The parenting styles of Indians are unique to the history and culture of the Asian subcontinent. Family roles of various members are clearly defined and passed down through generations -- the father is the breadwinner and the mother the homemaker. Around them is the vast network of extended family members who contribute to the rearing of the child. Although parenting styles have changed for some with increasing education and cultural mobility, social observers say for the vast majority the household dynamic of an Indian family remains the same.
The Authoritarian Parent
The typical Indian family is headed by the father who arbitrates in authoritarian style matters related to family and children. Female members of the family take charge of all other matters of the house including those related to children. For the male patriarch it is more important traditionally to maintain a distance and formality in his relationship with his children. Supporters of this kind of parenting say it fosters respect for elders -- a very important ideal in Indian culture.
The extended or joint family is another typical feature of traditional Indian culture. Parenting is not strictly the domain of the father and the mother -- it is the business and concern of maternal and paternal aunts and uncles, grandparents, even distant relatives. An Indian child grows up in a house filled with people or in continual contact with relatives. This system is encouraged as a cradle for the well-nurtured child it but may cause the blurring of lines when it comes to parenting, some experts claim.
The Authoritative Parent
The educated, independent Indian parent will have a different style of parenting. As in authoritarian parenting, there will be limits and rules, but this style is more democratic and egalitarian than one where the child has very few rights to question or disagree the parent's edict. The increasingly educated middle class of India is now moving away from the style of parenting they had when they were children. New social studies reveal in such Indian households a child is encouraged to be independent and global in his outlook.
The New Indian Parent
The new Indian parent may be single and have an entirely different attitude towards parenting than his own parent's generation. With divorce, adoption and step-families becoming less taboo than they were in the generation before this, the new Indian parent is more open in style with his child. The small family will have both parents working and fewer children. As the concept of living becomes more Westernized, so does the parenting style. In a 21st century Indian family, traditional meets modern.
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