Erlanger A. Turner Ph.D.

The Race to Good Health

Parenting

Parenting Effects on Children: What Is Your Parenting Style?

A study finds cultural differences in parenting.

Posted Feb 17, 2018

bbernard/Shutterstock
Source: bbernard/Shutterstock

Research has explored the influence of parenting on a number of outcomes for children, including behavior problems, mood difficulties, and academic success. In general, studies find that parenting characterized by warmth, nurturance, and limit setting is helpful in promoting positive outcomes for youth. However, some have questioned whether ethnic or cultural differences in parenting contribute to potential influences on these outcomes.

What are parenting styles?

Parenting styles represent two dimensions of parenting characteristics that include aspects of demandingness and responsiveness. Researchers have identified four parenting styles as described below (e.g., Pinquart & Kauser, 2018;Turner, Chandler, & Heffer, 2009).

1. Authoritative parenting is characterized by high levels of demandingness and high levels of responsiveness. This involves high levels of nurturance, involvement, sensitivity, reasoning, and encouragement of autonomy.

2. Authoritarian parenting is characterized by high levels of demandingness and low levels of responsiveness. Parents characterized as authoritarian exhibit highly directive behaviors, high levels of restriction, and power-asserting behaviors.

3. Permissive parenting is characterized by low levels of demandingness and high levels of responsiveness. Permissive parenting involves making few demands, exhibiting non-controlling behaviors, and using minimal punishment.

4. Neglectful parenting is characterized by low levels of demandingness and low levels of responsiveness. These parents lack involvement in making demands on their child and are not attentive to the child’s needs.

Overall, an authoritative parenting style emphasizing both responsiveness and demandingness appears superior in fostering higher academic performance (Turner et al., 2009) and less negative psychological outcomes (Pinquart & Kauser, 2018). For decades, the field has debated if these findings are consistent across ethnic and cultural groups. Based on the research, we know that many families from non-white or European-American backgrounds tend to exhibit higher levels of authoritarian parenting — exhibiting highly directive and power-asserting behaviors (Turner et al., 2009). However, new research highlights data that provides an additional explanation.

Research and cultural differences in parenting

A new study published in the journal Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology (Pinquart & Kauser, 2018) examined whether associations of parenting styles with internalizing problems (e.g., anxiety), externalizing problems (e.g., aggression), and academic achievement varied between ethnic and cultural groups. Given the research to date, the authors were interested in better understanding if Baumrind’s parenting styles (as described above) may or may not be culturally relevant. The following results were described in the study:

  • Authoritative parenting was associated with fewer internalizing and externalizing problems, as well as better academic performance in all four ethnic groups (i.e., European American, African American, Hispanic/Latino, and Asian American).
  • Associations of authoritative parenting with academic achievement were stronger in non-Hispanic, White families than in families from Asian-American backgrounds.
  • While authoritarian parenting (i.e., highly directive and power-asserting behaviors) was associated with more internalizing and externalizing problems and poorer academic performance of non-Hispanic, White, and Asian children, for Hispanic/Latino children, an association was only found with regard to internalizing and externalizing problems.
  • No significant associations of authoritarian parenting with the three child outcomes (internalizing and externalizing problems; academic performance) were observed in children with an African ethnic background. Implying that when parents exhibit this parenting style, few negative outcomes are observed.
  • Finally, neglectful parenting was associated with negative child outcomes in all compared ethnic groups, and the size of this association did not differ by ethnicity.

This research appears to support the notion consistent with decades of data that authoritative parenting — characterized by high levels of nurturance, involvement, and reasoning — is predictive of positive outcomes for youth. Furthermore, contrary to research, authoritarian parenting traits among African-American parents are not associated with the negative outcomes that are typically observed among other groups.

Copyright 2018 Erlanger A. Turner, Ph.D.

References

Pinquart, M., & Kauser, R. (2018). Do the associations of parenting styles with behavior problems and academic achievement vary by culture? Results from a meta-analysis. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 24(1), 75-100.

Turner, E. A., Chandler, M., & Heffer, R. W. (2009). The influence of parenting styles, achievement motivation, and self-efficacy on academic performance in college students. Journal of College Student Development, 50(3), 337-346.