Parenting Case Study

Since the last 6 months, I am observing two sets of families very closely. The reason for doing so? Well, they are our friends and they both have a lot of similarities.

Parenting Case Study

Both are proud parents of 5-year-old daughters. Both set of parents dote on their daughters, in fact the daughters are the ‘large’ apples of their eyes. Both have exactly the same parenting style.

And what’s their parenting style? To put it simply, in their respective families, the child is the boss.

Yes, it is true. Both the parents do exactly what the child tells them to do.

On different occasions that we have met them at our place or theirs (separately), the girls never allowed us to talk uninterrupted even for 2 minutes. They’d come in with one demand after the other and the parents gladly gave in to whatever their child wanted at that point of time. The best was that the parents did it with a smile, all the time. Seeing them behave this way, irked us, but not them.

Ok, a bit of background… In family A, the daughter was born after 14 years of marriage. Their mantra of parenting, “Nobody will say anything to the child, let her do whatever she wants”.

Family B went through a turbulent time for a year or so, due to illness of a maternal grandparent and she is no more now. So, according to them their child is the only bright spot in their lives. They too believe in the same mantra, “She is just a child, let her do whatever she wants”.

So, because of this parenting style, how do these little kids behave?

Well, they have no manners, are rude, like to boss around with other kids (and adults too), talk a lot (are too mature in language), hit or spit on people, if anybody (other than the family) does not agree to their demands, they can’t take a ‘No’ for an answer… There are no rules or guidelines for these kids.

Their eating habits… they just don’t eat anything other than a chapati. And that too without any dal or vegetable. The chapati has to be fed by either of the parents while the child jumps up and down the sofa or simply runs around. In family A, the parents feed her milk with a spoon. (That’s because she hates milk and the parents believe that “Milk is very important”. So, if their 5-year-old daughter has 10 spoons of milk in a day, it is a celebration in the family).

On every trip with the kid in the market, a toy is bought, simply because the child asked for it. The result, there are hundreds of toys lying around and all battered and uncared for.

Incidentally, both the girls are good at studies.

So, what do you think of this parenting style? How will this impact the child’s growth and development, both physical as well as emotional? Will the child be able to ‘behave’ well and change her habits in the later years? When will the child learn about value systems? Is this parenting style good for the child?

A former pharmaceutical professional-turned-soft-skills facilitator for corporates and mother of  a 11 year old, Shilpa Garg blogs at http://shilpaagarg.blogspot.in/

  • I am unable to say anything. I simply shudder at the thought of their future, and also the parent’s future. I am sorry, but I can’t understand how you can entertain such people. Since you are not allowed to speak even for a minute with the parents without the child’s interference, I mean what is the point in being friends with them. They have their own logic in bringing up their kids like this, and no body can change them. Please understand I don’t mean to offend you.
    I have come across one/two such families and I have always kept them at a distance.

    • When I see these kids, these thoughts are on my mind too. Kids who have never heard the word NO, how will they handle life later on!! They are so used to getting things done their way! I know what you mean, Rama, but they are husband’s colleagues, so meetings are often and can’t avoid. 😐

  • Hi Shilpa,

    A very good post indeed, extremely thought provoking. In parenting, extreme of anything is BAD. If you are over strict and do not give in to any demand of the child it’s not going to benefit the child… if you are raising them as ‘precious’ gems, like you have mentioned in your post, you won’t be fair to your children.

    What we can do as parents is strike the perfect balance. Which (in 2 years of parenting) I have understood does not come easy…

    • Thanks Falak. Absolutely, as parents we have to strike a right balance between protection and control, which is indeed a tricky balance. Parents who don’t find that balance are much more likely to face behavioral problems in their children.

  • Hi Shilpa… your posts kind of reminds me one of our neighbors. I wonder at what stage the parents will be compelled to say ” NO”.

    • Exactly, my thoughts too, Prasad. They say that saying no teaches the child some very important lessons like how to deal with disappointment, how to argue, how to prioritize… Sadly these children are missing out on such important and vital life learnings!

  • And so many of such families we see around us these days. Such crazy parents. All that they are doing is harming their children who will be misfit to handle life’s challenges when they are grown up :(.

    • Well said, Rachna. The kids will just find it so difficult to adjust later! The kids will have respect of any authority and would have little concern for anyone but themselves! Its sad that educated parents can’t foresee these behavioral issues of their kids!

  • Ritu Dikshit

    Dear Shilpa,
    Looks like, this syndrome is widespread and affecting everybody. I am interacting with parents of 3 yr old children on a regular basis and am surprised to see how they treat their children. It is all hanky dory when the child is in the home environment but as soon as the child is exposed to the outside environment he/ she is totally lost, as their is no audience to applaud their actions, no one to “oh and ah “at the tantrums.
    They feel dejected and helpless.
    Emotionally these child will grow up with a self concept that is far from reality .
    I wouldn’t like to comment on the food habits and physical growth of these children.
    Thank you for picking up wonderful parenting topics,
    Ritu.

    • Thanks a lot, Ritu for sharing your experiences from your school. What you have shared about such children outside their home is so sad but so true. I wonder how parents are not able to understand that what they are doing to their kids is not love but so much of damage and harm!!

  • Anilkumar Kurup

    Stupidity and foolery. In fact the parents are being unkind to the child’s adult life.

    • True Anil, kids who understand that they can’t always have their way will be more likely to be successful in school, relationships, and their careers… sadly their parents are depriving them of this major learning of life!

