Linking gender differences in parenting to a typology of family parenting styles and adolescent developmental outcomes

Gordon, Leslie
Major Professor
Ronald L. Simons
Danny R. Hoyt
Committee Member
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This dissertation used data from a sample of 451 families living in Central Iowa to address four research questions. The first research question addressed gender differences in insight regarding one's own parenting practices. Results provided evidence that neither mothers nor fathers have a great deal of insight in this area. The second research question focused on how mothers and fathers differ in their levels of various parenting behaviors. Results showed that mothers engage in more child monitoring. Mixed results for warmth and consistent discipline precluded drawing any conclusions regarding mother-father differences. Next, I focused on the ways in which mothers and fathers differ with regard to parenting style. Mothers were more likely than fathers to exhibit authoritative parenting. Both parents and children agreed that there is very little authoritarian parenting is rare, but that an indulgent style is very common. The third research question focused on ways in which mothers' and fathers' parenting styles combine to form family parenting styles. Observers were more likely to categorize both parents as authoritative than was the case for parents' self-report or child reports. Over one-third of children reported that they had two indulgent parents and zero reported that they had two authoritarian parents. Only 1% of parents' self-reports indicated that there were two authoritarian parents in the household. While the majority of families could be classified by using only the four Maccoby and Martin (1983) types, there was a significant minority that could not be classified, regardless of reporter. By including all of the most commonly occurring family parenting styles, the proportion of families included increased dramatically for each reporter. Finally, family parenting styles were used to predict child adjustment (e.g., delinquency, depression, school commitment). Consistent with previous research, authoritative parenting was associated with the most positive child outcomes. In the absence of two authoritative parents, having one authoritative parent paired with a non-authoritative parent produced better outcomes than combinations without an authoritative parent. Uninvolved parenting, especially on the part of mothers, was associated with the most negative child outcomes.