Stakeholders differ over new study on parenting strategy

A parent scolding her child child PHOTO SOURCE: INTERNET FILE

A new study by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States, has shown that harsh parenting negatively affects children’s relationship with their friends, lowers academic achievement and made them engage in sexual activity at a younger age.

The study posited that children under strict guidance are more likely to take risks, steal and even have sex at a young age. The researchers therefore while hoping their findings will help parents find alternative to “tough love,” urged parents to have a rethink on their parenting strategy.

The scholars according to MailOnline publication studied 1,500 students, who they followed over nine years, beginning at age 13. The students on their part spoke to researchers about their parents’ use of physical and verbal aggression. They also spoke of their own interaction with peers, delinquency and sexual behaviour.

The results showed that “students who were parented harshly were more likely to spend time with their peer group rather than following their parents’ rules. This meant they would take risks, which resulted in early sexual behaviour in girls and more delinquency (such as hitting and stealing) in boys. As a result of this sort of behaviour, they did less well at school.”

Rochelle Hentges, a post-doctoral fellow who led the study said, “We believe our study is the first to use children’s life histories as a framework to examine how parenting affects children’s educational outcomes via relationships with peers, sexual behaviour, and delinquency.”

He further stated that strict parenting was related to lower attainment, because being told off made children focus on their current behaviour at the expense of thinking out what they would like to achieve in the future. “Youth whose needs aren’t met by their primary attachment figures may seek validation from peers,’ Dr Hentges added.

But some stakeholders who shared their view with The Guardian on the issue argued that there is no orthodox method of parenting since character is formed and shaped by one’s gene and environment, among others.

A parent and an educationist, Mrs. Obianuju Obi-Okafor, said there is no proven method that allows children to do the right thing or understand better. “This is because every child has a unique learning style which is partly inherited from both parents and partly influenced by the environment. However, having good knowledge of your child deepens your understanding of the child and enables you to offer him/her appropriate advice to advance his/her chances in life.

“So being too firm with your children does not determine whether they will be well behaved or not. It is the value you inculcate in them that matters. It is important to tell your children why telling the truth at all times is a sign of moral rectitude, teach them moral values which are cherished societal norms that govern a person’s life.” she said.

In the same vein, the Archdeacon of Festac Archdeaconry, Church of Pentecost, Omotunde Owoyele said being strict to children has proved to be a better way of parenting especially when communication or dialogue is involved.

“If you are too firm on your child, you must endeavour to communicate the essence of your actions. The definition you gave to strictness and the way people are brought up determine the nature and life style the person will live. Parents should allow a bit of freedom but the freedom should be disciplined.

But a teacher at Fastrack College, Festac Town, Mr. Dosunmu Oluwafunso, maintained that being too strict with a child has psychological implications, which could affect a child’s social behaviour.

He said, “Forcing your child to learn in a hard or harsh way is totally wrong because I believe that fear doesn’t make a child to perform excellent in school rather it will make the child to learn slowly.

Oluwafunso said though proper parenting is tough and challenging, it is the responsibility of parents to guide and guard their wards and equip them with good traits that will help them become useful and productive individuals in the society.


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