Different Parenting Styles and Their Influence on Juvenile Delinquency
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Different Parenting Styles and Their Influence on Juvenile Delinquency

There are different parenting styles How a person parent's can contribute to juvenile delinquency Parents are not totally the blame for their kids becoming juvenile delinquents

When it comes to teenagers being out of control and getting into trouble with the law, the bulk of the research done on why children get out of control in this fashion was centered on parenting styles. Many psychologists claimed there was not enough discipline in the home and that is what led to juvenile delinquency in the children. Today more and more criminologists and psychologists are starting to see that no one factor such as a parenting style can account for this deviant behavior. The theories are too limited, they do not take into consideration social and ethnic factors, poverty, peer pressure, media influence, and so on. However, for the purpose of this article we will look at the different parenting styles first set forth by Diana Blumberg Baumrind, clinical and developmental psychologist.

Dr. Baumrind studied how parents responded to the needs of their children, “parental responsiveness” and how that determined a child’s behavior. She also looked at how they demanded things from their children, in terms of their behavior, “parental demandedness.” She used these two measures of parenting to form her seminal Parenting Styles theory (1966), which would shape the voice of psychology and criminology well into the 1990’s.

This theory also set well with the public, for they felt that if a child became a delinquent it had to be the parent’s fault. If the parents exhibited proper discipline in the house then there would be no delinquency. It also led to some unfair alienation of some parents in their communities, placed a heavy burden on single mothers, and created some harsh laws penalizing the parents for their children’s behavior.

Please understand that I am not saying that parents have not contributed whether knowingly or unknowingly to the delinquency. I am saying that parents cannot be held totally responsible for their children’s behavior. Some children had what we would consider model parents and yet they still turned to delinquency. This got researchers to begin to look at other reasons besides parenting which could be a cause for the wayward youth of today. So now let us look at Diana Baumrind’s landmark theory on parenting styles.

Authoritarian Parenting

The authoritative parent is very rigid and demanding, there is no room for a child to disobey. The child must follow the rules of the house without question. The parent is always right. Or the parent may delegate the rightness to a higher force like “God.” These parents can be very similar to the drill sergeants in the army in the sense that chores have to be done “just right” and there is no room for error. There is no room for exceptions either and children are severely scolded physically and or verbally when they do not comply with the rules. For example, “you lazy good for nothing, get that room cleaned up NOW!” Dr. Baumrind stated that some of these parents are abusive, but not all of them. They are just very rigid in their thinking and everything must be their way. The authoritarian parents want to shape their children into their own perception of what children should be. The children must be given chores to develop a good work ethnic, must value work over play, and must be obedient at all times. The children are not allowed to express any individuality. All behavior is controlled. How the children talk, act, dress and so on is controlled according to the parents idea of what is proper even if that goes against what the children want or what society considers normal. The order in the house and how one conducts oneself outside is all according to tradition and the parent’s idea of what a child should act like. It could be because of a religious upbringing and these are the rules handed down by God or it could be because that was how the parents were taught from their parents and this is the way it has to be with their children as well.

Although this group is not traditionally associated with becoming young offenders some research points to the fact that being brought up in a very strict home can have adverse effects on children. Some (not all) not all children may rebel to the point that they leave home early, or are thrown out by their families (and become street kids). Some of these kids get involved with the wrong crowd because according to some self reports they state they want to enjoy life and just do what other kids do.” These kids may experiment with drugs and alcohol and get involved with the law. However, they are not the biggest group of juvenile offenders.

Permissive Parenting

Permissive parenting in the exact opposite of the Authoritarian style of parenting, these parents are too soft. They are the parents that spoil their children rotten giving them everything they want. They have few rules, or they don’t enforce the rules they have. Children grow up with a sense of entitlement as if the world owes them something. They can be very manipulated because they know how to get exactly what they want. They know how to push their parents buttons whether it is an “I love you mommy” or “I hate you Daddy,” they know just what to do to get what they want. These are the little children in the toy stores screaming until their parents buy that toy for them. These are the children you see on the talk shows saying “I ‘m 13 years old and I do what I want, if I want to have sex, I will, If I want to smoke I will. Yes, these kids are the classic juvenile delinquents. They will rob from their parents or they will rob from other people. They will get what they want when they want it without remorse.

