Parental Behaviors and the Personalities of Children

There are all kinds of children: Some are shy and passive, others are sociable and active; some are bright and quick, others are dull and slow. However, most children are somewhere in between, not "average," but not extreme either. Just as there are different kinds of children, there are different types of parents and different styles of parenting. For example, Baumrind (1971, 1972) classified parents as being of three types: authoritarian, permissive, and authoritative, each of which presumably leads to certain behaviors on the part of children. Authoritarian parents are restrictive, rule-emphasizing individuals who expect children to be obedient and who punish behavior that deviates from their rules. In contrast, permissive parents are nondemand-ing individuals who permit children to establish their own standards of conduct. Finally, authoritative parents set behavioral limits and standards and enforce them with a combination of power and reasoning. The children of authoritative parents are encouraged to conform to these limits, but they are also permitted to contribute their own reasoning concerning them. Baumrind found that the children of both authoritarian and permissive parents behaved similarly in many respects: The sons were more hostile than normal, and the daughters were more socially retiring individuals who gave up easily. The children of authoritative parents, whom Baumrind considers the most effective of all three parenting styles, were able to conform to group norms without sacrificing their own individuality.

Modifications of Baumrind's (1972) model were proposed by Schaefer (1959) and Becker (1964), and by Maccoby and Martin (1983). The two dimensions of parental behavior in the Becker-Schaefer model are permissiveness/ restrictiveness and warmth/acceptingness. Parents who are high on both the permissiveness/restrictiveness and warmth/acceptingness dimensions are reasonably controlling but accepting of their children. Children of these parents tend to be socially outgoing, independent, creative, and low in hostility. Parents who are high in permissiveness/restrictiveness but low in warmth/acceptingness are permissive but hostile and rejecting of their children. Children of these parents tend to be aggressive, noncompliant, and delinquent. Parents who are low inpermissiveness/restrictiveness but high in warmth/acceptingness are restrictive and overcontrolling but warm and accepting of their children. Children of these parents tend to be submissive, nonaggressive, and dependent. Parents who are low on both the permissiveness/ restrictiveness and warmth/acceptingness dimensions are restrictive and overcontrolling as well as hostile and rejecting. Children of these parents tend to be quarrelsome, shy, and to have psychological problems.

The Maccoby-Martin model is similar to the Schaefer-Becker model in its definitions of two dimensions of parenting behavior— demandingness and responsiveness to the child. Combinations of these two dimensions result in four types of parents and the child personality characteristics associated with them.

Authoritarian parents in the Maccoby-Martin model assert their power without warmth, nurturance, or reciprocal communication between parents and child. Such parents value obedience, respect for authority, work, tradition, and the preservation of order, and they attempt to control and evaluate the child's behavior according to a set of absolute standards. Children of these parents are moderately competent and responsible, but they are socially withdrawn and lack spontaneity. The daughters tend to be dependent and lower in achievement motivation; the sons are higher in aggressiveness but lower in self-esteem than other boys their age (Coopersmith, 1967).

Indulgent parents in the Maccoby-Martin model make few demands on their children. Although the children of these parents are more positive in their moods and have greater vitality than the children of authoritarian parents, they tend to be immature, impulsive, and socially irresponsible. They are also low in self-reliance and have problems in handling aggression.

Neglecting parents in the Maccoby-Martin model ignore their children and are indifferent to or uninvolved with them. Neglecting parents do not necessarily abuse their children, but they are self-centered rather than child-centered in their behavior. They have little social interaction with their children and usually do not know where their children are or what they are doing. Children of such parents tend to be impulsive, moody, unable to concentrate, and low in frustration tolerance. Also characteristic of such children are problems in controlling aggression, lack of emotional attachments to other people, and truancy.

Authoritative parents are accepting, responsive, child-centered, and yet controlling; they expect their children to behave according to their abilities and ages but solicit the children's opinions and feelings in family decision making. Though these parents are warm and nurturing, they are not averse to imposing punitive and restrictive measures. However, they provide reasons and explanations to their children when they do so. According to Maccoby and Martin (1983), the children of authoritative parents tend to be independent, self-assertive, friendly, and cooperative.

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