could’ve been caused because of her intellectual disability and her mother’s parenting style. Having neglectful parents who punish their child by yelling, screaming, or spanking, present their children with out-of-control models for handling stressful situations and children may imitate this aggressive, out of control behavior. Punishments can also instill fear, rage or avoidance and can become abusive. (Santrock 403)
Joseph’s parents parenting style are authoritative and their discipline style is induction. Induction is a discipline technique in which a parent uses reasoning and explains how the child’s action are likely to affect other people. (Santrock 371) Authoritative parenting encourages children to independent but still places limits and controls on their actions which is how his mother is, only because he’s a boy because she was never like that with me. Children with authoritative parents tend to maintain friendly relations with peers, cooperate with adults and cope well with stress. (Santrock 401) One example of how I noticed this in Jose was once when I was observing him our landlord called his number to speak to our mom because he couldn’t get in contact with anyone else and it was because of money that was due which no 12-year-old should hear. I was more stressed about this than him, he was just asking me questions about it since he is very mature, he then made a joke which is a healthy way to deal with something like that.
There are many factors that influence the development in children and gender plays a big part. Since Joseph is my brother, I have noticed the difference in parenting styles in my mother with me and him. For example, she gives Joseph a lot freedom and does not give him any chores. However, when I was younger, I always had to do chores and did not have any freedom. Although this may be because of her culture and her mirroring the way she was raised, and it can also be the age difference of when she had us.
Parents and their parenting styles, discipline styles, the attachments formed, and peers are all are extremely important and work bidirectionally in children’s lives and their development. You can’t force a child to be how you want them to be, but you can guide them and emotionally support them as they grown up. Educating yourself on the ways to be a good parent, in other words “goodness of fit” which is the quality of parent dealing with their child. This plays a big role in a child’s life and the role models they’ll have as they grow up which will be the foundation for when they form their own identity.
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