There have been consistent findings to suggest that authoritative parenting is correlated to positive child outcomes. However, many of these studies examined white, middle-class America and may not be generalizable to everyone. Below is a breakdown of parenting styles and the resulting child outcomes in a variety of different contexts.

1 Collectivist versus individualist culture
2 How culture shapes parenting style
3 Parenting styles among other cultures and child outcomes
4 Racial/ethinic/Gender/SES differences
5 References

Collectivist versus Individualist Cultures

Culture shapes people’s values and beliefs. Previous studies have shown that specific attitudes and values are usually different between individualistic and collectivist societies (Triandis, 2001). An individualistic culture tends to give priority to independence and the pursuit of individual achievement. On the other hand, a collectivist culture places more of an emphasis on the individual contributing to the well-being of the family and community (Darling & Steinberg, 1993). As a result, these values and beliefs will likely shape parents and their interaction with their children and their parenting style. In collectivist countries, parents tend to promote values such as helpfulness, conformity, and interdependence within their family (Darling & Steinberg, 1993). Child outcomes will also likely be affected because each culture will have different goals and expectations of their citizens and the children will be socialized under different conditions. Thus, an effective parenting style in the United States, the authoritative parenting style, may not be as effective in other cultures. In the authoritarian parenting style, a clear hierarchy is established within the family and the child’s own needs or wishes are not an emphasis. Individuality amongst the children is not a focus or goal, but respect for parents is. Therefore, according to the outcomes valued in collectivist societies, authoritarian parenting may be more appropriate compared to other parenting styles.

How Culture Shapes Parenting Styles

Families are social groups and will likely be influenced by the context around them. Family relationships and parent-child interactions are each influenced by cultural context (Triandis, 2001). Thus, depending on the culture, there are differences in childrearing practices. Indeed, in one of her early publications on parenting styles, it was Baumrind (1972) who suggested that if parenting behavior is consistent with cultural values, then children will accept it. If certain goals or expectations are preferred more in one culture compared to another, then it seems appropriate that the parent(s) will place more of an emphasis on those particular attributes with their children. Acculturation (the modification of the culture of a group or individual because of contact with a different culture) may also have an effect on the chosen parenting style. In a comparative study which examined American Indian mothers living in the U.S. with those living in India, Jambunathan and Counselman (2002) showed that authoritative parenting was the most common parenting style among Asian Indian mothers who lived in the United States while Asian Indian mothers living in India had more authoritarian styles. Thus, the culture one is in will likely impact the particular type of parenting style that is chosen.

Parenting Styles among Other Cultures and Child Outcomes

In her early work on parenting styles, it has been argued that Baumrind approached her parenting styles and the descriptions behind each of them from an ethnocentric approach (Chao, 1994). In other words, the way individualist define words and attach meaning to them may be different than someone who is from a collectivist culture. For example, authoritarian parents’ might be defined as caring and concerned parents to Asians but might appear controlling to European Americans. Words like “restrictive” or “authoritarian” may not be as relevant for other cultures because parental monitoring and some degrees of strictness could be viewed as signs of parental concern and involvement (Chao, 1994). Similarly, behavioral control tends to be related to positive outcomes for Korean adolescents and they believe this behavior models parental warmth and acceptance. In contrast, behavioral control is often seen as a negative parenting characteristic among European American adolescents (Kim, 2005). To help correct for these discrepancies, Chao (1994) introduced the notion of “training” which includes parental control as well as high degree of parent-child interactions, support, concern and physical proximity. It emphasizes obedience, self-discipline, and the need to do well in school. The notion of training may explain why authoritarian parenting style has a positive influence on Asian children development (Dornbusch, et. al., 1987).

Racial/Ethnic, SES and Gender Differences and its Effects on Child Outcomes in the U.S.

A difference in academic achievement is also seen among minority families in the U.S. Dornbusch, et al. (1987) asked students to score their parents on one of three parenting styles (authoritative, permissive and authoritarian). Asian-American students were much more likely to report that their parents fell under the authoritarian discipline. Yet, despite consistent findings in earlier work which suggested that authoritative parenting was associated with higher academic achievement, the Asian-American students scored highest in GPA. Park and Bauer (2002) also showed that the relationship between authoritative parenting style and academic achievement only applied to European Americans. Hispanics, African-Americans and Asian-Americans showed no such correlation.

The meanings given to parental support also may vary across racial lines. Among Black and White adolescents, there are different meanings given to the amount of parental support, interest and encouragement that they receive (Mboya, 1995). As a result, the effects that various forms of parental engagement have on a child will likely vary depending on their race or ethnicity. In terms of self-concepts, Mboya (1995) showed that Black adolescents have a greater dependency on family interaction than White adolescents.

The potential differences in socio-economic status among these groups and its effects should also be considered. Relationally, lower socioeconomic status (SES) predicts harsh parenting, which contributes to externalizing negative behaviors (Meteyer & Jenkins, 2009). Lower education and lower economic status is also correlated with more authoritarian styles, and it is also possible that the parents in the families have different goals for their children (Darling & Steinberg, 1993). For example, the parents may not value academics as much as authoritative parents and place more emphasis on obedience because they feel that is more important.

It is also interesting to note that even if authoritative parenting is measured in a general enviornment, there are gender differences found on child outcomes. For females, the absence of support tends to be worse (Lease & Dahlbeck, 2009) in behavioral outcomes. For males, though, it is the absence of demandingness that has a more negative effect (Hart, et. al, 2007).


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Chao, R. (1994). Beyond parental control and authotitarian parenting style: Understanding Chinese parenting through the cultural notion of training. Child Development, 65, 1111-1119.
Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting style as context: An integrative model. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 487-496.
Dornbusch, S., Ritter, P., Leiderman, P.H., Roberts, D., & Fraleigh, M. (1987). The relation of parenting style to adolescent school performance. Child Development, 58, 1244-1257.
Hart, J., O'Toole, S., Price-Sharps, J., & Shaffer, T. (2007). The risk and protective factors of violent juvenile offending: An examination of gender differences. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice, 5, 367-384.
Kim, E. (2005). Korean American parental control: Acceptance or rejection? Ethos, 33, 347-366.
Jambunathan, S., & Counselman, K. (2002). Parenting attitudes of Asian Indian mothers living in the United States and in India. Early Child Development and Care, 172, 657-662.
Lease, S., & Dahlbeck, D. (2009). Parental influences, career-decision making attributions and self-efficacy: Differences for men and women? Journal of Career Development, 36, 95-113.
Mboya, M. (1995). A comparitive analysis of the relationship between parenting styles and self-concepts of Black and White high school students. School Psychology International, 16, 19-27.
Meteyer, K.B. & Jenkins, M. (2009). Dyadic parenting and children's externalizing symptoms. Family Relations 58, 289-302.
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Park, H., & Bauer, S. (2002). Parenting practices, ethnicity, socioeconomic status and academic achievement in adolescents. School Psychology International, 23, 386-395.
Triandis, H. (2001). Individualism-collectivism and personality. Journal of Personality, 69, 907-924.