Parenting Styles

Parenting Styles

Many psychologists have been concerned about the relationships between parenting styles and the personality development of the child. What types of parental behavior are connected with variables such as self-esteem, achievement motivation, and independence in children? Diana Baumrind (1973) has been particularly interested in the connections between parental behavior and the development of instrumental competence in their children. (Instrumental competence refers to the ability to manipulate the environment to achieve one’s goals.) Baumrind has focused largely on four aspects of parental behavior: (1) strictness; (2) demands for the child to achieve intellectual, emotional, and social maturity; (3) communication ability; and (4) warmth and involvement. She labeled the three parenting styles the authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive styles. Other researchers also speak of the uninvolved style. These four styles are defined in the following ways:

1 Authoritative parents. The parents of the most competent children rate high in all four areas of behavior. They are strict (restrictive) and demand mature behavior. But they temper their strictness with desire to reason with their children and with love and support (Galambos et al., 2003). They expect much, but they explain why and offer help. Baumrind labeled these parents authoritative parents to suggest that they know what they want but are also loving and respectful to their children.

2 Authoritarian parents. authoritarian parents view obedience as a virtue for its own sake. They have strict guidelines about what is right and wrong, and they demand that their children stick to them. Both authoritative and authoritarian parents have strict standards, but authoritative parents explain their demands and are supportive, whereas authoritarian parents rely on force and communicate poorly with their children. Authoritarian parents do not respect their children’s points of view, and they may be cold and rejecting. When children ask them why they should do this or that, authoritarian parents often answer, “Because I say so!”

3 Permissive parents. Permissiveparents are generally easygoing with their children. As a result, the children do pretty much what the children want. Permissive parents are warm and supportive, but poor at communicating.

4 Uninvolved parents. Uninvolvedparents tend to leave their children on their own. They make few demands and show little warmth or encouragement.

  Research evidence shows that the children of warm parents are more likely to be socially and emotionally welladjusted. They are also more likely to internalize moralstandards—that is, to develop a conscience (Grusec, 2002; Rudy & Grusec, 2001).

  Strictness seems to payoff, provided it is tempered with reason and warmth. Children of authoritative parents have the greatest self-reliance, self-esteem, social competence, and achievement motivation (Galambos et al., 2003; Grusec, 2002; Kim & Rohner, 2002). Children of authoritarian parents are often withdrawn or aggressive and usually do not do as well in school as children of authoritative parents (Kim & Rohner, 2002; Steinberg, 2001). Children of permissive parents seem to be less mature. They are often impulsive, moody, and aggressive. In adolescence, lack of parental monitoring is often linked to delinquency and poor academic performance. Children of uninvolved parents tend to obtain poorer grades than children whose parents make demands on them. The children of uninvolved parents also tend to be more likely to hang out with crowds who “party” a good deal and use drugs (Durbin et al., 1993). The message? Simple enough: Children profit when parents make reasonable demands, show warmth and encouragement, and spend time with them.