Study Reveals How Parents May Help Children Weather the Culture Wars

Annie Holmquist | August 24, 2017

Study Reveals How Parents May Help Children Weather the Culture Wars

When Donald Trump was first elected for president, the news media began to ask how parents could best raise their children under the shadow of his leadership. TIME suggested parents teach their daughters to resist sexism. Jezebel insisted that parents raise sons by “refusing to engage in reductive binaries.” And the Huffington Post suggested that exposure to diversity was a must.

But the parenting quandaries which Trump’s behavior seemed to portend are now fading in the light of new troubles. The clash of far-right and far-left protesters on college campuses and the dissension over America’s historical figures seem to be creating a mini-war zone, complete with graphic images, violence, and an unsettling cultural climate. The question we should be asking ourselves now is not so much how to parent in the age of Trump, but how to parent in a time when cultural warring has turned into a daily minefield of chaos.

A new study produced by a team of Israeli researchers offers an answer to that question. Given that Israel is a perpetual stage for wartime chaos, researchers set out to see which type of parenting – authoritarian, authoritative, or permissive – is best able to counter the negative effects of cultural violence and dissension.

As the study explains, children whose mothers used either authoritarian parenting (strict on discipline, but low on warmth) and permissive parenting (centered on the child and asks little from him) experienced greater negative impacts from the chaos in which they lived.

However, children with mothers who practiced authoritative parenting – firm discipline balanced with love and autonomy – were far more able to weather the turmoil surrounding them.

Which brings us to the U.S.

Although American kids certainly don’t live in such a dangerous and dramatic war zone as those in Israel, it must be admitted that they are growing up in a far greater contentious society than their parents did. And even if today’s kids aren’t living right in the heart of the violence, the widespread use of digital media brings the riots and disturbing images to their very doorstep.

One can’t help but wonder if authoritative parenting is an antidote to the negative climate in which today’s kids are being raised. Is it possible that our children will better withstand these tumultuous times if we raise them in a firm, well-disciplined manner, with lots of love and affection sprinkled in?

It’s an interesting thought to ponder, particularly since many of those agitating today’s violence and turmoil were raised in a time when stoking self-esteem was a primary goal of child-rearing.

Is it possible we would have avoided our current problems with violence and chaos if the parents of millennials had shunned permissive parenting?



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