  • Roshni

    I guess I concur with most of the comments that the parents are doing a lot of disservice to their kids by giving into their demands…if they never have a chance of experiencing disappointment or challenges in their life now, how will they deal with them later? I would consider bringing the topic up in a gentle manner to either, but since they are *your* friends, you would know best whether this would really work or not!

    • I did try bringing this up with both the set of parents as I was aghast to see their and their kids behaviour and the response was “Nobody will say anything to the child, let her do whatever she wants”. “She is just a child, let her do whatever she wants”. So, that seals the discussions.

  • There are innumerable families like the ones you have described.The problem is ,in absolute terms,patents have very little time for their children .In families,where both the patents are professionals,such irresponsible behaviour of children is natural.
    Parents are reducing the size of their families without really working hard in bringing up the only( perhaps) child they have.
    Internet is OK,but,children can’t be g brought up via Internet .
    Parents must get real and rewind the situation when they were being brought up by their parents

    • Agree completely, Mr Chowla. Bringing up kids now-a-days is challenging and kids can be quite a handful too, it is tempting for the parents to give in to keep the peace. But a good parent has to be the bad guy sometimes.
      With such big changes in the lifestyles today, parents want to give everything what they didnt had/get during their childhood, nobody wants to revisit their times with their parents!

  • The problem is, children in such families develop a very flowery vision of our imperfect world and will want the same pampering/comforts throughout their lives. Of course, it’s not true in all the cases and many children would adapt to the demands of the real world, rather well, later on. But the chances that some of them would become bitter @ their life and make their own lives miserable, is also high. It’s a gamble. And a risky one at that.

    Destination Infinity

    • You are right, DI. Some might adapt themselves to the reality of the world sooner and easily but there might be a good number who would fail miserably in doing so!

  • Aashima

    Parental control as I see it- is not being a control freak but is more like having a firm hand in giving direction/guidance/push/nudge/ etc whatever is required so the child understands the right from wrong, good from bad and understands the behavioral values.
    So I know of this fellow, around 34 years old, a single child, was pampered no end and was let to have his way as a kid, since the parents had him after 14 years of prayers, visits to hospitals,gurus,temples and mannats.
    Since as a kid he could never hear that “no”, the same thing continues till date. So much so that the fellow has no qualms in hitting his parents to have them say yes to his demands. Sad and unfortunate, but true.

    Food for thought for the parents!

    • You are bang on, Aashima. A balance approach to guide the child in the right direction is what is needed.
      It is indeed shocking to know about this person. They say, habits once formed in the childhood last a lifetime and are hard to let go of. I wonder what impact it would have on this person’s child’s psyche, seeing his/her father hitting his own parents. What lessons would he be learning? Truly saddening!

  • Discipline is a difficult task for parents. Too much or too little is bad. The balancing act is an art not everyone masters. 🙂

  • So true about such parenting shilpa, where i find many parents doing this. I live in a society where i find parents even shifting schools of their wards because the teacher at school had put their child in place. Parents don’t realize that such indulgences will finally boomerang on them. These are the kind of kids who later commit suicide.

    I even know of a lady in my extended family who was of my aunt’s age and later became my aunt’s SIL. She was pampered to no end. She had a huge collection of all jewels, sarees and she got whatever she wanted. And when she was of marriegable age she wanted to marry an indian spinner ace. her father even approached him but he refused and so she remains a spinster till today at age 60. she even tried suicide many times.

    Sorry for the rather long comment. but had to illustrate my reasoning:)

    • Thanks a lot, Asha for sharing your views and experiences with this permissive kind of parenting! True, kids who are used to getting everything that they want sure find it difficult to come to terms with the challenges of life, later on! Hope parents realize their error in parenting and rectify before it is too late!

  • Hello Shilpa, A nice post. We tend to see this a lot now-a-days. Sad but true. And I will definitely not blame the children. They are just like clay.. We mould them and that is what they finally become….

    • HI Shail! Certainly, the kids are not at fault, but the parents surely are! Children learn what they live…

  • It is so important to say ‘NO’ to kids at times although it is quite difficult. And you know it all starts very early – my 19 month old has already got a hang of taste of chocolate ( credit goes to affection showering relatives!!), and she would sometimes glued to the refrigerator door saying ‘Chokee chokee’ . I allow her to have a bit once in 2-3 days, rest of the times I just ignore her tantrums , roll on floor etc with a big NO along with constantly telling her that she can have it only after few days. Now, few of elder relatives thinks me as ‘monster mom’ and insist i give her – ‘a small bite won’t effect much!’ is their logic.
    Also, having a balance between discipline & leniency is also necessary.

    • Agree Nibedita! It is so easy to give in to the demands of the child (to get that peace) and so difficult to say ‘No’. But that ‘No’ is needed too. This ‘No’ now will help them handle life’s situations better as they grow up. And this ‘No’ has to be taught at an early age. Of course, we should be saying ‘No’ in an appropriate manner, because they say that it is not important what you say, but how you say it!

  • To me, Shilpa this parenting style doesnt look very healthy to me. In my opinion there has to be a certain amount of discipline and restriction in the way kids are raised.

    I’m not saying that we should be overtly strict with our kids. Nor do we need to be overtly indulgent to the point of spoiling them. We need to learn to strike a balance and teach our kids the same.

    With Namnam, yes I pamper her, there are days when I give in to her whims but she is also well aware that any kind of misbehavior or tantrums will not be entertained either. I believe its important for us parents to understand the right balance between discipline and permissiveness.

    • Thanks for sharing your views, Deeps. True, there has to be a right balance of discipline and being supportive. While our children should be guided by certain rules and guidelines, a good amount of nurturing and support is there for the child too.