• PARENTING STYLE AND ITS CORRELATES


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PARENTING STYLE AND ITS CORRELATES
By Nancy Darling
Developmental psychologists have been interested in how parents
influence the development of children’s social and instrumental
competence since at least the 1920s. One of the most robust
approaches to this area is the study of what has been called "parenting
style." This Digest defines parenting style, explores four types, and
discusses the consequences of the different styles for children.
Parenting Style Defined
Parenting is a complex activity that includes many specific behaviors
that work individually and together to influence child outcomes.
Although specific parenting behaviors, such as spanking or reading
aloud, may influence child development, looking at any specific
behavior in isolation may be misleading. Many writers have noted that
specific parenting practices are less important in predicting child well-
being than is the broad pattern of parenting. Most researchers who
attempt to describe this broad parental milieu rely on Diana
Baumrind’s concept of parenting style. The construct of parenting style
is used to capture normal variations in parents’ attempts to control
and socialize their children (Baumrind, 1991).
Two points are critical in understanding this definition. First, parenting
style is meant to describe normal variations in parenting. In other
words, the parenting style typology Baumrind developed should not be
understood to include deviant parenting, such as might be observed in
abusive or neglectful homes. Second, Baumrind assumes that normal
parenting revolves around issues of control. Although parents may
differ in how they try to control or socialize their children and the
extent to which they do so, it is assumed that the primary role of all
parents is to influence, teach, and control their children.
Parenting style captures two important elements of parenting: parental
responsiveness and parental demandingness (Maccoby & Martin,
1983). Parental responsiveness (also referred to as parental warmth or
supportiveness) refers to "the extent to which parents intentionally
foster individuality, self-regulation, and self-assertion by being
attuned, supportive, and acquiescent to children’s special needs and
demands" (Baumrind, 1991, p. 62). Parental demandingness (also
referred to as behavioral control) refers to "the claims parents make
on children to become integrated into the family whole, by their
maturity demands, supervision, disciplinary efforts and willingness to
confront the child who disobeys" (Baumrind, 1991, pp. 61-62).
Four Parenting Styles
Categorizing parents according to whether they are high or low on
parental demandingness and responsiveness creates a typology of four
parenting styles: indulgent, authoritarian, authoritative, and
uninvolved (Maccoby & Martin, 1983). Each of these parenting styles
reflects different naturally occurring patterns of parental values,
practices, and behaviors (Baumrind, 1991) and a distinct balance of
responsiveness and demandingness.
• Indulgent parents (also referred to as "permissive" or
"nondirective") "are more responsive than they are demanding.
They are nontraditional and lenient, do not require mature
behavior, allow considerable self-regulation, and avoid
confrontation" (Baumrind, 1991, p. 62). Indulgent parents may
be further divided into two types: democratic parents, who,
though lenient, are more conscientious, engaged, and committed
to the child, and nondirective parents.
• Authoritarian parents are highly demanding and directive, but
not responsive. "They are obedience- and status-oriented, and
expect their orders to be obeyed without explanation"
(Baumrind, 1991, p. 62). These parents provide well-ordered
and structured environments with clearly stated rules.
Authoritarian parents can be divided into two types:
nonauthoritarian-directive, who are directive, but not intrusive or
autocratic in their use of power, and authoritarian-directive, who
are highly intrusive.
• Authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive.
"They monitor and impart clear standards for their children’s
conduct. They are assertive, but not intrusive and restrictive.
Their disciplinary methods are supportive, rather than punitive.
They want their children to be assertive as well as socially
responsible, and self-regulated as well as cooperative"
(Baumrind, 1991, p. 62).
• Uninvolved parents are low in both responsiveness and
demandingness. In extreme cases, this parenting style might
encompass both rejecting–neglecting and neglectful parents,
although most parents of this type fall within the normal range.
Because parenting style is a typology, rather than a linear combination
of responsiveness and demandingness, each parenting style is more
than and different from the sum of its parts (Baumrind, 1991). In
addition to differing on responsiveness and demandingness, the
parenting styles also differ in the extent to which they are
characterized by a third dimension: psychological control.
Psychological control "refers to control attempts that intrude into the
psychological and emotional development of the child" (Barber, 1996,
p. 3296) through use of parenting practices such as guilt induction,
withdrawal of love, or shaming.
One key difference between authoritarian and authoritative parenting
is in the dimension of psychological control. Both authoritarian and
authoritative parents place high demands on their children and expect
their children to behave appropriately and obey parental rules.
Authoritarian parents, however, also expect their children to accept
their judgments, values, and goals without questioning. In contrast,
authoritative parents are more open to give and take with their
children and make greater use of explanations. Thus, although
authoritative and authoritarian parents are equally high in behavioral
control, authoritative parents tend to be low in psychological control,
while authoritarian parents tend to be high.
Consequences for Children
Parenting style has been found to predict child well-being in the
domains of social competence, academic performance, psychosocial
development, and problem behavior. Research based on parent
interviews, child reports, and parent observations consistently finds:
• Children and adolescents whose parents are authoritative rate
themselves and are rated by objective measures as more socially
and instrumentally competent than those whose parents are
nonauthoritative (Baumrind, 1991; Weiss & Schwarz, 1996;
Miller et al., 1993).
• Children and adolescents whose parents are uninvolved perform
most poorly in all domains.
