Whatever your parenting style, you are walking a tightrope | Dr. Laila Alghalban


Saturday, April 11, 2020                     By: Dr. Laila Alghalban

Protective-Parents_2Are you a helicopter parent who hovers around kids, throwing a lifeline to them and sparing them all likely hardships and adversity? Do they feel that you are a panacea for all big hurdles? Do you keep cultivating with steely determination a protection shell in which they grow up and stay? Are you an authoritative parent holding your kids captive to your worldview and truisms? Could it be that you are a hands-off parent leading a relaxed parenting style? And do you prefer going for a track in between? Whatever your parenting style, you are definitely walking a tightrope between your convictions and dispositions on the one hand and the hysterically unprecedented challenges you face during parenthood journey, on the other.

What does it mean to be a parent?

When our kids grow up and become increasingly independent, we mistakenly think that we would be much better off. Having children is a great gift from our Generous Creator. No matter how old they are, there is always a deep feeling of fear in one’s stomach, causing unstoppable concern about this responsibility. I don’t think that parenting has never been that unbelievably difficult as it is now. Of course, parenting style varies from person to person and from nation to nation.

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Cultural diversity in parenting

The way parents in different societies and cultures talk about the qualities they want their children to have varies noticeably. In some countries, the ideal children should be clean, quiet, fitting the stereotype, emotionally balanced, physically active, etc. Other parenting cultures jostle to raise well-behaved children; it’s a top target. In further communities, hands -off parenting prevails. “What are schools for? ” people wonder. Children are left without help with learning.

Hands-on academic achievement

The American parenting style is invading the world, according to reports. But in the Far East which is home to the most hypercompetitive societies on the planet, super intensive parenting is becoming increasingly popular as well. Parents are deeply involved in children’s education; it is a fierce battle to get a job, with thousands of highly skilled and creative applicants for every job. This is an extremely stressful environment, leading many young men to sacrifice marriage for work, undergo a chain of cosmetic surgeries increase employability prospects, and endure various types of bullying and abuse.

Going viral

A couple of days ago, I came across an article on the American parenting style, known as intensive parenting, and how it has crossed the Atlantic Ocean to Europe and taken roots there. I thought to myself ” What is it?”. Simply put, intensive parenting requires that parents go the extra mile to help children hone useful skill; facilitating this constitutes what ideal parenting means. In the past, middle class parents were in the lead in embracing the idea. Gradually, intensive parenting went viral and found its way to all social classes and regions. Thus, in a hysterically competitive and sometimes unfair world, parents meet hurdles at the gate as inequality robs many people of basic rights and opportunities. The question, however, is: are children happy with intensive parenting? .

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The happiest students in the world

Scandinavian nations usually top happiness index. Education is less saddled with exams, pressure and anxiety. I thought that students there must be the happiest on earth, too. Unexpectedly, no. The happiest students are in Central America, where students build robust relations with teachers, a matter that enhances their self-confidence and speeds up learning and the cultivation of independent and happy versions of themselves. The U.S. and the U.K., paradoxically, occupy middle positions on the list.

Two typically Egyptian stories

In Egypt, for instance, people invest in their children like never before, including those who struggle to make ends meet. Children are given supplementary private tutoring. What matters is educational achievement. Education worldwide is still a big door to better opportunities. It’s no wonder that parents worldwide uncompromisingly dedicate more money, time and effort to childcare than ever. Let me offer two things mothers do within the intensive parenting style. The first describes how a young mom struggles to get kids ready to school, while the other situation has to do with the daily suffering of a mom of a Thanawyya ‘amma (high school) student.

Investing in the future

The silence of the place at dawn is shattered by the voice of the mom upstairs. ” Hey, wake up, it’s 5:30,” she says. ” Have a quick shower and get dressed.” Her pushy voice, the creaking and slamming of doors, the clicking of her shoes on the floor become part of our daily routine, soon after, you find the street clogged with children, moms, and school buses. An increasing number of young parents in the neighbourhood send their children to international schools, partly to invest in kids’ education and future and partly to pursue prestige and social mobility.

Hovering parent illustration

The daily fight

The mother keeps chasing and bombarding her son with requests to pray, tidy up his room, have meals on time and with family, among other things. “A messy place reflects a messy mind,” she says. “De-clutter this crap.” Her words fail to find a way to his heart and mind. That’s part of her daily fight to grab him out of a downward spiral that wastes his time and energy, goofing off on Facebook or YouTube.

We used to pave the way for our kids. Our life revolves around them and sacrifice our own peace and mental health for them. One would become so drained and unnecessarily on the brink of collapse. We put our children’s mental wellbeing at risk too and push them to depression and anxiety disorders. This is toxic and suffocating. It doesn’t reflect love as much as it reflects that we genuinely question their ability to face life storms and learn from mistakes

Never late to be a good parent

Let’s offer our children the chance to do their chores on their own. Let’s watch them from a distance and be always ready to help when necessary. Finally, it has become an increasingly popular tendency for parents to get parenting classes or counseling to help build more bridges to children and offer some balance while walking the tightrope of parenting. Let’s give it a shot.

Dr Laila Abdel Aal Alghalban, Professor of linguistics at the Faculty of Arts, Kafrelsheikh University

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