The Role of Parenting Style in Cultural Transition



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This study presents a dynamic view of change in parenting style and emancipatory values over time and across diverse cultural regions within the United States. Focusing on the parent and their relation to culture rather than on the parent and their relation to child outcome allows exploration of the potential of parenting style as an agent of cultural change. Normative parenting within Baumrind’s typology reproduces instrumental competence in a capitalist, patriarchal society. Anomalous parents are in a unique position to challenge norms and reform the culture that produces them. The model used here extends Baumrind’s framework to redefine control, and distinguish the concept of tolerance and respect, to develop a Parenting Style Index (PSI) calculated for respondents in each of six survey years of the WVS and GSS. A descriptive analysis produced national and regional estimates on mean PSI and identification of Harmonious and Authoritarian parenting outliers from the 1970s to 2010s. Overall, there was a general trend toward increases in harmonious parenting from 1981 to the present, although this trend appears to have subsided in the most recent years. There are considerable fluctuations in the PSI across regions and birth cohorts. The association between independent variables and PSI was measured through multiple linear regression which indicated the strongest predictor on parenting style is the parent’s emancipative values and religiosity. Despite the appearance of national homogeneity, the evolution of parenting style is best understood in specific and diverse regional contexts. Patterns suggest the failure to advance emancipatory values in parenting style coincides with stunted economic and human development.



Parenting style, Cultural change, Emancipatory values, Inequality, Patriarchy, Harmonious parents, SDT, Religiosity, Regional culture