Family Processes

Parenting. Much has been written regarding the effect of parenting style on child development, how parental challenges and tasks change with maturation of the child, and how parenting style varies by ethnicity, which in turn influences the impact of parenting style on outcome. Baumrind (1971) proposed the prevailing conceptual framework, which applies throughout childhood and has facilitated understanding of the effect of three different styles of parenting: permissive (warm and undemanding), authoritarian (cold and demanding), and authoritative (warm and demanding).

Authoritative parenting is associated with social responsibility and self-assertion among children (Dornbusch et al., 1985) and lower levels of adolescent risk behavior and higher levels of achievement during the adolescent years (Steinberg et al., 1989). Harsh, punitive disciplinary practices are thought to feed into the cycle of anger and aggressive behavior developed by some children and youth (Petit, 1997). Patterson’s theory of the socialization of aggression, well supported by decades of research, argues that aggressive children are trained to be competitive and parents are trained to encourage their competitiveness (Patterson, 1995; Patterson et al., 1991, 1992).

While a substantial observational and intervention literature supports this general framework, important variations in these elements of parenting are manifested in different cultural contexts (Steinberg et al., 1992; Wu et al., 2003). For example, in the context of Chinese immigrant families, Chao (1994) argues that parental control efforts are related to the goals of training children to have harmonious relations with others, which is considered essential to maintain the integrity of the family. In the context of black families, Brody et al. (1998) argue for the concept of “no-nonsense” parenting, which is thought to protect youths from dangerous surroundings.

Although these basic approaches to parenting appear to apply throughout a child’s life course, the tasks facing parents change as the child develops, and thus parenting must change. For example, beyond tending to the infant’s biological needs, the task for the parent of infants and young toddlers is the establishment of secure attachments (Rutter, 1998). Later in childhood and adolescence, parental monitoring (knowledge of the child’s activities and friends) assumes greater importance, along with the other tasks of employing discipline for antisocial behavior, employing effective problem-solving skills, and supporting the development of prosocial skills (Patterson, 1982; Patterson and Stouthamer-Loeber, 1984).

There is some evidence that religiosity among adolescents contributes to lower rates of violence, substance abuse, and emotional distress; it has also been related to more health-promoting behavior, such as proper nutrition, exercise, later onset of sexual intercourse, increased academic competence, and higher levels of life satisfaction (Resnick et al., 1997; Wallace and Forman, 1998; Wallace et al., 2003; Barnes et al., 2000). It is unclear to what extent these effects are related

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement