A new study investigated the relationships between parenting styles, parent-child relationship characteristics, and mediator characteristics of parents and children. The study found that parenting styles were related to parent-child relationship characteristics such as warmth and authoritarianism, and how those relationships were related to the mediator-spouse relationship quality. Parenting styles also seemed to affect the beliefs about parent-child relationship qualities and the mediator-spouse relationship quality. Finally, the study looked at how these relationships were related to self-esteem, academic functioning, socialization, and school dropout.
Here’s a look at some of the key findings from the study. Overall, “adults who expressed greater authoritarian parenting styles were also characterized by greater self-scrutinizing tendencies and negative self-beliefs; conversely, those who expressed less authoritarian parenting styles were less self-scrutinizing but more highly authoritarian.” This makes sense, because those with harsh parenting styles are generally more rigid and self-critical. These kids tend to be less happy in their relationships, and they also seem to have lower self-esteem. Kids with authoritative parenting styles also had higher self-esteem, but only when they felt that they had control over their environments. However, when they felt they could control their environments, they had lower self-esteem.
These researchers noted a “compositive relationship” between parenting styles and child outcomes. They concluded “that these patterns of parenting may affect children’s adjustment and may explain why some children display positive adjustment problems and others display negative adjustment problems. What remains unclear is whether these patterns of parenting are associated with difficulties in adjustment or whether children whose parents style is conducive are happier and healthier.” This seems to make sense intuitively, but researchers have yet to draw any firm conclusions.
Further analysis indicates that the results are not all that random. Parenting styles seem to be related to specific aspects of child behavior. For instance, some parents are very compassionate and perceptive. These parents are helpful, and they teach their children what it means to be a good person. Other parents are harsh, interventionist, and don’t really listen to their children.
In one study, parents were asked about their parenting styles. The results showed that parental control was related to less negative behavior in children. Interestingly, however, the study also indicated that parents who were authoritarian and harsh were the ones who did not have a high level of parental control. The interesting pattern here is that the children who have parental control are typically happy, well adjusted, caring, and helpful people. But these children seem to be on the fringes of the parenting styles spectrum. They also exhibit a higher degree of external aggression as well.
Research on parenting styles has also shown connections between this research and behavior problems later in life. A child who is authoritative and has good parental control is more likely to be calm and considerate than one who exhibits high levels of external aggression and lack of social skills. It seems that there are some personality characteristics that influence parenting styles–and behavior problems. Those are especially present if the child has other disorders or is hyperactive.
There is also some evidence that suggests there are certain parenting styles that are protective of a child’s health. Authoritarian parenting styles may discourage smoking and drinking. Less authoritarian parenting styles encourage healthy behaviors such as exercise and a balanced diet. Those with a more balanced parenting style are healthier and have fewer behavior problems.
Children who have authoritative parenting styles tend to do well socially, have high self-esteem, and tend to get good grades. Authoritative parents tend to raise intelligent, sensitive kids. Parents with more authoritative parenting styles also tend to raise healthy, well-adjusted kids. It would seem that the effects of these parenting styles may be related to the children’s intelligence, social skills, academic performance, and self-esteem. However, all of this seems to be related to a relatively small sample size.