In general, parental responsiveness predicts social competence and
psychosocial functioning, while parental demandingness is associated
with instrumental competence and behavioral control (i.e., academic
performance and deviance). These findings indicate:
• Children and adolescents from authoritarian families (high in
demandingness, but low in responsiveness) tend to perform
moderately well in school and be uninvolved in problem
behavior, but they have poorer social skills, lower self-esteem,
and higher levels of depression.
• Children and adolescents from indulgent homes (high in
responsiveness, low in demandingness) are more likely to be
involved in problem behavior and perform less well in school, but
they have higher self-esteem, better social skills, and lower
levels of depression.
In reviewing the literature on parenting style, one is struck by the
consistency with which authoritative upbringing is associated with both
instrumental and social competence and lower levels of problem
behavior in both boys and girls at all developmental stages. The
benefits of authoritative parenting and the detrimental effects of
uninvolved parenting are evident as early as the preschool years and
continue throughout adolescence and into early adulthood. Although
specific differences can be found in the competence evidenced by each
group, the largest differences are found between children whose
parents are unengaged and their peers with more involved parents.
Differences between children from authoritative homes and their peers
are equally consistent, but somewhat smaller (Weiss & Schwarz,
1996). Just as authoritative parents appear to be able to balance their
conformity demands with their respect for their children’s individuality,
so children from authoritative homes appear to be able to balance the
claims of external conformity and achievement demands with their
need for individuation and autonomy.
Influence of Sex, Ethnicity, or Family Type
It is important to distinguish between differences in the distribution
and the correlates of parenting style in different subpopulations.
Although in the United States authoritative parenting is most common
among intact, middle-class families of European descent, the
relationship between authoritativeness and child outcomes is quite
similar across groups. There are some exceptions to this general
statement, however: (1) demandingness appears to be less critical to
girls’ than to boys’ well-being (Weiss & Schwarz, 1996), and (2)
authoritative parenting predicts good psychosocial outcomes and
problem behaviors for adolescents in all ethnic groups studied
(African-, Asian-, European-, and Hispanic Americans), but it is
associated with academic performance only among European
Americans and, to a lesser extent, Hispanic Americans (Steinberg,
Dornbusch, & Brown, 1992; Steinberg, Darling, & Fletcher, 1995).
Chao (1994) and others (Darling & Steinberg, 1993) have argued that
observed ethnic differences in the association of parenting style with
child outcomes may be due to differences in social context, parenting
practices, or the cultural meaning of specific dimensions of parenting
style.
Conclusion
Parenting style provides a robust indicator of parenting functioning
that predicts child well-being across a wide spectrum of environments
and across diverse communities of children. Both parental
responsiveness and parental demandingness are important
components of good parenting. Authoritative parenting, which
balances clear, high parental demands with emotional responsiveness
and recognition of child autonomy, is one of the most consistent family
predictors of competence from early childhood through adolescence.
However, despite the long and robust tradition of research into
parenting style, a number of issues remain outstanding. Foremost
among these are issues of definition, developmental change in the
manifestation and correlates of parenting styles, and the processes
underlying the benefits of authoritative parenting (see Schwarz et al.,
1985; Darling & Steinberg, 1993; Baumrind, 1991; and Barber, 1996).
For More Information
Barber, B. K. (1996). Parental psychological control: Revisiting a neglected
construct. Child Development, 67(6), 3296-3319.
Baumrind, D. (1989). Rearing competent children. In W. Damon (Ed.), Child
development today and tomorrow (pp. 349-378). San Francisco: Jossey-
Bass.
Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent
competence and substance use. Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56-95.
Chao, R. K. (1994). Beyond parental control and authoritarian parenting
style: Understanding Chinese parenting through the cultural notion of
training. Child Development, 65(4), 1111-1119..
Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting style as context: An integrative
model. Psychological Bulletin, 113(3), 487-496.
Maccoby, E. E., & Martin, J. A. (1983). Socialization in the context of the
family: Parent–child interaction. In P. H. Mussen (Ed.) & E. M. Hetherington
(Vol. Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 4. Socialization, personality,
and social development (4th ed., pp. 1-101). New York: Wiley.
Miller, N. B., Cowan, P. A., Cowan, C. P., & Hetherington, E. M. (1993).
Externalizing in preschoolers and early adolescents: A cross-study replication
of a family model. Developmental Psychology, 29(1), 3-18.
Schwarz, J. C., Barton-Henry, M. L., & Pruzinsky, T. (1985). Assessing child-
rearing behaviors: A comparison of ratings made by mother, father, child,
and sibling on the CRPBI. Child Development, 56(2), 462-479.
Steinberg, L., Darling, N., & Fletcher, A. C. (1995). Authoritative parenting
and adolescent adjustment: An ecological journey. In P. Moen, G. H. Elder,
Jr., & K. Luscher (Eds.), Examining lives in context: Perspectives on the
ecology of human development (pp. 423-466). Washington, DC: American
Psychological Assn.
Steinberg, L., Dornbusch, S. M., & Brown, B. B. (1992). Ethnic differences in
adolescent achievement: An ecological perspective. American Psychologist,
47(6), 723-729.
Weiss, L. H., & Schwarz, J. C. (1996). The relationship between parenting
types and older adolescents’ personality, academic achievement, adjustment,
and substance use. Child Development, 67(5), 2101-2114.
Reprinted with permission from:
The ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
51 Gerty Drive, Champaign, Illinois 61820-7469
http://www.ericeece.org


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