Parenting Styles and Culture
Given the diverse cultures that can shape parenting behavior, some basic assumptions regarding the links between parenting styles and developmental outcomes may not be universal. Much research has been conducted on the different parenting styles across cultures. There are also many myths about which parenting style is the best or the most beneficial to the social development of children. Reviewing past literature on this subject matter reveals that the authoritarian parenting style produced more overt aggression and many more social interaction difficulties among young children.
Recent research point to the theory that the best parenting style is dictated by the culture in which it is practiced. A study by Whaley (2000) states that although a positive correlation between the use of physical discipline (i. e. , pking) and disruptive disorders in children is found in studies of European American families, research on African American families has found a negative association or none at all. Moreover, a review of the literature indicates that the positive association between pking and child behavior problems is bidirectional for White families, whereas it is the product of reverse causation (i. . , negative child behaviors result in pking) in Black families. The implications of these sociocultural differences for parent training programs and the family study of disruptive behaviors are discussed. This study establishes that the positive correlation between the use of physical discipline and disruptive disorders in children found in research on European American families does not appear to be generalizable to African American families. Black parents’ use of pking is more a consequence than a cause of problem behaviors in children.
Moreover, parents in the African American community, especially in low-income urban areas, may use authoritarian methods in attempts to protect their children from noxious social environments. Awareness of sociocultural differences in the relationship between parenting practices and developmental outcomes would put Black parents’ behavior in proper perspective, as well as encourage interventions and policies that address community-level problems to ensure healthy child development in high-risk environments.
On the one hand, these controlling methods of parenting may be effective in reducing undesirable or high-risk behaviors of Black children and adolescents. On the other hand, they may place African American children at risk for other problems, such as academic failure and child abuse. Thus an appreciation of sociocultural differences in parenting styles and related outcomes should not lead to unconditional acceptance of punitive behaviors because of their cultural significance. Alternative strategies that are culturally compatible, such as response cost, may be useful if the motivation is child oriented and not parent oriented.
Sensitivity to differences in parenting styles across cultures simply means that the functional significance of pking should be explored, and the ecological context in which families live should be taken into consideration in theory, research, and practice devoted to understanding environmental influences on child development. Research conducted by Hart and colleagues (1998) shows that maternal and paternal parenting styles and marital interactions are linked to childhood aggressive behavior.
This study included an ethnic Russian sample of 207 families of nursery-school-age children. Results corroborated and extended findings from Western samples. Maternal and paternal coercion, lack of responsiveness, and psychological control (for mothers only) were significantly correlated with children’s overt aggression with peers. Less responsiveness (for mothers and fathers) and maternal coercion positively correlated with relational aggression. Some of these associations differed for boys versus girls.
Marital conflict was also linked to more overt and relational aggression for boys. When entered into the same statistical model, more marital conflict (for boys only), more maternal coercion, and less paternal responsiveness were found to be the most important contributors to overt and relational aggression in younger Russian children. Similar to Western findings, the results of this research supports the idea that the absence of positive parenting is as important in the development of childhood behavior problems directed toward peers as is the presence of negative parenting.
In terms of the development of aggression, lack of Russian paternal responsiveness and more maternal coercion remained significant contributors to overt and relational aggression, regardless of which other parenting style or marital hostility variables that they were pitted against in the regressions. Although this supports prior work concerning relationships between maternal coercion and aggression, it highlights the importance of paternal responsiveness that involves positive, playful, and engaging interactions in children’s social development.
It is interesting that only maternal (and not paternal) psychological control was found to significantly correlate with Russian preschoolers’ overt aggression. However, when pitted against the effects of other predictors in the regression model, its contribution was reduced to a marginal trend. Although these findings appear to suggest that psychological control may not be as powerfully related to aggressive outcomes in young Russian children, firm conclusions should be reserved for future researchers using a variety of methodological approaches.
A study conducted by Chen and colleagues (2000) included a sample of children, initially 12 years old, in the People’s Republic of China who participated in a 2-year longitudinal study. Data on parental warmth, control, and indulgence were collected from children’s self-reports. Information concerning social, academic, and psychological adjustment was obtained from multiple sources. The results indicated that parenting styles might be a function of child gender and change with age.
Regression analyses revealed that parenting styles of fathers and mothers predicted different outcomes. Whereas maternal warmth had significant contributions to the prediction of emotional adjustment, paternal warmth significantly predicted later social and school achievement. It was also found that paternal, but not maternal, indulgence significantly predicted children’s adjustment difficulties. The contributions of the parenting variables might be moderated by the child’s initial conditions.
Since the implementation of the one-child-per-family policy, maintaining the balance between expressing love and affection and imposing requirements and limits on the child has been a significant challenge to Chinese parents. Many parents in China are concerned about whether their child is indulged or spoiled because they may give too much attention and privilege to the child. Does parental indulgence predict children’s problems? An examination of this issue would not only help us understand the meaning and significance of the parenting dimension, but would also have practical implications for childrearing in China.
The results of this study indicated that paternal indulgence had significant and negative contributions to the prediction of later leadership, social competence, and academic achievement. Furthermore, paternal indulgence significantly and positively predicted later aggressive-disruptive behaviors. Thus, children who had indulgent fathers tended to be less competent and more maladjusted in both social and academic areas than other children. Maternal indulgence, in general, was not significantly associated with children’s adjustment outcomes.
Two possible explanations may be offered. First, because parental indulgence is likely to result in a lack of social assertiveness and poor skills in self-control and self-regulation, which are important for social interactions and school performance, the effect of indulgence may be more salient on social and school adjustment than on psychological well-being. Fathers may focus mainly on children’s social functioning and school achievement, whereas mothers may be more sensitive to the children’s emotional adjustment.
The review of literature on the different parenting styles and child development in different cultures support the current theory which states there is no particular parenting that is best over all others. There are, however, parenting styles that are more suitable to different cultures. Furthermore, it is becoming more clear and evident that not only culture determines which parenting style is best for children. Many other factors, such as social and economic circumstances play a significant role in this matter as well. References Chen X. , Li D. , Liu M. (2000).
Parental warmth, control and indulgence and their relations to adjustment in Chinese children: a longitudinal study. Journal of Family Psychology 14(3) pp. 401-419 Hart C. , McNeilly-Choque M. K. , Nelson D. A. , Olsen S. F. , Robinson C. C. (1998). Overt and relational aggression in Russian nursery-school-age children: parental style and marital linkages. Developmental Psychology 34(4) pp. 687-697 Whaley A. L. (2000). Sociocultural differences in the developmental consequences of the use of physical discipline during childhood for African-Americans. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology 6(1) pp. 5-12