Parent – Child Relationship
Parent-Child relation is a distinctive and imperishable bond that is central to the psycho-social development of every individual. This relationship is characterized by warmth, affection, and responsive understanding. Parent-Child relation is different from any other relationship in a way as it nurtures the physical, emotional, and social development of a new-born.
The importance of parent-child relation finds its basis in the interaction between parent and child. This interaction maneuvers the cognitive, emotive, and behavioral functioning of an individual. Your experiences in life make you form your belief system but according to researchers, parental influence plays a significant role in framing you like what you become and how you interact with this world.
Parent-child relationships can be seen from either a biological perspective that includes sharing of genetic material or from an adoption perspective that involves legal agreement. In any type of parent-child relation whether biological or adoptive, the stability of the parents’ marriage, inter-parental conflict, parents’ experiences, and behaviors, attachment, and parenting style become important in framing the overall personality of an individual.
Stages of Parent-Child Relation:
As the child is born, both the parent and the child try to build an understanding of each other’s behavior and emotion. Babies expect their parents to care for them and parents respond in anticipation of their child’s needs. The initial attachment between parent and child is based on the meeting of needs, conformity of nurturance, sense of security, and empathetic bond. As the child grows, they develop emotions to distinguish a caregiver and strangers.
Early Childhood or Toddler:
Between the age 1-3 years, as the child develops their verbal, cognitive, and motor abilities, parents try to shape up their social and moral skills. From being a nurturer, now parents imbibe the role of a teacher where they prepare their young ones to assimilate in the family and other social groups. Apart from socialization, parents also tend to inculcate in their child the behavior of being independent in terms of weaning, toilet practices, and wearing clothes. Child’s newfound independence makes them assertive with a sense of autonomy. Generally, it is observed that if a child does not follow set guidelines by their parents, parents get furious and irritated.
Middle and Later Childhood:
With the entry of children in pre-school and later in elementary school, there is the natural broadening of their psychosocial and cognitive abilities. As the social world of the child expands, interaction with people goes beyond their home environment. They are likely to develop a sense of independence from their parents. Based on social learning, children in middle and later childhood develop their emotions and find a sense of belonging with their friends and peer group. Being a guide, parents become responsive towards their child’s social needs and steer their interpersonal conduct.
All the cognitive, emotional, and social knowledge since infancy gets accumulated and manifested in adolescence. Biological transformation due to puberty and other learned skills ignite their urge for more independence and challenge the parents’ authority. Adolescents start developing an interest in peer relationships and exploring different aspects of life. They start to look at themselves from the societal perspective, thinking about themselves, their own physical appearance, socio-economic status, and career path. Their closeness with parents decreases. Disagreements between parent and child are common in this phase of the child-parent relationship. Reasons are ego, self-image, independence, etc
Adulthood starts from the age of 18. This is a phase of going for graduation, exploring career options, looking for a job, defining goals, and becoming successful. Parents start to recognize and respect their child’s adult now. While sharing the wisdom and values of their life, parents can either support the choices of their adult child or exert their choices by criticizing their child’s. As adulthood progresses career advancement, marriage, starting a family embrace the life of an adult. As the adult child embarks on the journey of marriage and starting their own family, engagement with parents decreases. Parents are likely to develop a sense of isolation and often feel a need for support from their children for physical and mental health wellbeing.
Parent-child relationship is a complex yet inevitable part of an individual’s life. Discussions and disagreements are a common part of parent child relationships. Any wound in this relation can run deep affecting the lives of both parent and the child. The dynamics of parent-child relations need to be understood by parents and the child to foster a healthy relationship. Good communication, respect, faith, and supporting each other is important for healthy and life long parent child relationships.
Psychologists as mental health care providers play a major role in understanding biological, behavioural and social factors that influence mental health and physical wellbeing. Dr. (Prof) R K Suri, Senior Clinical Psychologist at Psychowellness Center, is a trained professional clinical psychologist, having more than 36 years of experience in all kinds of mental health issues and related therapeutic interventions.
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