My Virtual Child Experience
Colorado State University
HDFS 101 2014
Dr. Ashley Harvey
Theoretical Framework and Influence of Parenting
Every decision that a parent makes in terms of the way they discipline and comfort their child directly affects multiple aspects of that child’s life as they grow and develop. Different parenting choices develop into parenting styles, or the practices that parents exhibit in relation to their children and their beliefs about those practices (Arnett, 2012). Diana Baumrind communicated four differing parenting styles: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and disengaged. Each of the four styles of parenting is based on the dimensions of demandingness and responsiveness, and our text specifies that authoritative parents are those who are high in both of those magnitudes. Arnett also indicates that children with authoritative parents tend to have more favorable outcomes, such as independence, self-assurance, creativity, and social skills.
While raising my virtual child, Lyla, I veered more towards the authoritative parenting style and tried to have high control as well as high warmth towards her on a consistent basis. I was always sure that my rules and expectations of Lyla were clear, but always in a gentle way. I also made certain that she knew what the consequences would be if she failed to obey the rules, and would enforce those consequences if it was necessary. However, like other authoritative parents, I left room for discussion and negotiation. For example, when Lyla entered high school, she thought it was reasonable for her to have a later bedtime. Her and I sat down, and she listed all of the reasons as to why she thought she should get her way. After some consideration, I decided that a later bedtime would be acceptable if, and only if, all of her homework was completed at the same time it had to be completed before this later bedtime was introduced. Lyla and I were able to reach a compromise, and no issues following this change in routine.
Along with parenting styles, theoretical frameworks such as attachment also play a vital role in child development. The attachment theory, introduced by John Bowlby, primarily concerns the infant’s relationship with the primary caregiver (Arnett 2012). Bowlby explains that if there is a strong sense of trust in the child’s first attachment, and the caregiver is “sensitive and responsive” in their caring style, the infant will be more likely to learn that other people can also be trusted in social relationships (Arnett 2012). Since my child was shy throughout infancy, it was important that I maintained a goodness of fit with her, meaning that I would change my parenting techniques according to Lyla’s temperament (Arnett 2012). Because Lyla was so shy, I was conscious of the situations I placed her in, making sure I didn’t throw her into anything with an overwhelming amount of new faces or other unfamiliar things. I would ease Lyla into new environments very slowly, making sure I was close by at all times so I was able to encourage and reassure her. This particular parenting choice allowed my child to maintain her secure attachment to me while simultaneously beginning to explore her own independence, using me as her safety net. As Lyla continued to grow and began to make her own decisions more often, she continued to come to me for advice and guidance just as she did when she was an infant, only now in a different context. My child’s trust in me and instinct to seek out my assistance all throughout her eighteen years, relates back to my initial decision to pursue authoritative style parenting, as well as my ability to demonstrate goodness of fit. Virtual Child’s Experience
Development and Characteristics
According to Thomas and Chess and their three categorizes of temperament classification, my child could be described as slow-to-warm-up (Arnett 2012). When she was first introduced to new adults, she would react negatively until I took her from them. However, with practice and constant encouragement, she eventually became comfortable with people other myself. For example, when her grandmother came to visit the first time, Lyla would cry when she picked her up and constantly kept herself at a distance. When her grandma visited a few moths later, after she had warmed up, all Lyla wanted to do was play with her and was sad when she had to leave.
In early childhood, Lyla’s progress reports from school stated that she was a virtuous listener, very cooperative, and was good at communicating her questions when she didn’t understand something. Lyla was constantly chatting with the teachers, but quiet around other students. Her progress reports also mentioned that in a stressful situation, Lyla became very anxious and uneasy, which was somewhat surprising to me. Throughout middle childhood and adolescence, Lyla’s social skills had improved and she even demonstrated leadership skills in classroom activities. She excelled in reading and writing, but was somewhat below average in math and science. Every year of school, Lyla’s math and science scores improved, and with encouragement from her teachers and myself, she began to develop the skills to be able to handle stressful situations more gracefully. Her report cards and parent-teacher conferences indicated that she was ambitious in the classroom and possessed strong leadership skills, in the classroom as well as with her friends. Influence of Outside Factors
Along with parenting styles, there are other outside influences in a child’s life that
affect their development. For example, my child’s inherited genes most likely influenced her shy and quiet personality. While my choice in parenting style and my passed on genetics influenced Lyla, her personality and behavior also influenced my parenting habits. According to our text, this phenomenon is referred to as an evocative genotype environment interaction, meaning that one’s inherited genes or characteristics influence the reactions of the people that surround them (Arnett 2012). In other words, my child’s reaction to my parenting choices affected my future decisions and could have, potentially, caused me to change my parenting style.
Arnett, J. J. (2012). Human Development: A cultural approach. New York. Pearson.