Because I Said So: Living with My Mother by Shatia Sharp

Mar 28, 2023 | Attachments/Relationships

If I had a dime for every time I heard the infamous line “because I said so” during my pubescent years of development from my authoritarian, drill sergeant mother, I’d have quite a stash. Child-rearing practices have a significant impact on an adolescent’s emotional and social development. A healthy parent-child relationship based on affection, cooperation, support, and love serves as a model and reinforcer of behavior. Additionally, it strengthens preschool discipline and controls and supports adolescents’ acquisition of new skills.

The quality of the parent-child bond is critical. Early attachment experiences influence later development, but so does the consistency of the parent-child relationship. Psychologists conclude that the child’s emotional attachment to the mother serves as the foundation for all subsequent relationships. Our strong emotional bonds with the people who are important in our lives allow us to enjoy pleasure when we interact with them and find solace in their proximity during stressful times. This is referred to as an attachment.

By the second half of the first year, infants have grown attached to familiar people who have responded to their needs, and they seek special attention from their parents. The attachment theory’s forefathers identified four attachment styles. (1) secure attachment—these babies use their parents as a safe base. They may or may not cry when they are away, but if they do, it is due to the absence of the parent, and they prefer the mother over the stranger. When the parent returned, the securely attached child actively sought interaction, and the child’s crying was immediately reduced. This attachment style is demonstrated by approximately 65 percent of North American children.

(2) Avoidant attachment: These infants, in contrast, seemed unresponsive to the parent when she was present. When the mother leaves, the child is typically not upset and reacts to the stranger in the same way that the parent would. When a parent comes back to the child, the child avoids them or is reluctant to greet them. When the parent tries to embrace the child, the child frequently does not cling to them. Children in North America exhibit this model to a degree of about 20%.

The 3rd attachment style is ambivalent attachment. To be ambivalent means to have conflicting feelings about something. In studies, ambivalent children were clingy and reluctant to explore, became upset by the stranger regardless of whether or not the mother was present, and fought when the mother left; these children were also difficult to pacify. When the mother returned, children with this attachment style demanded to be picked up while also pushing the mother away or kicking her in a mixed reaction to her return. This pattern is seen in 10 to 15% of North American children.

Finally, (4) Disorganized/disoriented attachment—this pattern expresses the most insecurity. When these children were reunited with their parents, they displayed confusion and contradictory behavior. Children with this attachment style may turn away from their parents while being held, or they may approach the parent with disinterested, depressed emotions. Children who have this attachment style express their emotions through confused facial expressions. Some cry out after being comforted, while others adopt unusual, fearful postures. This pattern is seen in 5 to 10% of North American children.

Parents of secure children are loving, sincere, sensitive to their child’s needs, and responsive to the child’s attempts at communication. Parents of avoidant children are unresponsive, insensitive, and aloofly rejecting. Parents of ambivalent children try to be responsive, but they are inconsistent and insensitive to their children’s activities. Finally, parents of disorganized/disoriented children are found to be abusive or neglectful of their children. Attachment is not solely caused by parental behavior. The temperament of the child may play an important role in determining the parent’s reactions.

Parents want their children to mature into socially competent adults. The task of molding the adolescent into such a being can be a difficult and perplexing one for the parent (s). The parenting style chosen for the adolescent is critical in the ongoing shaping of his or her psychosocial development. Your parenting style can have an impact on everything from your child’s weight to how she/he feels about her/himself. Each parenting style has a unique approach to child rearing and can be distinguished by a variety of characteristics. Sometimes parents do not fit into a single category, so don’t be discouraged if you have times or areas where you are permissive and others where you are more authoritative. It is difficult to maintain consistency while juggling life and parenting. Don’t be a victim of parental guilt or shame.

Different Parenting Styles

  • Authoritarian
  • Authoritative
  • Permissive
  • Uninvolved

Authoritarian Parenting Style

  • You believe children should be seen and not heard
  • When it comes to rules, you believe it’s “my way or the highway.”
  • You don’t consider your children’s feelings.
  • Your focus is on obedience.
  • Punishment over discipline.

Authoritative Parenting Style

  • You put a lot of effort into creating and maintaining a positive relationship with your child.
  • You explain the reasons behind your rules.
  • You enforce rules and give consequences but consider your child’s feelings.
  • Create positive relationships.
  • Enforce rules.

Permissive Parenting Style

  • You set rules but rarely enforce them.
  • You don’t give out consequences very often.
  • You think your child will learn best with little interference from you.
  • Don’t enforce the rules.
  • Can be heard saying, “Kids will be kids.”

Uninvolved Parenting Styles

  • You don’t ask your child about school or homework.
  • You rarely know where your child is or who she is with.
  • You don’t spend much time with your child.
  • Provide little guidance, nurturing, or attention.

I have had a lot of experience with authoritarian parenting styles. My mother was an authoritarian during my adolescent years. She had to take on the role of both parents because I was raised in a single-parent household. My mother’s personality, psychological, and emotional framework most likely played a role in her adoption of this rigid, uncompromising parenting style. An authoritarian parenting style can suffocate an adolescent’s sense of autonomy. I was also too familiar with physical punishment. My mother had a penchant for spanking. We’ve all heard the phrase “this will hurt me more than it will hurt you” when a parent is about to spank their child. No. It’s not. I’d like to know who the first parent was who said this before lashing their child with a belt or some other unsavory torture tool.

I didn’t reach behind me and grab my mother’s instrument of choice; doing so would only prolong the agony. Because of my phlegmatic temperament, I didn’t have this experience very often. My mother’s stern expression and choleric stance were all the discipline I required. When I was an adolescent and my peers tried to coerce me to participate in certain activities, all I had to do was imagine that face and her sergeant-like posture, and that thought alone deterred me from many punishable offenses.

There is widespread agreement that parents of well-adjusted children use an authoritative parenting style. Long-term research, however, indicates that authoritative child-rearing promotes maturity in children of various temperaments. Authoritative parents make demands and use autonomy to match their child’s ability to accept responsibility for their actions. They instill in their children that they are capable individuals who can solve problems on their own; such parents promote high self-esteem as well as cognitive and social development.

Though I was not raised authoritatively, I know how to conduct myself charmingly and respectably in social situations, I have keen and astute cognitive maturity, and I have a healthy level of self-esteem. My mother and I may not have had the best mother-daughter relationship at the time, but looking back, her parenting style saved me from danger and undesirable situations that I would have engaged in if she hadn’t. I only wish I had started a “because I said so” jar.



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