What type of a parent are you?

“A parent is the child’s first mirror” GuruHellen

What is parenting?

This is the process of taking care and bringing up children entrusted to you till they are old enough to be independent. While some of us think that a parent is your father and/or mother, in modern societies we have adopted parents, guardians, caretakers, babysitters, nannies and even trustees who take up the role of parenting. Genetic concordance does not necessarily make you a parent, bluntly put, you are just a mere life donor. To become a parent, more is required of you; more in terms of time, emotion, knowledge, presence.

There is a Swahili saying that goes “Kuzaa mtoto si kazi; Kazi ni kumlea.” Translated as “Procreation is not work, the real work is bringing up a child”. It, therefore, means it is very easy to bear a child but it is hard work to bring it up to become a responsible adult. Thus the question: “What type of a parent am I?”

(a) The donor Parent: This is the lowest type of a parent in relation to the roles he/she plays. I would liken him/her to a serpent that lays eggs, and then when they hatch, the parent disappears, for good. These types of parents end up having no relationship at all with their offspring. Such parents have a habit of monitoring their children using ‘satellite’ and may only make occasional appearances when the children are much older. It may be too late to even be referred to as a parent by the children.

(b) The ‘seasonal’, ‘sporadic’, on/off, ‘moneybags’ parent: This type is present in the child’ life only, occasionally. They may be away due to job or business commitments for most of the times. They try their best not to miss any major celebrations such as birthdays or graduation for their children. However, they try to make up for their absence with expensive goodies/gifts. They even bend backward extreme portions in order to please their children, especially when they become teenagers. This is a detrimental relationship to the child and may lead to an attitude of entitlement, selfishness, uncourteous, and ‘big-babies’ who never grow up beyond the ‘terrible-twos’ age.

(c) The programmed, Robot Parent: This parent is always present in the child’s life and actively participates in bringing it up. However, he/she lacks the mental/spiritual capacity to handle the child’s erratic behaviour. They will stoop down to meet the child’s whims/claims just to silence the child; sometimes to the parents’ detriment. The child learns to manipulate the parent to get anything he/she wants. Such children, again become irrational, self-centred, very ill-tempered and sometimes very entitled. This bad behaviour develops roots into their adulthood. They do not care about anybody else’s feelings, even their own parents.

(d) The Dictator/Authoritarian parent: This is the opposite of the programmed parent. This type calls all the shots in the house and does not compromise. The parent orders what is to be said or done in the house. He/she becomes the supervisor and no one can contest what he/she says. They fill the house with fear and intimidation. They tend to yell a lot and do not share their precious time with the child. When they walk in the house, the child/children run to their rooms. These cause the children to be intimidated, scared, and lack self-esteem, and may continue to be so, in adulthood.

(e) The hypocrite parent: This is the ‘do-as-I-say and not-as-I-do’ type. They dictate what their children should do or not do. They become very strict and snoopy on their children; while at the same time they are practising the same vices they are discouraging their children from. Remember that children learn from observing and not by what you say. It is important to be the first role model for the child both in behaviour and in words.

(f) The full-time/dedicated parent: This type of parent is always available and actively involved in the child’s life. The parent is also a firm but fair disciplinarian, tries to be the child’s role model, motivator, and mentor. He/she is the go-to person when the child needs advice or help. This parent learns to grow up with the child and has a friend in his/her child till death.

Although these are different types of parenting they may not be exhaustive. Some parents may find themselves in the middle of two types of parenting. No one is perfect; as a parent, we are also always learning.

It is, however, an individual’s duty to assess oneself and see where one needs to improve on as a parent and how to go about it. Lastly, parenting is a noble calling, which we should enjoy as we go about it. Remember you are molding the future generation that will shape the world.


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