Parenting Styles and Child Outcomes

in Multiple Contexts: Implications for Practice

Parenting styles and their child outcomes have been studied for several decades. On the home page, you will see a brief description of the four parenting styles, the variations seen in child outcomes within the research, and juvenile delinquency and implications for practice is also highlighted. Within these headings are links to individual pages which provide more in-depth information. Specifically, the four parenting style pages will expand on child outcomes predicted by each individual parenting style and the child outcomes will also be looked at in different contexts. Finally, the social problem of juvenile delinquency will be put under a microscope and implications for practice will be designed based on Parenting Styles research.

1 Parenting styles defined
2 Permissive Style
3 Authoritarian Style
4 Indifferent/Neglectful Style
5 Authoritative Style
6 Parenting styles and Child Outcomes in different contexts
7 Juvenile Delinquency
8 Implications
9 References

Parenting Styles Defined

Parenting_style3.jpgIn the mid-1960's, Diana Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist, published ground breaking research defining parenting style typologies. Baumrind identified two parenting dimensions that are believed to be associated with positive child outcomes - responsiveness and demandingness (Baumrind, 1991). Parental responsiveness, also known as parental warmth, refers to the quality of interaction between parent and child. On the other hand, demandingness refers to the level of behavioral expectations expressed by the parent (Carlo et. al., 2007). This research has come to be viewed as the road map to positive parenting strategies. Baumrind initially identified three styles of parenting; permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative, psychologists Maccoby and Martin (1983) later added a fourth style of indifferent/neglectful. Linked is a video that summarizes the four parenting styles.

Permissive Style

The permissive parent interacts with their child in a non-punitive manner, allowing the child to make decisions on their own without concern for limitations or consequences. This style is characterized by low demandingness with high responsiveness (Pellerin, 2005). The permissive parent is typically child-centered providing a large amount of communication and positive feedback, and encouraging development of self-enhancing attributes (Aunola et. al., 2000). However, these children tend to have negative behavioral outcomes because of a lack of set limits or expectations.

Authoritarian Style

The authoritarian parent, on the other hand, feels the need to have total control over all aspects of their child's development. The authoritarian parent is characterized by high demandingness with low responsiveness (Pellerin, 2005). This parenting style places high demands on behavior and expectations with virtually no regard for child input. As a result, the authoritarian rearing style is not necessarily conducive to positive child outcomes.

Indifferent/Neglectful Style

This style of parenting is characterized by lack of parenting and/or sporadic parenting. The neglectful parent is unaware or indifferent to their child's developmental needs, they are inconsistent with emotion, affection, and discipline, and range from not reacting at all to their child's behavior to tremendous overreaction (Pellerin, 2005). Neglectful parents do not try to control their children nor do they positively respond to them; they take a hands off approach to their role as parent. Developmental trajectories indicate that positive parental attachment is the strongest predictor of positive adult outcomes. That in mind, children of neglectful parents have been shown to have the worst outcomes of all parenting styles.

Authoritative Style

The authoritative parenting style is, generally, the most desirable parenting style to aspire to and is believed to have a strong connection to positive parental attachment. This style is characterized by high demandingness but high responsiveness, as well. The authoritative parent places high expectations on their child but provides significant positive support and feedback. This parenting style is tremendously child-centered with parents communicating positive attitudes toward their children; encouraging the development of self-enhancing attributes (Meteyer & Jenkins, 2009). This style is considered to provide the most favorable adult outcomes especially when associated with dyadic parenting (Meteyer & Jenkins, 2009).

Parenting Styles and Child Outcomes in Different Contexts

Authoritative parenting does generally produce positive child outcomes. However, many of the studies examined included white, middle-class America and may not be generalizable to everyone. Cross-culturally, these findings are not as significant and parenting styles reminiscent of the authoritarian style have shown to be effective amongst those cultures (Darling & Steinberg, 1993). Even within individualist cultures like the United States, the authoritative parenting style can have different effects depending on the race or ethnicity of the child and the socio-economic status of the child’s family. There are also different effects seen for the sexes.

Parenting Styles and Delinquency

Juvenile delinquency is defined as a major or minor lawbreaking by an individual under the age of 18 (Berger, 2000). There are several social factors that contribute to the etiology of juvenile delinquency. One of the major factors contributing to the risk of delinquent behavior is the family (Mmari, Blum, & Tuefel-Shone, 2010).


While research on parenting styles has grown exponentially over the past few decades it is still in need of refinement. Current research typically measures only select variables and populations in connection with parenting styles. Future research should include a more diverse cross-section of variables and populations in order to gain greater insight for intervention and achievement strategies. Additionally, research should consider transactional effects across cultures, generations, race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc. creating a more accurately inclusive picture relating to cause and effect.
The parenting styles research could also be applied to practice. Specifically, it could be used to help play a part in preventing juvenile delinquency.


Aunola, K., Stattin, H., & Nurmi, J.E., (2000). Parenting styles and adolescents' achievement strategies. Journal of Adolescents, 23, 205-222.
Baumrind, D., 1991. Parenting styles and adolescent development. In: Brooks-Gunn, J., Lerner, R., Peterson, A.C. (Eds.), The Encyclopedia of Adolescence. Garland, New York.
Berger, K. S. (2000). The developing person through childhood and adolescence. New York: Worth Publishers.
Carlo, G., McGinley, M., Hayes, R., Batenhorst, C., Wilkinson, J. (2007). Parenting style or practices? Parenting, sympathy, and prosocial behaviors among adolescents. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 168, 147-176.
Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting style as context: An integrative model. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 487-496.
Maccoby, EE and Martin, JA. (1983). Socialization in the context of the family: Parent– child interaction. In P Mussen and EM Hetherington, editors, Handbook of Child Psychology, volume IV: Socialization, personality, and social development, chapter 1, pages 1–101. New York: Wiley, 4th edition ISBN 978-0471090656
Hanmer, C. (2006). How the science of parenting hurts parents picture. Retrieved November 25, 2010, from: http://www.canadianfamily.ca/articles/article/how-science-of-parenting-hurts-parents/.
Meteyer, K.B. & Jenkins, M. (2009). Dyadic parenting and children's externalizing symptoms. Family Relations, 58, 289-302.
Mmari, N.K., Blum, W.R., & Teufel-Shone, N. (2010). What increase risk and protection for delinquent behaviors among American India youth? Findings from three tribal communities. Youth & Society, 41, 382-413.
Pellerin, L.A. (2005). Applying Baumrind's parenting typology to high schools: toward a middle-range theory of authoritative socialization. Social Science Research, 34, 283-303.
Saucedo, M. (2010). Understanding your parenting style can help produce healthier kids picture. Retrieved November 21, 2010, from: http://www.whatsupblog.com/?p=8.
Tonks, R. G. (2010). Parenting styles chart. Retrieved November 21, 2010, from: http://tonks.disted.camosun.bc.ca/courses/psyc130/Devel/develop2.htm.
(Producer). (2010, March 11) Dr Michael Rich - Parenting Styles. [interview]. Retrieved May 23, 2007, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZTOICxSvwx0