We look with wonder and happiness when a child first learns to walk by falling many times and learns to talk without any fear or shyness of making mistakes. The child only learns because he is not afraid of being reprimanded for the mistake he makes. As we grow older we forget that we only learn from our mistakes and experiences, don’t we? We forget that unlearning and making mistakes is so fundamental to our learning process.
But, a strict parent typically makes unempathetic rules. Rules made by a strict parent simply have to be followed. No objections. No explanation. No reason. And if the child disobeys the rules…unfair punishment. Interestingly, when children have a lot of strict rules placed upon them, they find a quick alternative to avoid punishment – lying. According to The Youth Centre in Canada, children raised in strict households become secretive to avoid consequences. Children, at the end of the day, are not always able to solve their own problems and need parental advice. However, in this case, the child stops confiding in his parent as he thinks he will be punished for his actions. Over a period of time the child develops the habit of lying and may often do it subconsciously. The bond between parent and child becomes weak due to lack of communication. And the strict parent is totally unaware of it all!
If you look closely you will see that a strict-parent and child relationship is similar to that of bully and victim. A parent is the child’s role model. If the parent yells the child yells, if a parent uses force the child uses force. And the child begins to learn that fear means power. The child will use what he has learnt and use this with his friends and end up being a bully. This will again become a problem for his parents. You see the vicious cycle here?
Self-discipline and responsibility form the base of a well-rounded individual. There is no internal tool more valuable than self-disciplining. However, the child has to internalize the love of limits and understand why they are important.
But, Strict parents deprive children the opportunity to internalize self-discipline and responsibility. Strict parents set too many rules to follow…the child begins to detest control. None of us like to be controlled do we? And this causes the child to reject limits that are not empathetic.
Strict parents do not allow their child to make decisions on their own. This can be rather dangerous…The child will not be able to think on his own and thus he may be easily led by others. The child begins to think the person in authority in a relationship should be obeyed without question. Hasn’t the strict parent crippled the child mentally, physiologically and emotionally? He will need crutches stand for the rest of his life.
A 2011 PEW Research survey found that “40% of 18- to 24-year-olds currently live with their parents, and the vast majority of them say they did not move back home because of economic conditions. Young adults, who move out then back in with their parents, have led people to refer to them as the Boomerang Generation. I believe this is due to the lack of responsibility given to children by their parents. The children do not know how to live on their own because they have never been taught.
Strict parenting undermines the relation between the parent and child. Most importantly it creates individuals who do not understand the importance of self-discipline, who do not question authority and stand up for themselves, and it creates individuals who believe force is the only route to get one’s way.
If we look at the animal kingdom, a lioness lets her cubs explore the surrounding and themselves. However, she sets certain empathetic boundaries and restrictions. She decides the age appropriate freedom. In the same way Children thrive on Limits and Age-appropriate expectations, but only if they’re set with empathy.
As Kahlil Gibran says in his poem “On Children”…
You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable
This is the debate I spoke in Wisdom World School on 30th July, 2015 in the ‘Inter-House Debate Competition’.