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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Parenting Styles Part 2:

First off I want to thank everyone who took the time to look at my first two hundred words and gave invaluable feedback. I hope also that you saw the differences from the two postings (and that the second one was better).

Parenting is an amazing gift and responsibility. I have four kids of my own and have strived to parent them to the best of my ability. Am I perfect?  Not even close.  Do I Strive every day to be a better parent?  Most definitely. The point of this is I feel that generally parents are doing the very best job they know how to do. Generally speaking parents love their children and want them to be the very best they can be. So during this I hope that we can all learn together and better understand how parenting affects the lives of our characters and as an added bonus understand how parenting affects our own lives.

To start off with I want to talk about a study conducted by Harry Harlow. In the 1960’s he conducted several controversial experiments on rhesus monkeys. He wanted to prove that newborns need more than just food and shelter but that they also require love and affection. What he did was he took newborn rhesus monkeys from their mothers and put them in cages with two different surrogate mothers. One was a wire monkey that had a milk bottle attached to it so the monkey could eat. The other surrogate mother was a terrycloth monkey providing warmth and a kind of affection. The experiments showed that the monkeys spent much more time with the terrycloth monkey even though it provided no food. Now this was definitely a cruel experiment but it clearly proved that love and affection is more important to the newborn than food. It also showed that without this warmth and affection the monkeys developed psychological problems and some even died from the trauma.

This leads us to our first parenting style, the neglectful parent. One thing I want to point out here is that all parents fall into this area at times. We all decide to do things like hmmmm I don’t know maybe write as opposed to play with our children J but the real problem is when we spend most to all of our time in this area. So the truly neglectful parent is the one that completely ignores their child. They don’t even make the effort to punish their kids. These are the parents that generally are having so many personal issues that they don’t have time for their children. This is also called the hands off, detached, uninvolved, or dismissive style. They set no limits for their children and provide little to no warmth to the child. Some of these parents can provide the basic necessities for the child but do not provide emotional support. Some of the worst cases of this are parents addicted to drugs. It is a very sad thing that happens but the children from a very young age must learn to fend for themselves.

Children that have these types of parents generally develop a sense that other aspects of the parents’ lives are more important than they are. Many of the children develop patterns of truancy and delinquency. They become detached from society and have problems with forming good relationships in the future. Some things I have seen is the children may become overly attached to others and very needy or the opposite where they need no one. Another common pattern is the hording of food. One child who was moved into a better home after being neglected would store food under his pillow and bed for many years after being moved even though there was plenty of food and love provided. It is also important to understand that there is more than parenting that is involved when a person’s personality is formed. There are many wonderful amazing people that have come from neglectful families. Do they most likely still have issues due to the neglect? Yes but, they have been able to overcome them and to move on and to be successful. Nothing is absolute!

So when writing about our characters that come from this type of home we must realize that they will have issues. They will most likely have problems with attaching to others. They will have trust issues and they may even be our villains (sadly this is true). In my novel the child had a good first few years but then went through some terrible years. Because of his beginning years he was able to move past the harder years.  


  1. Very good points. I like that you point out that not everyone from a neglectful home will be the villain...It may be the norm, but it's not absolute!

  2. I was talking to a friend the other day who did NOT have a very good relationship with his father. He said the father was very cold and kind of uncaring. My friend said his father let him do things that he looks back on now and realizes were dangerous. He said he almost wished his father would have punished him back then. My friend has moved on and is a very good parent himself. He's made an effort to be unlike his own father.

  3. i see this one a lot...and it can easily be viewed as giving the kid freedom...allowing him to stay out, do things without appropriate supervision...unfortunately it often means neglect...stay tuned into your kids...they may think it uncool at times, but they will tahnk you later...

  4. One can be the best parent in the world but when their offspring gets older they have minds of their own, have beliefs that may go against their parents at the end of the day you have to let them "Go" your work is finished.


  5. Very powerful point. I've heard of the rhesis monkey experiment before (years ago before I became a mother). You raise some valid points to keep clear in our writing as well as in real life. Neglect can be more traumatic than physical abuse at times.

  6. Awesome points. Though I think I need to find a have one I can borrow? I mean you have 4 so...

    Great post!

  7. This is something I am glad I have a chance to think about as I prepare to have children.

    I also like the idea of adding details like this to my characters. Great post. Thanks.

  8. Great insights and such useful information. I've heard of the experiment before, but hadn't thought about it in a very long time.

  9. Great insight into how the dynamic between an adult and their neglectful parent. It really helps me understand my characters and how they will behave as adults.


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