As of 2014, the prevalence of traditional nuclear families, which included a mother, a father, and their children, has drastically reduced. Today, nearly 30% of all American households are single-parent families, while families with same-sex parents are also on the rise.
Nuclear families have a structure consisting of two parents and their children, i.e., immediate family. This system is very different from a joint family, where non-immediate family members, such as uncles, aunts, grandparents, etc., may be included. It is a long-held belief that, a nuclear family is the ideal family structure. However, as with anything, this system has its own advantages as well as disadvantages.
The advantages of living in a nuclear family include higher chances of financial stability, consistency in the standards of upbringing of children, and strong bonds between all members of the family. While all this can be beneficial to the child’s growth, there is a chance that poor parenting can drastically affect the kids.
Since the children of a nuclear family are completely dependent on their parents for emotional and material support, the role of the parents is very important, especially in their formative years. They must offer secure relationships with their children, and be good role models in regards to both, mental and physical health.
If the level of love and conflict between the parents is healthy, and the couple displays satisfaction and respect towards each other and their roles at home, the children grow up to become well-adjusted to handle their adult lives. However, consistently performing well at these roles has its own challenges for most nuclear family parents.
- Autonomous Parental Styles: Parents may style their parental behavior on letting their children make the rules. In these cases, the kids might become rebellious and difficult to handle. Such children usually grow up to be sociable, but also assertive and aggressive. This is not a bad thing overall, but can lead to mental stress in the parents.
- Rejective Parental Styles: Most nuclear home have both the parents working, which means that, they are often tired after returning home. Unable to provide their children with enough attention, the child may feel left out and resentful. Such parenting can lead to the child becoming hostile towards others.
- Restrictive Parenting Styles: In their bid to make their children well-behaved, some parents may become overly strict. The smallest mistakes are punished, and children might feel afraid of their parents. In these cases, the children often do become well-behaved. However, they also become overly dependent on their parents to make any decisions for own their lives.
- Financial Dependence: Apart from depending on the parents for emotional bonds, children might also feel stressed if financial troubles exist, because unlike a joint family, there is no one else to fall back on.
- Isolation: Children get lesser chances of interacting with extended family members. This can result in poor communication skills, and a loss of traditions in the new generation, which is very important to keep the child grounded.
- Less Resilience: If the parents are unable to handle themselves well in emergency situations, this can adversely affect the kids, and they too can acquire various fears due to a poor support structure.
Despite these problems, there are a few research-based tips to make sure that you raise happy, well-adjusted children.
- Understanding the Child: Many parents simply look at different families around them, and assume that they know the best ways to raise their own kids. However, the fact is that, each child is different, and a parenting style which is suitable for one child may not be suitable for another. Therefore, tailoring the methods of parenting according to the child’s personality can reduce anxiety in the family. For example, children who have trouble handling their emotions might need more attention, while well-adjusted kids might be adversely affected with excessive monitoring.
- Joking Around: Research has shown that, when parents joke and play act with young children, it increases the child’s creative skills. Such children are also able to manage relations and stress much better. So, lighten up and become the joker in your home; your kids will thank you after.
- Stop Searching for Perfection: It is very important that parents stop looking for perfection in their child or in themselves. Such thinking only increases stress and decreases confidence. It is important to try to ignore the pressure, so that you and your child can live a happier and relaxed life.
- Positive Attitudes: It is a well-known fact that, parents who express negativity constantly, or handle children roughly, end up with overly aggressive or reclusive kids, which increases as they grow up. So, if you seem to find too much anger in the house, break free of these habits. It will reduce the chances of major social problems in the long run.
- Maintaining Autonomy: Children who talk back to their parents can often get irritating. However, research suggests that, kids who are rebellious have a stronger resistance towards peer pressure outside their homes. So, instead of trying to stamp out this behavior completely by being strict, keep it under control by being rational and giving them your support. This will give the kids the confidence to stand up for themselves in the future.
- Keep Away from Guilt: Parents might find that they are not giving enough their time to their kids. This can lead to guilt. However, it is important that you don’t let these emotions control you. Being compassionate rather than guilty towards yourself will not only help in dealing with child raising problems, but will also help set a good example for the kids.
- Relationship with Parents: A warm, caring relationship with the mother and father helps in reducing behavioral problems in children. By being a secure base for the children, parents become a good launch pad for the kids to go out into the world, and forge new but healthy relationships when they grow up.
- Learn to Let Go: If your child is going to college, you must learn to let go. It is one of their major steps towards becoming independent, and constantly hovering around them can make them anxious and self-conscious. Be close, but not too close.
- Work on Mental Health: Studies have shown that, depressed parents struggle to fulfill their duties towards their kids. The negative parenting style will increase the child’s stress too, which affects their daily lives. Therefore, if you think that you are depressed, get help for you and your child’s sake.
- Work on Your Marriage: Do not let your parental responsibilities affect your marital relation with your better half. Studies show that, parents suffering from marital problems contribute to the stress in their children, resulting in sleeplessness and other mental issues. So keep yourself happy, to keep your child happy.
In today’s time, where everything is commercialized, and where children are exposed to adult subcultures from a very young age, nuclear families are becoming more unstable, negatively affecting the kids. Children form weak attachments, and have poor levels of empathy, respect, and civility. As children learn the most from their parents, the successful upbringing of a child requires active and sustained spiritual, physical, intellectual, and emotional presence of the parents in the kid’s life. The more time one spends in effectively rearing a child, the better the chances of the outcome.