To start out, I guess I need to preface this post. I am currently attending university as a Child Development major. This last semester I have been taking a parenting class and one of my assignments was to do a research project on a parenting topic of my choice, and I decided to compile my findings on my blog. This may seem a bit random, especially compared to my other content, but I can assure you that this topic is very near and dear to my heart.
Before I get into this, I would like to say that I have immensely enjoyed this class! (literally ask anyone in my family, I talk about it constantly!) I have learned not only how to interact with children but adults, also! I wish that parenting classes were required before you have babies (like taking a drivers-ed class, before getting your license). I truly think everyone can benefit from familiarizing themselves more with how to love unconditionally and care for one another, which is essentially what parenting is. Now, I am FAR from an expert, but if you want more information about what I learned, or some good parenting books to read, comment below and I will give you my suggestions!
The topic I chose to research is, “parenting and how it affects and influences our children’s self-esteem”. Some people may be wondering why parenting relates to our children’s self esteem, at all. Shouldn’t the child be the only one influencing their own view of themselves? That seems reasonable, right? Unfortunately, that claim is completely unfounded. Although children can do a few things themselves (physically, academically, etc.) that may slightly improve their self-esteem, the main influencers are their parents.
I urge parents to not take this responsibility lightly. I feel like so many parents constantly worry and pray for their children to have high self-esteem, confidence in their own abilities, and a strong sense of self worth. But then in turn, do very little to help instill those ideals. They just wish it to happen, and hope that their children will magically gain it for themselves.
The first thing that I feel is important to note, is that children observe you all the time. They see and hear, what you do and say. You are always “on stage”. If you have poor self-esteem yourself, your children can sense that. You are their number one role model in life, and so for the sake of your children, and future generations to come, do what you can to improve your own self-esteem. Kind of a scary thought– but you are not the only one affected by your poor views of yourself.
So besides observation of their parent’s own self-esteem, another major factor that influences children’s self-esteem, is the parenting style that they were raised with. I will now take a moment to review each style.
Note: Some experts have different names for the parenting styles, but they generally follow the same outlines.
Authoritarian (high expectations/low affection):
Authoritarian parents are extremely strict. They have strong guidelines and rules set out for their children and they enforce those rules to the letter. They have high expectations for their children but show very little affection towards them. They are usually involved, but only to make sure that they are doing what they have told them to do, and to make sure they are meeting or exceeding their high expectations. Their love is defined as being conditional– meaning that the children will feel that they are not automatically worthy of their parent’s love and attention, but that they have to earn it in some way.
Permissive (low expectations/ high affection):
Permissive parents have very few rules– if any. They demonstrate high levels of affection, in the sense that if their child asks for something, they will give them what they want. If they want to go on that crazy spring break trip, go for it. If they stay out past curfew (if they even have one) they are not punished. Their relationship is that of a friend, not a parent. They are usually involved, but there is little substance, to that involvement. They provide no structure, which can be very hard on their children.
Uninvolved (low expectations/ low affection):
Uninvolved parents are not interested in the lives of their children. They don’t set or enforce rules. They aren’t involved and don’t show any affection. They don’t want to be bothered and are basically out of the picture.
Authoritative (high expectations/ high affection):
Authoritative parents are the ones to be! They are involved in their children’s lives and genuinely care for their wellbeing and will always be there for them. They have high expectations for their children that are clear and obtainable, but they will not withhold their love or attention, if their kids fall short of those expectations. Their children feel loved, cared for, and safe. Home is a safe haven for them, and in turn are more willing to confide in their parents with any and all issues.
Now that we’ve established the different kinds of parenting styles, lets dive into how they affect their children’s self-esteem. In all of the scholarly journals pertaining to this subject, that I reviewed, the results were conclusive and unanimous. Children’s self-esteem is highly linked to the way that they have been reared. Positive self-worth came from those that had Authoritative parents, and that self-worth helped them excel in many areas of their lives. Conversely, children with Authoritarian, Uninvolved, or Permissive parents, were found to have low self-esteems, suffered from more mental health problems and were more likely to get involved in drugs and alcohol.
One of the scholarly journals I read, reemphasized this precise point, and the importance of our children having high self-esteems, it stated, “This is important knowledge as according to the literature, [because] a high level of self- esteem, could be a buffer against such things as depression [and] should not be ignored. Educational failure, drug and alcohol abuse, vulnerability to peer pressure, eating disorders and possible suicide [can result from low self-esteem]. Therefore, research in this area is very important, and any knowledge that may contribute to the understanding of how low self-esteem can be avoided should not be ignored.” (Wolff pg. 55)
I know so many parents who feel helpless in how they can help their children grow up with good values and morals, and have them love themselves and others. With everything going on in the world this may seem like a daunting task. But as long as you show your children that you expect great things from them, and then love them unconditionally, and in such a way that allows them to do just that, then everything will come together. They will be able to have the tools to cope with hardships and struggles, and know that it doesn’t define who they are as a person. They will be able to say no to things that could be harmful to them. They will have an example to look to, of how to see themselves in a healthy and realistic way. And most of all, they will have a clear knowledge of the fact that they are of worth, and that they are truly loved, simply because they are someone’s child.
I urge all of you to keep this in mind, whether or not you have kids of your own, are expecting, or if you are simply a friend to children. The way you treat yourself and others is a big deal! Lets spread some love around and help build those around us. And if you are struggling with your own self-esteem, do what you can to see yourself through a different more accurate lens. Surround yourself with people who love you and see you for who you truly are. And always remember, you are worth it all.
DeHart, T., Pelham, B., & Tennen, H. (n.d.). What lies beneath: Parenting style and implicit self-esteem. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022103105000508
Gecas, V., & Schwalbe, M. (1986). Parental Behavior and Adolescent Self-Esteem. Journal of Marriage and Family,48(1), 37-46. doi:10.2307/352226
Martínez, I., & García, J. (2007). Impact of Parenting Styles on Adolescents’ Self-Esteem and Internalization of Values in Spain. The Spanish Journal of Psychology,10(2), 338-348. doi:10.1017/S1138741600006600
Milevsky, A., Schlechter, M., Netter, S. et al. J Child Fam Stud (2007) 16: 39. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-006-9066-5
Rudy, D., & Grusec, J. E. (2006). Authoritarian parenting in individualist and collectivist groups: Associations with maternal emotion and cognition and children’s self-esteem. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(1), 68-78.
Wolff, J. (2000). Self-esteem: The influence of parenting styles. Retrieved from https://ro.ecu.edu.au/theses/1535
Zakeri, H., & Maryam, M. (n.d.). Parenting Styles and Self-esteem. Retrieved from https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/82511596.pdf
(Word Press doesn’t allow hanging indentation)