Global Day of Parents - celebrating the work of parents
Written by Ruth McGuire - 1st June 2022
“As the anchors of the family and the foundation of our communities and societies, parents have the responsibility of sheltering their families from harm, caring for out-of-school children and, at the same time, continuing their work responsibilities. Without support from parents, children’s health, education and emotional well-being is at risk.” This statement from the World Health Organisation is a tribute to parents all over the world as Global Day of Parents is celebrated on June 1. The celebration day recognises the hard and priceless work of parents in rearing children.
Given the impact of the pandemic on the entire world, it is a fact that in most cases, parents have been the anchor that have held families together. However, this has not been without an enormous cost to both the physical and mental health of many families. In addition, parents had to deal with the additional task of home schooling their children, supervising their learning and understanding their child’s learning style. All this was in addition to parents having to find new ways to meet the social and emotional needs of children who were often confined to their homes for long periods of time, without access to their friends and peers, and sometimes with little or no outdoor spaces to access for play or recreation. Parents have therefore had to deal with a multiplicity of challenges over the last couple of years.
To a large extent, the way parents interact with their children during times of crisis like Covid or when other challenging circumstances arise, is determined by their style of parenting. However, parenting styles are as diverse as the different types of parents who care for children.
A very long time ago, in a different world, the term ‘parents’ was fairly easy to understand. It meant a mother and father who were married to each other. Occasionally, it meant a biological parent and their spouse who was not biologically related to a child and who was a step-parent. Nowadays, the term parent encompasses a wide range of people who are the primary caregivers for a child. The term could now include: parents who co-habit but are not married, same sex parents who could have no biological connection to a child or could be same sex parents, where one of the parents is the biological parent of a child, parents who have adopted a child, foster carers who act as ‘substitute’ parents or single parents who often are not single by choice but as a result of circumstance, such as relationship breakdown or death of a partner. ‘Co-parenting’ or ‘shared parenting’ is the term generally used for two parents who no longer live together but share parenting responsibilities for a child/their children.
As we celebrate ‘Global Parents Day’, children who are cared for outside the home and without any parents must not be forgotten. These children have what is known as a ‘corporate parent’, which is essentially, a local authority. As Oldham local authority explains: ‘When a child’s parents or family cannot or do not provide appropriate care for them the local authority has a corporate parenting responsibility for the child. This is a legal responsibility given to local authorities by the Children Act 1989 and the Children Act 2004.’ www.oldham.gov.uk/info/201107/children_in_care_and_care_leavers/1881/corporate_parenting. (Accessed 24.05.22)
Children who have ‘corporate parents’ are also known as ‘looked after children.’ However, it should never be assumed that these children are less happy than other children. Quite often children become ‘looked after’ because their home environment with their parents is not conducive to their health and well-being. Becoming ‘looked after’ can in some cases result in a significant improvement to the quality of a child’s life. For example, one child quoted in the May 2022 report, ‘The independent review of children’s social care’ said: “Care has been a great experience for me, filled with loving people who have shown true commitment to me, and supported me through my greatest challenges.”
In the 1970s, clinical and development psychologist Diana Baumrind carried out research to explore the way parents exercise their authority and express their love towards the children. As a result of the study, Baumrind identified three main parenting styles which are as follows: authoritarian, authoritative and permissive. “Authoritarian parents are highly demanding of their children’s behavior in a cold, sometimes harsh manner. By contrast, “laissez faire” or permissive parents are warm and responsive to their children but provide little in the way of structure or appropriate demands for maturity.” https://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/in-memoriam/files/diana-baumrind.html. Accessed 24.05.22.
According to Baumrind, the ideal type of parenting style is the ‘authoritative’ style. It is believed that this style has the most positive impact on a child, on their life chances and outcomes, and on their general development. This style of parenting is also believed to result in well-adjusted children whose cognitive, social, and emotional development’ is positive. Baumrind’s message to parents was essentially about balance – about parents asserting their authority in a way that provides a child with structure and boundaries, whilst also parenting in a way that ensures children feel loved and cared for. Meanwhile, the permissive style of parenting was found to be problematic for children as it is too relaxed, provides warmth for children but lacks structure. Parents who adopt this style tend to view themselves as being ‘friends’ of their children, but do not create a structure with the boundaries that children need.
As parents all over the world are celebrated on the Global Day of Parents, it is important to recognise the diversity in both parent types and their styles of parenting. This is particularly important for practitioners who work with children and who want to support their development throughout childhood, in adolescence and into adulthood.
Further reading and videos on parenting styles
Independent review into children’s social care report. May 2022
Global day of parents – ideas and resources
Ruth McGuire has extensive experience in education as a lecturer/tutor and in the development of accredited courses within the further education sector. She is now involved in the inspection of education/social work courses. In addition, she has various roles as a patient advocate/representative within the NHS and is also an experienced writer/researcher.