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Indian parents with their kids.

Parenting in India – A Mix of Cultural Values & Western Influence

Parenting is the process of raising children while instilling important values and encouraging their development. While the approach and style of parenting vary from parent to parent, the common goal is to safeguard and nurture a healthy, and independent child who is inclined to make a positive difference in the world.

It may sound easy to non-parents, but the opportunity to raise a child comes with many challenges and responsibilities, making it the world’s most difficult job to succeed in!

The Indian Approach to Parenting

In India, parenting reflects the cultural value system and the true nature of Indian society. Despite the evolving practices and the impact of westernization, parenting goals in India still highlight its strong hierarchical kinship structure.

To date, one can find some striking features of parental control visible in Indian family settings.

1. Collectivistic Indian Family System and Parenting

Studies have found that the Indian family system is collectivistic in nature. It is because traditional Indian families promote social cohesion and interdependence.

In recent times, there has been a considerable change in the disintegration of the joint family system. Giving rise to the nuclear family culture, which is most prevalent in many parts of India.

Irrespective of the family structure, the Indian family system still follows the principles of collectivism wherein cooperation, solidarity, and cohesion are attached more value. Because parents in India help their children to develop cultural understanding. And they simultaneously transfer family values to them.

Experts highlight that culture-specific influences dominate parenting practices. And these influences in turn shape the decision-making and behavior of parents even before the child is born.

2. The Perspective of Parenting in India

Typically, Indian parenting is aimed at determining the direction of the child’s holistic development. Parents guide their children in all walks of life. And it is believed that a child’s personality can be molded by inculcating the right values in him/her. Parents take up the duty to expose children to a number of situations/experiences. And this in turn influences the child’s overall growth & learning.

Coming to the aspect of equally shared parenting, gender-specific roles continue to dominate. And despite the growing awareness of gender equality and division of parenting load, the Indian society does not achieve the target of 50-50 load sharing within the families.

3. Expectations and Academic Pressure

Academic stress was once a regular phenomenon in India. Out of the numerous variables associated with it, parenting was also one of the factors that contributed to it the most. Expectations of parents in India stand as one of the major causes of academic stress. And it also leads to devastating consequences such as student suicides and adjustment problems in children.

Excessive academic pressure on children can hamper their development and potentially have disastrous consequences.

It is noteworthy that, educating a child is also stressful for parents. Because they want their kids to stay happy and secure in life. And this makes them concerned about their child’s performance around the year. 

Of late, this situation has improved to some extent. Because the Indian education system has remodeled itself, overcoming the challenges and making way for more student-centric practices.

And with popular new alternatives like home-based schooling and online schooling, Indian parents have found some better ways of educating their children. These new modes of schooling have considerably reduced the parental load. And it has also relieved them of several duties such as lengthy homework hours and rigorous monitoring.

Parenting in India is easier with these new models of school education. And these alternatives to traditional learning also help the students to move away from the academic rat race and its unpleasant repercussions.

4. Parenting in a Nuclearized Family Structure

A happy nuclear family of four (mother-father, daughter, and son).

Indian family structure has undergone a major change. Nowadays, the nuclear family system is a full-fledged form, wherein the parents live with only their children. Other than this, the incomplete nuclear family system with either a parent is also prevalent.

This change in the structure of the family as a unit has also affected the parenting styles in India. Because now families do not have the support of their relatives such as the grandparents or other members of the extended family.

The breakdown of the joint family culture is a common scenario in both urban and rural areas today.

Key difference between a joint family and nuclear family

While parenting is never easy, handling it without a support system of a joint family can be even more difficult. However, raising kids in a joint family setting can be quite rewarding as well. It is believed that kids who are raised in joint families are better at managing conflicts and relationships later in life.

On the other hand, parenting under the nuclear family setup gives more privacy to the child. The only drawback is that this structure demands external assistance through daycare centers or dependence on house help. But in most cases, all this is manageable for the parents.

5. Inculcating Values in Children

In modern times, value inculcation is also about encouraging open-mindedness, a growth mindset, and intercultural understanding. In fact, the disintegration of the joint family system itself has made way for a more benevolent and empathetic value inculcation process.

Today, self-identity and closer family bonds are the basis of raising emotionally stable children in Indian families. And in a way, it is much better than the toxic relationships that hindered the growth and development of children in a joint family setup.

Happy and healthy children.

[Research shows that children who are brought up through authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles develop more resilience. On the other hand, neglectful or permissive parenting leads to lower resilience (in adolescence).]

How Is Parenting in India Different From What’s Being Practised in the West?

  1. Indian parents focus more on instilling family values, whilst western parents place a greater emphasis on instilling self-reliance.
  2. Due importance is attached to discipline (especially in the early years of life), whereas western parents emphasize developing social skills.
  3. In India, a child’s viewpoints are often overlooked in decision making, even when it comes to the child’s own career.
  4. Unlike western parents, who encourage autonomy, Indian parents intervene in their child’s life even after they become an adult.
  5. Indian parents are driven by emotions, especially when it comes to following family traditions, and social obligations such as marriage or having a child.
  6. In contrast to western parents, Indian parents are exceedingly protective of their children and encourage living together, even after adolescence.

Before we wrap up, let’s take a quick look at some strengths and shortcomings of the Indian way of parenting.

Strengths and Shortcomings of Indian Parenting

Strengths

  1. Indian parents focus on inculcating family values.
  2. Due importance is attached to discipline (especially in the early years of life).
  3. There is a mix of conservative and modern outlooks in many families.
  4. Parents are protective of their kids (at least until a certain age).
  5. Focus on health and nutrition right since the school-going age.
  6. Unconditional love and self-sacrificing to a great extent.

Shortcomings

  1. Sticking to some age-old irrelevant practices such as gender biases.
  2. More driven by emotions especially when it comes to following family traditions.
  3. Excessive intervention in the child’s life (helicopter parenting) even when he/she becomes an adult.
  4. Less acceptance of the child’s viewpoints.
  5. More focus on aspects that are more of social obligations (such as marriage or having a child)

Summing It Up

Parenting in India has come a long way from a conservative joint family system to modern-day mindful handling. Even though Indian parenting methods are often criticized around the world, and perceived as ‘abusive’ by a few countries in the west; One can easily identify some valuable features of parental control visible in the Indian family settings.

With more emphasis on positive parenting, our Indian society is finally giving more autonomy to children. The strength of Indian parenting lies in the emotional bonding and the acceptance of individual differences within the social system.

And now that the Indian parenting trends are constantly undergoing positive transformations, many Indian children are fortunate to get the best of both worlds!

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