Parenting styles are a sensitive subject, and it also happens to be one of the areas where the greatest difference between generations can be observed.
In fact, whether they talk to their children about it or not, grandparents are incredibly concerned with the way that their children are raising their grandchildren. Those changes in parenting techniques have led many seniors to become concerned that the next generation will be of lesser moral character.
Research shows that around four in five grandparents believe that:
- There is a negative impact on the culture of “praise and reward culture” – the idea that children should be celebrated for “having a go” rather than being successful.
- There are eroding values and manners in society that are being manifested through the behavior of the younger generation and.
- The future happiness of children and society as a whole is at stake.
In addition to these concerns, a full three in five grandparents believe that parenting styles are now inferior to their generation, 79 percent of seniors believe modern parents are overprotective, and around 60 percent admit to openly disagreeing with their children and in-laws about parenting styles.
The truth of the matter
In a TV interview, the psychotherapist Dr. Karen Phillip believes that what seniors are experiencing is not just perception – parenting styles have indeed changed. “It is clear that the seniors of contemporary Australia have identified a significant and paramount shift in parenting styles when compared to when they were raising children,” Dr. Phillip said.
“This can often challenge the role that seniors have grown up with given many grandparents today feel they have a responsibility to help parent their grandchildren.”
Grandparents are certainly spending more time assisting with childcare – 58 percent of seniors agree that their own parents played a smaller grandparent role than they are. The good news is that this is a good all-round. In addition to giving children authority figures that are willing to be a bit more strict, and allowing parents to save on the cost of health care, looking after grandchildren is good for the seniors too, with 93 percent reporting that they have experienced positive health outcomes from spending time with the grandkids.
As Dr. Phillip mentioned: “It is hoped that the strong concerns grandparents have for the future happiness and resilience of the next generation could be mitigated by the support and wisdom they provide their grandchildren, which can help to nurture them into happy, healthy adults.”
How has parenting styles changed?
Some of the major changes to parenting styles in recent years have included:
1) More mothers work, more fathers help in the house
Traditional families would have the mother stay at home, and the father, as the “breadwinner” would rarely help with the nuances of housework and parenting. These days, dual-income families are far more common, and parents need to be careful to make sure that children aren’t being overlooked in the bustle of the day-to-day.
2) Mental health has become much more of a concern.
In recent decades alone, the rate in which children and teenagers are diagnosed with depression and other mental disorders has increased significantly. This isn’t a sign that it’s becoming more frequent, but rather parents are more aware of the warning signs and more willing to take action. For seniors, this desire to look after a child’s mental health is often interpreted as indulging in the “praise and reward” culture.
3) There are more devices that children use.
Society’s fear that television (and other screens) would damage children (they used to call it the “idiot box,” after all) has greatly dissipated, and now parents use phones, laptops, televisions, and other screens to entertain children. Children, meanwhile, are allowed to become much more tech-savvy than ever, with many even having their music classes online through a screen.
The big question is whether these changes in parenting styles really are going to result in a lowering of cultural standards. Certainly, the changes are going to produce new generations with different ideas and goals than in the past, but parenting needs to adapt to modern environments and, with the grandparents providing greater support than ever before, children of this generation have a unique opportunity to learn a lot from many perspectives.