The role of significant others in upbringing of children

At a time when the entire urban population of India is caught up in the mad rat race, there is hardly any time for proper upbringing of children. We see harmful characteristic traits in children who are hardly ten years old. This is where the role of significant others comes into play. We need to understand the full implications of these significant other people in the upbringing of children.


In normal middle-class families, the significant others who have a big role in shaping of beliefs, values and attitudes of children are the relatives of the children who stay in the house or close by. For example, in many cases, where the mother is a very busy professional, her sister who would be a housewife would nurture the child. If this influence by the aunt is good, the child becomes a highly responsible and empathetic person. The converse is also true. If that person is not so noble, the entire focus of the mother will shift to the ways in which the child can be taken care of, thus minimizing the influence of the aunt. In comparatively richer families, we observe a different scenario: the full time maid steps in and takes over. This does have a plus when such a person is good. The minus starts showing in the attitude of the child, if this person is not selfless.

The other significant others are the grandparents and the neighbors. Today, we unfortunately have a big category to pay attention to: the friends of children on social media. With rare exceptions, total strangers can really not play a big role at all.

In this article, we will discuss a) The role of grandparents b) The role of full time domestic maids c) The role of neighbors d) The role of close relatives and e) Role of friends on social media.

The role of grandparents

This is the most important role. Grand parents get to interact with the child almost immediately after he or she is born. There are wonderful stories of the massive role played by the grandparents in the lives of so many celebrities. They would often quote examples of highly productive learning experiences from their grandparents, particularly as it relates to values. For, the values like honesty, sincerity, hard work and so on are told to them through many real world experiences. When the child also hears many such good things about their gran parents from others in the native place, for example, the good values become deeply embedded in the minds of children. When they grow up, they tend to exhibit such good values. It is always observed that those who live with their grandchildren, and have enough to share with them, as also the time to do so, have the best influence on the children at a very young age itself.

Parents should always create a good environment where the grand parents can live in peace and interact with their grandchildren. The children should not be exposed to television serials, most of which are extremely harmful in most languages. This is one vital role of grandparents.

The role of full time domestic maids

Wherever and whenever either or both parents are very busy, and have extremely little time for their children, the role of full time domestic servants becomes very crucial. However, it ought to be noted that the personal honesty and integrity of this lady and the complete family background should be checked before employing such people.

Normally, the package would include decent accommodation in the same household and free food as well. There are instances where the domestic maids have really showered the best of selfless love and true affection on the children. Such children would not be away from such a person even for a single day. Since she becomes so close to the children emotionally, there are instances where the career of the professional mother simply takes off.

Benefits in terms of promotion and massive salaries enable a very decent standard of living and provision of good material comforts. In such a situation, the positive influence of the domestic servant would ensure that the children do not go astray. The family is very happy. The dangers may happen in the case of middle class families where the servant maids are only employed on a part time basis. This leads to some negative influences, particularly in cases where both parents are so busy business persons. Sometimes, we even hear of stories where drugs have totally spoiled the children. This should never happen.

The role of neighbors

In small towns, the parents themselves do mistakes. For example, if the boy next door is the classmate of the son, the father starts comparing his son with that of the neighbor. No two people are alike in this world. Students who are very poor in mathematics are highly successful media professionals and sometimes even counselors and so on. The parent should avoid such comparison and allow the child to grow naturally. If he gets over 80% marks in each subject, it is fine. Unfortunately, through a process of comparison, the parents push their children to score 100% in each of the three or four core subjects, as that would lead them to an IIT or a Government Medical College. This is not true at all. Today, there are many new professions and parents need to learn about these new professions and guide their children into careers that suit their interests and not push them into careers where they do not have any interest at any point in time.

Neighbors can also play a good role if they are good motivators. Not all parents are the same. There are neighbors where the parents play a very constructive role in shaping the values of people.

The role of close relatives

There are many instances in which close relatives have done a great job. There are cases reported where the maternal or paternal uncle has taken special interests in molding the careers of children. I know of one such family where an engineer's son was interested in the legal profession, right from the age of five, when he sort of imitated some lawyers from the same family. Today, he is s leading advocate and a legal consultant to many companies. It was his uncle who shaped his career and it has been a great experience for him.

Role of friends on social media

If not taken seriously, the role of friends on social media can be very dangerous. There are instances where teenage girls have been cheated and have lost their lives. There are of course, good instances where people have gained a lot from social media and have not only made money, but developed good and useful contacts. Hence parents, grand-parents and even relatives need to be glued to the positives of any social media or internet sources, and take things to their logical conclusion in terms of being flexible but open-minded when it comes to making social media and online internet resources very useful and productive part of learning.


Today's children are well-read. They have great exposure to social media as well. The moment we understand the vital role of each of the significant others in shaping the beliefs, values and attitudes of our children, we can make meaningful contributions in this direction. The ideas discussed above may offer the basic guidelines and baby steps to be taken in the right direction.


Author: Dr N V Srinivasa Rao09 Mar 2023 Member Level: Gold   Points : 6

This is a good article from the author. The influence of the parents will be more on children and they learn from their parents by seeing them and following them. But when the parents are not visible to the children, definitely they will learn from the other people who are around them in the house or in the neighbourhood. In urban areas, the influence of neighbours is also less. Many times grandparents are not staying with their grandchildren and hence learning from them is also very rare these days.
The role of the domestic maid will be important when the parents of the children are going out for earning leaving the child to the domestic maid. Some domestic maids will not pay much attention to the kids and spend their time on their smartphones. The kids will also start seeing smartphones and learn from the domestic maid. Finally, the social media impact is very high. Till the kids grow and understand the world, one of the parents should give time to the kids and see that they will be brought up properly.

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