Researchers from Spain’s University of Valencia (UV) have identified that parenting style can impact the entire family. Their conclusions show that punishment, deprivation and strict rules impact on a family’s self-esteem.

“The objective was to analyze which style of parental socialization is ideal in Spain by measuring the psychosocial adjustment of children,” says Fernando García, co-author of the study.

The study, which has been published in the latest issue of the journal Infancia y Aprendizaje, was produced on the basis of a nationwide survey carried out on 948 children and teenagers aged between 10 and 14 (52 percent of whom were girls).

The survey described the socialization practices of their parents.

On the basis of these answers, the families were classified into one of four classic parental socialization types — authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent and neglectful.

“The scores for children from indulgent families were the same, or even better, than those from authoritative families,” the researcher points out.

According to the investigators, imposed discipline systems, such as punishments, deprivation and strict rules, which try to force children do things, have a knock-on effect on family self-esteem, and are associated with incomplete emotional development and a certain level of resentment toward the family, even if they are applied by parents who have very cordial relationships with their children, “at least in cultures such as in Spain, where little value is placed on hierarchical relationships.”

The researchers highlight the need for parents to work hard “on aspects that are often not sufficiently addressed,” such as communication, polite relationships, showing an interest in children’s problems and giving reasoned explanations about the consequences of their actions.

“These are activities that, at the end of the day, call for involvement, dedication and care,” says García, with the objective being for all people to become mature, responsible and able to do things for themselves.

Family classification is obtained by combining behaviors that involve different levels of demands being made and responsibility given.

Firstly, the authoritative model describes families that “provide clear rules, giving reasons for them to their children in an affectionate and flexible way, while also expecting these rules to be followed.”

The authoritarian model is similar to the authoritative one, in that it is demanding or controlling, but it differs in that the parents are less affectionate.

On the other hand there are parents who fall within the neglectful and indulgent models, which are characterized by applying low levels of repression.

However, those in the first group are “not very affectionate” while those in the second group are “very affectionate.” And, for the Spanish culture, the results show that the ideal family style in Spain is the indulgent one.

Source: FECYT – Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology