Developing Interdependence in Children
If you’ve paid attention to parenting as well as teaching techniques over the years, you’ve probably noticed that there are many different styles of parenting and consequently many different outcomes of child behavior that are shaped by these styles.
Children are born with a certain number of fixed attributes. Yet the question arises, how much of their personalities is shaped by how a parent is guiding and training them?
That’s not easy to know but fostering a good parenting style is a way to minimize many behavioral issues.
What are some popular parenting styles today?
There is the authoritarian “do as I say without asking why” approach. There is the permissive “do whatever you want without expecting a consequence” approach. There’s the micromanaging or helicopter approach. There’s outright childhood emotional neglect.
These are all extreme, but parenting styles can fall anywhere on the spectrum and potentially reflect two styles from two parents melded together, depending upon how much agreement and credence has been given to each.
Somewhere in the middle there are more balanced approaches that showcase independence and accountability.
One such approach is that of interdependence, where the parent is fostering age-appropriate independence yet is aware enough of where the child is developmentally to act as the safety net when skills have yet to be acquired. Child developmental psychologists agree that this approach is optimal because children will feel healthy emotional attachment to the caregiver who is allowing them to explore, yet are also available within a healthy distance.
How exactly does one foster interdependence? What kinds of things does the adult have to have overcome to be able to be a healthy caregiver for this type of instruction?
Ideally, the adult that is teaching the child has used self-awareness to see what areas might hinder their ability to teach well. If the adult was raised with little freedom to explore their own thoughts, that adult will have fear and control issues with the child. They would need to work through their issues before endeavoring to instill a healthy bond with the child since they will be limited otherwise. If the adult had very permissive and even emotionally absent parents, this will cause a different type of dynamic for the child-adult bond, one of similar neglect and will not give the child sufficient emotional stability to grow and learn well.
So interdependence can be formed by adults who have learned from their experiences and have enough self-awareness to instill it into their child. They first need to become free of anything from the past that hinders them; then they can extend trust instead of fear, control or neglect to the child.
Interdependence is the healthier relational option and helps the child grow in sequential autonomy based on their age, so they are in command of themselves at each stage of growth. They become successful adults as a result.
In contrast if a caregiver is unknowingly fostering co-dependence, enmeshment, or emotional neglect the child will have unnecessary emotional trauma to deal with when they are grown. These unhealthy relational patterns then become stumbling blocks to the future adults’ relational success, so an aware parent not only heals themselves, they pass down a healthy mindset to their children.
Interdependence models that relationships exist for mutual benefit and care given “as needed” and not derived from negative motives as one-sided obligation or guilt. In it’s purest form, it is freely given from a healthy adult to a learning and growing child.
The benefit of parenting with interdependence is that it creates ideal modes for all their children’s other friendships in life. It gives them secure attachment without the emotional baggage many other parenting styles inadvertently pass down. For best success and health the wise, engaged, and aware parent will choose interdependence.
Bogdanos, M. (2019). Developing Interdependence in Children. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 31, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/developing-interdependence-in-children/