I remember visiting India during my summers off from elementary school. To my parents it was “home,” but for me it was a foreign land: I didn’t speak Hindi, I didn’t understand why it was a third world country, and I didn’t relate to some of the collectivistic customs which involved spending my day in the homes of relatives for long periods of time.
The Indians also labeled me a “foreigner.” I was pointed at and called an “NRI” when I walked around. I later learned that meant Non-Resident Indian. The Indians living in India wanted to learn more about us. Indian-Americans were interesting to them: What did “Americans” do? What was it like going to school there? What TV shows did we watch?
The parents in India seemed more authoritarian or strict to me that parents in the United States. Research in the past has also confirmed that the authoritative parenting style is more common in Western cultures and the authoritarian parenting styles is more common with Eastern cultures.
However, today, due to globalization, many Indians living in India have instant access to America and the American way of life. This has changed the way parents living in India parent their children today. The researchers Barnhart and colleagues (2013) wanted to explore the perception of parenting styles among college students in India and in the United States. The findings were very interesting.
The college students living in India believed that their parents were more permissive. They were more laid back and the focus was on what they the child wanted to do. These college students also believed that this was a more effective way to parent.
However, the college students living in the United States, felt that their parents were either authoritative or authoritarian. They had rules and consequences. There was also more negotiating and compromising between parents and children. These students felt that this was a more effective way to parent.
The researchers put forth that through globalization and modernization particularly of the suburban, middle-class communities in Asia, comes changing attitudes in parenting. As a result, these parents are taking on more individualistic values that prioritize autonomy for their children. They may also want to emulate Western media and culture that emphasize more permissiveness in parenting over obedience to parents.
Gender also played a role in their findings. While boys believed that the permissive style of parenting was more effective for them, girls believed the authoritative style of parenting was more effective. Furthermore, research also suggests that over the years, parenting by fathers in India has shifted and fathers are becoming more nurturing and involved.
For bicultural and multicultural families living in the United States, globalization has given us instant access to family and friends from around the world. Families are now able to preserve cultural traditions that may have been lost through easier access to products and people. My grandma who lives in Delhi is able to tell us about Indian cultural festivals that are occurring in her town. She can also guide us through religious rituals to perform at our own home. We are able to buy what we need from the local Indian stores.
As we become a more global nation here in the United States, it will be important to take into consideration the ways in which our parenting styles continue to evolve and change. Immigration status and generational differences also matter. First-generation immigrants parent in different ways than second-generation parents. We also know that culture has a strong influence on parenting style as well as our family-of-origin experiences.
So what’s your parenting style and has it evolved? See below to compare and contrast between authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative parenting styles.
The following hypothetical vignettes were used in Barnhart and colleagues (2013) study to figure out what style best represented the parenting styles of college students in India and in the United States:
Tammy is a mother of two, Eddie (age 7) and Stephanie (age 11). Tammy believes that she knows what is best for her children, and that children should do what their parents expect without asking questions. In one particular situation, when Eddie and Stephanie came home from school, they wanted to go outside to play. When Tammy told them that they have to finish all of their homework before they could go outside to play with their friends, Eddie and Stephanie became upset. Tammy responded that there would be no further discussion on the matter, and the children had to listen to her and respect her authority.
Michelle is a mother of two, Charlie (age 7) and Alexis (age 11). Michelle believes that parents should not put restrictions on their children, and that while growing up, children should be free to do what they want. In one particular situation, Alexis and Charlie came home from school and wanted to go outside to play. Michelle asked them if they had any homework, and the children said that they did have homework but did not want to do it right then. Michelle immediately agreed and let them go outside to play for as long as they want.
Joanne is a mother of two, Johnny (age 7) and Sally (age 11). Joanne believes that parents should establish rules in the family, explain the reasoning, and encourage children to discuss their questions and concerns about those rules. In one particular situation, Sally and Johnny came home from school and wanted to go outside to play. When Joanne reminded Johnny and Sally that they first needed to do their homework, Johnny and Sally started to get upset and said that they would not do their homework. Joanne listened to Johnny and Sally as they explained why they wanted to go outside first, and, ultimately, explained to the children the rules she had originally established which were clear that homework must be completed before going outside to play.