How Parents’ Issues Impact Kids

July 19, 2022

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Claudia Black Young Adult Center

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By Wesley Gallagher

It’s no secret that, as parents, you have a huge impact on your kids. As the primary caregivers of your children, you are responsible for providing a loving and stable home environment. You also have the unique responsibility to discipline and teach them how to handle any adversity that may come their way. No one is perfect, however, and our parenting can have both positive and negative effects on our children.

Parenting Styles Affect Behavior

One big way parents affect their children’s development and behavior is through parenting styles. Whether we know it or not, we are all parenting in specific ways, and our children are affected by the way we discipline them (and also how we don’t).

According to Verywellfamily.com, there are four types of parenting styles:

  • Authoritarian

These parents take a “my way or the highway” approach to children, with an emphasis on rules and punishment. Children’s feelings are often not taken into consideration, and obedience is the most important goal. Kids are not involved in problem-solving, and their opinions are disregarded. Children with authoritarian parents may become good at following the rules, but they also may become good at lying in order to avoid punishment. They are also at risk of developing self-esteem problems since their opinions aren’t valued.

  • Permissive

This type allows children to run the show, with little parental interference. Rules are often set but not enforced, and parents only step in when there is a serious problem. Permissive parents act more like friends than parents, encouraging their kids to talk to them about their problems but rarely putting in effort to discourage bad behavior. Children with permissive parents may exhibit behavioral problems and struggle academically. They often have low self-esteem and are at higher risk for health problems like obesity because parents may not limit their intake of junk food.

  • Uninvolved

Uninvolved parents have little knowledge of what their kids are doing and don’t spend much time with them. They expect children to raise themselves, often neglecting to meet their basic needs. Parents may be uninvolved due to stress or busyness, or something more serious like substance abuse or mental health issues. Children with uninvolved parents often struggle with self-esteem and behavioral problems, perform poorly in school, and rank low in happiness.

  • Authoritative

These parents have rules and enforce consequences while also taking their kids’ opinions into account. They make a strong effort to maintain a positive relationship with their children and use positive reinforcement for good behaviors. Children with authoritative parents are most likely to become responsible, confident adults who are good at making decisions.

Other Ways Parents Impact How Kids Act

Parenting style isn’t the only way Mom or Dad affect their kids’ behavior and development. As the saying goes, “More is caught than taught.” And taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically can have a big impact on those little ones looking up to you.

According to a study published in Adversity and Resilience Science, positive relationships and interactions with parents, other family members, and others make optimal health and development more likely, and poor mental health among parents is associated with poor mental and physical health in children. Parents who are struggling with mental health conditions may simply not have the capacity to adequately care for their children. Other risks include inherited vulnerabilities, living in an unsafe environment, or experiencing deprivation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

father parenting son

The effects of parental substance abuse on children and families are similarly detrimental. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) states that children whose parents struggle with addiction are more likely to experience difficulties in academic and social settings and family functioning. They are also at an increased risk for maltreatment, neglect, and child welfare involvement. They may even end up in foster care, which is also associated with negative outcomes for children. The long-term effects of foster care on children include similar negative impacts on social and emotional well-being, making it simply the lesser of two evils when parents are unable to care for them. 

How Can You Set Up Your Children for Success?

If you are a parent struggling with mental health or addiction issues, it’s never too late to set your children — and yourself — up for success. The most important aspect is to focus on your own health so you can provide the loving, stable, supportive environment your children need. Only when you take care of yourself can you begin to focus on parenting your children well and giving them what they need to thrive.

If your child has experienced trauma or seems to struggle with developmental or behavioral issues, they may benefit from the help of a professional. Talk to their pediatrician about your concerns, and they will point you in the right direction to get the help you need.

If you are a parent of a teen or young adult struggling with mental health or addiction, Claudia Black Young Adult Center is here to help. Our intensive, experientially-based inpatient treatment is tailored to meet the unique needs of young adults, whether it’s emotional trauma, addiction, mental health conditions, or any combination of these. Our highly trained staff are committed to providing individualized care for each young adult who comes through our doors, providing lasting, whole-person healing. Reach out today to learn more.