Controlling parents are more likely to raise children who are delinquent, finds a new study. According to research from the University of New Hampshire, there is a difference between being authoritative and authoritarian. Children don't trust controlling, authoritarian parents and are more likely to view moms and dads who control as not legitimate.
The research is the first to look at how parenting style affects adolescent behavior.
Rick Trinkner, a doctoral candidate at UNH who led the study said in press release from the University of New Hampshire, “When children consider their parents to be legitimate authority figures, they trust the parent and feel they have an obligation to do what their parents tell them to do. This is an important attribute for any authority figure to possess, as the parent does not have to rely on a system of rewards and punishments to control behavior, and the child is more likely to follow the rules when the parent is not physically present.”
The researchers used data from the ongoing New Hampshire Youth Study that is examining factors that contribute to juvenile delinquency.
The report, published in the February issue of the Journal of Adolescence, includes information obtained over an 18-month period, beginning in the fall of 2007.
Trinkner explains little is known about why some parenting styles are more effective than others; with the exception of understanding permissive parenting is least desirable.
For this study, the researchers looked at three types of parenting styles – permissive, authoritarian and authoritative.
The study found authoritative parents are demanding and controlling, but also warm and receptive to their children’s needs. They explain why they’ve set rules and tend to have open communication with children. Parents who are authoritative raise self-reliant, content children who have self-control.
In comparison, authoritarian parents are detached and unreceptive to their children’s needs. They set rules without explanation and expect them to be obeyed. Their children are withdrawn, distrustful and malcontent.
Permissive parents don’t set boundaries, but are receptive to their children’s needs. The result is children who are the least self-reliant and self-controlled.
Trinker explains, “Authoritarian parents have the opposite effect in that they actually reduce the likelihood of their children perceiving their authority as legitimate. Adolescents from authoritarian parents are more likely to resist their parents’ attempts at socialization."
The researchers found children of permissive parents aren’t any more or less likely to be delinquent, but they don’t have any parental respect.
Trinker says it’s about legitimacy. Children who view their parents as legitimate authoritative figures are more willing to follow the rules. Controlling parents, however, have the opposite effect on their children and are more likely to raise juvenile delinquents.
Journal of Adolescence
“Don't trust anyone over 30: Parental legitimacy as a mediator between parenting style and changes in delinquent behavior over time”
Rick Trinkner et al.