Psychological Bulletin 1993. Vol. 113. No. 3, 487-496
Copyright 1993 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 0033-2909/93/S3.00
Parenting Style as Context: An Integrative Model
Nancy Darling and Laurence Steinberg
Despite broad consensus about the effects of parenting practices on child development, many questions about the construct parenting style remain unanswered. Particularly pressing issues are the variability in the effects of parenting style as a function of the child's cultural background, the processes through which parenting style influences the child's development, and the operationalization of parenting style. Drawing on historical review, the authors present a model that integrates two traditions in socialization research, the study of specific parenting practices and the study of global parent characteristics. They propose that parenting style is best conceptualized as a context that moderates the influence of specific parenting practices on the child. It is argued that only by maintaining the distinction between parenting style and parenting practice can researchers address questions concerning socialization processes.
During the past 25 years, research based on Baumrind's conceptualization of parenting style has produced a remarkably consistent picture of the type of parenting conducive to the successful socialization of children into the dominant culture of the United States. Authoritativeness—a constellation of parent attributes that includes emotional support, high standards, appropriate autonomy granting, and clear, bidirectional communication—has been shown to help children and adolescents develop an instrumental competence characterized by the balancing of societal and individual needs and responsibilities. Among the indicators of instrumental competence are responsible independence, cooperation with adults and peers, psychosocial maturity, and academic success (for reviews, see Baumrind, 1989,199 la). This work on authoritativeness and its beneficial effects builds on half a century of research on parenting and parenting style. Yet, despite some impressive consistencies in the socialization literature, important questions remain unanswered. As researchers have expanded beyond samples of White, predominantly middle-class families, it has become increasingly clear that the influence of authoritativeness, as well as other styles of parenting, varies depending on the social milieu in which the family is embedded. For example, Baumrind (1972) reported that authoritarian parenting, which is associated with fearful, timid behavior and behavioral compliance among EuropeanAmerican children, is associated with assertiveness among African-American girls. Furthermore, recent studies in which the effects of authoritativeness have been compared across ethnic groups have consistently shown that authoritative parenting is most strongly associated with academic achievement among Nancy Darling and Laurence Steinberg, Department of Psychology, Temple University. Work on this article was supported by grants from the Lilly Endowment and the William T. Grant Foundation. Our thanks to Diana Baumrind, Marsha Weinraub, and several anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful comments. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Laurence Steinberg, Department of Psychology, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19122.
European-American adolescents and is least effective in influencing the academic achievement of Asian- and AfricanAmerican youths (Dornbusch, Ritter, Leiderman, Roberts, & Fraleigh, 1987; Steinberg, Mounts, Lamborn, & Dornbusch, 1991). How can such variability be explained? Are the processes through which authoritativeness enhances development undermined by other processes operating in particular cultural milieus (e.g., within the child's peer group)? Or is there something fundamentally different about the processes that occur within authoritative families in different...
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Received June 4,1991 Revision received July 21,1992 Accepted July 27,1992 •
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