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Parenting Styles

Cultural And Ethnic Variations In Parenting Styles

Laurence Steinberg (2001) has asserted that the benefits of authoritative parenting in childhood and adolescence "transcend the boundaries of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and household composition" (p. 12) and that research from around the world also demonstrates the beneficial effects of authoritative parenting. Numerous studies have examined parenting in a very diverse set of countries with different value systems using measures of parenting derived from Baumrind's work. These studies have shown that authoritative parenting is associated with better psychosocial development and mental health across cultures.

Research has suggested that authoritative parenting is more prevalent in European-American parents than in ethnic minority parents and that African-American and Asian-American parents are more authoritarian in their parenting practices than are white parents. Some researchers have suggested that authoritarian parenting may have positive effects on ethnic minority children's psychosocial adjustment and, in particular, academic achievement. In reviewing the available research, Steinberg (2001) has concluded that although African-American and Asian-American children are not as negatively affected by authoritarian parenting as are children from other ethnic groups, authoritarian parenting is not associated overall with positive adjustment. Authoritative parenting appears to confer some benefits in protecting Asian-American and black adolescents from engaging in deviant behavior and in promoting psychosocial development. However, authoritative parenting is not clearly associated with better academic achievement among ethnic minority youths.

Studies suggest that the parenting styles of European Americans differ from those of African Americans and Asian Americans. However, more research is needed to understand how culture and ethnicity interact with situational demands and the characteristics of individual children. TODD GIPSTEIN/CORBIS

Ruth Chao (1994) has argued that the authoritarian parenting style does not capture the essence of Chinese (and more broadly, Asian) parenting and that the control and restrictiveness that are seen as characteristic of Chinese families reflect a different set of underlying beliefs than for European-American parents. For many white families, strictness is located in Protestant Christian beliefs, whereas for Chinese parents, strictness is rooted in a notion of training (chiao shun and guan) that reflects role relationships defined by Confucianism. The goal is to assure harmonious family relationships rather than to dominate or control the child. Therefore, she argues that parenting styles developed on North American samples cannot be simply translated to other cultures, but instead must reflect their sociocultural contexts.

Concerns about the generalizability of parenting styles across diverse ethnic and cultural contexts, as well as a more general movement towards understanding the dimensions that underlie different parenting styles, has lead to a great deal of research that has focused on disaggregating Baumrind's parenting styles into their component parts. The goal of this research is to better understand how different parenting processes and behaviors interact to affect various child outcomes in different social contexts. Later theorizing and research have focused on separating parenting styles from parenting practices and differentiating forms of parental control.

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Marriage and Family EncyclopediaPregnancy & ParenthoodParenting Styles - Parenting Styles, Cultural And Ethnic Variations In Parenting Styles, Differentiating Parenting Styles And Parenting Practices