Parenting Styles and Outcomes for Children


In the last blog post, I covered the basics of each parenting style.

Just to review:

Permissive parents are warm and responsive to their children, but they place few demands on the child's behavior.

Neglectful parents are neither responsive to or demanding of their children. Children are essentially left to raise themselves.

Authoritarian parents place many demands on their children, but they are not very warm or responsive to them. A typical authoritarian parents answers, "Because I said so."

Authoritative parents have both high expectations and are warm/responsive to their children.

There is a great deal of research out there about each parenting style and how it impacts children. There are well-established relationships between parenting style and various psychological, social, and physical outcomes for children, with the best overall outcomes occurring for children of authoritative parents. Here is a (non-exhaustive) summary:

Parenting Style and Eating Habits

  • Daughters of permissive, authoritarian, or neglectful mothers are less satisfied with their bodies, more driven to be thin, and more likely to have unhealthy eating habits than the daughters of authoritative mothers

  • Daughters of authoritarian mothers have an increased risk for the development of bulimia

  • Children of permissive fathers have lower levels of food intake monitoring, as well as a higher incidence of obesity

  • Children of authoritative parents have the best chance of successfully reaching and maintaining a healthy weight

Parenting Style, Depression, and Anxiety

  • Children of permissive and authoritarian parents have higher levels of depression, anxiety, and internal distress

  • Children of permissive and authoritarian parents have lower levels of frustration tolerance

  • Children of authoritative parents show the lowest levels of depression, anxiety, and internal distress

Parenting Style, Antisocial Behavior, and Prosocial Behavior

  • Children of authoritarian mothers show more physical aggression

  • Sons of permissive parents have a higher frequency of antisocial behavior

  • Daughters of authoritative parents are more likely to discuss their whereabouts and activities with their parents

  • Children of authoritative mothers show more prosocial behavior in the preschool years

  • Children of authoritative parents are more sympathetic to others

  • Children of authoritative parents show less antisocial behavior and more prosocial behavior

Parenting style, Adjustment, Achievement, and Functioning

  • Children of authoritative parents have better self-regulation skills

  • Children of authoritative parents have better emotional adjustment

  • Maternal empathy and paternal consistency are the best predictors of healthy overall adjustment and functioning in children and adolescents

  • Socially competent, high achieving males emphasize their fathers’ encouragement and high expectations, both hallmarks of authoritative parenting, as significant contributors to their success

  • Authoritative parenting is related to higher life-satisfaction

Parenting Style and Self-Esteem

  • Parenting style is one of the best predictors of self-esteem during adolescence

  • Authoritarian parenting is associated with lower self-esteem in children

  • Authoritative parenting is associated with higher self-esteem in children

  • Having one authoritative parent has been found to be positively associated with self-esteem

  • Having two authoritative parents makes this association even stronger

Not only is adjustment best in children from authoritative homes, the positive impact of authoritative parenting on life adjustment continues into middle and late adulthood. Even after controlling for marital status, age, education, and income, adults who recall their parents as being authoritative are the most well-adjusted.

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