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Study: This Parenting Style Leads to Delinquent Kids

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Researchers say that when parents are highly controlling and expect kids to follow their rules without question, children are more likely to be disrespectful and delinquent.

One of the main findings of this study, published in the February issue of the Journal of Adolescence, is that kids who trust their parents and see them as legitimate authority figures are less likely to engage in delinquent behavior. Researchers also found that a child’s perception of her parents’ authority depends on the parenting style Mom and Dad use.

The study outlined three main parenting styles:

Authoritative parents are demanding and controlling, but also receptive to their children’s needs. These parents aim to establish two-way communication with their kids to explain why they’ve established rules and to hear their children’s opinions about those rules.

Authoritarian parents are demanding and highly controlling. They don’t explain their reasons for setting rules, and are not open to hearing their kid’s opinions about the rules. These parents have a “my way or the highway” approach, and expect rules to be followed without question.

Permissive parents are not demanding or controlling. These parents are attentive to their children’s needs, but set few boundaries, and any rules they make are rarely enforced.

The researchers analyzed survey responses from about 600 middle- and high-school students and found that an authoritarian parenting style led kids to lack respect for their parents’ authority. These kids were more likely than others in the study to engage in delinquent behaviors such as theft or underage drinking. The authoritative style was the most successful; kids were more likely to listen to their parents, and were less likely to be delinquent. Interestingly, the children of permissive parents had less respect for their parents, but were not more or less likely to be delinquent.

Readers, do these findings surprise you? How would you describe your parenting style?

Image: Daughter and mom via Shutterstock.

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