Indian children, whose fathers display negative parenting traits such as detachment, intrusiveness, lax enforcement of discipline, and controlling behaviour are likely to have lower self-esteem, suggests new research.
This is because children’s self-worth is linked to the behaviour of the dominant parent and in Indian cultures, fathers generally play the central role both within and outside the household, the study noted.
The researchers studied English and Indian families living in Britain to assess the impact of the household power structures that exist within different cultures on a child’s well-being.
They found that English children whose mothers displayed more negative parenting traits reported lower self-esteem.
But for Indian children, the father’s behaviour had more of an impact.
“Mothers and fathers play different roles in different cultures — these findings highlight the importance of these distinct gender-based power structures on a child’s self-worth,” said study co-author Alison Pike from University of Sussex in England.
In Indian cultures, fathers are considered to be the head of the family, in terms of power and their role as disciplinarian. These differences often remain in spite of immigration into Britain, the study said.
“Parenting literature is still dominated by mothering, reflecting Western norms. With 7.5 million foreign-born residents in the UK, we need to spend more time considering parenting practice through a cultural lens,” Pike noted.
The study was published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology.