STYLE AND ITS CORRELATES
By Nancy Darling
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.
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).
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.
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).