It would be wrong here to think that permissive parents are necessarily negligent parents not caring what their children are doing, although that can be true in some cases. Permissive parents often think they are doing the right thing. They think that children should have a say in how they are being brought up. However, they are not very good at setting proper boundaries on what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t. They have trouble enforcing rules.

These are the parents that because they have not made any boundaries their children know no boundaries. For example, a parent not exercising rules or boundaries would be the one who still has a 8 year old up at 11PM on a school night because when the child was told to go to bed at 8 pm he was not tired.

Note: Of course not every child from a permissive parenting style household will be a juvenile delinquent. The issue to understand here is that in all the studies done on juvenile delinquency and parenting styles, this is the parenting style that lends to juvenile delinquency because children were not taught the importance of rules. The children from these families are self-indulgent thinking only of their own needs with very little concern about others. Many of them get into crime if their parents are unable to continue to support them. Many do not have a work ethic and stealing becomes a way of life. Or, they cannot find work because they did not finish their schooling.

Again there are exceptions to the rules. I know some of you are saying to yourself, “my son was spoiled rotten and he is a dentist today.” Yes, that is true, but remember the paper is on parenting styles and juvenile delinquency so we are talking about which style leads to the most juvenile delinquency and why.

Many spoiled kids are really smart and they do not get into trouble with the law. They marry people who will continue to indulge them and some are very highly productive people in the community once they grow up.

Authoritative Parenting

This is the best parenting style and the one parenting style attributed to the least amount of juvenile delinquency. Here the parents set reasonable rules and guidelines. The parents are not rigid in their discipline acknowledging that sometimes there are exceptions to the rules. Parents discuss with their children why they are making the rules and will listen to their children’s feelings about them. They will amend the rules if the child shows valid reason why they should do so. However, they are always in control. They shape their children’s behavior in a positive fashion and set good examples themselves. Children respect their parents and parents respect and support their children. Children realize their parents are fair and they will come to them with their problems and issues often averting juvenile delinquency by doing so. Your classic TV Authoritative parents are the Huxtables on the Cosby Show.




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Comments (13)

Great article Carol, no matter how many times I read about these parenting styles I wish more people were aware of them. I'm sure that emotional factors contribute to parents choosing one style over another, but simply being cognizant of these types and behaviors they can lead to in children can help.

yep being cognizant is the beginning of knowing doing something about it is the key

Children are like sponges. They soak up everything they see and learn from it. I've had more than one disagreement with people who drink, smoke, use drugs...etc; but will then tell their children to stay away from booze, cigarettes and drugs. The children feel they themselves can do whatever they want because that is what they see the parent doing. Good article!!!

Yes hon, you are absolutely right and I wrote an article on that too, it is about modeling.

Great article.. I wish my parents could have had healthy parenting styles, but neither of them had any experience with that as being children with parents .. themselves.

yep we often become the parents our parents were

Oh speaking of... my daughter is becoming my parent.. due to my forgetfulness.. lol.

In many ways so is my son, for the vary same reasons and more

Bringing up teenages is one of the hardest jobs I've had, the above research seems inconclusive as any child with any kind of parenting can become a problem.

Petal it is very rare you will find anything conclusive, this was the seminal work the first work in the area, started in the 1960's as I mentioned and used as benchmark until the 1990's now more studies are going to on to show that there is more factors that effect behavior as I said in the first paragraph.

Family Matters

I so totally agree with this. It's a pity there was a lot more on the "bad" parenting styles than on the "good" one, though. Perhaps you can post some quick tips on how to be authoritative parents.

You're welcome to grab them from my site ;)

thanks family matters, I am sure I will write more on the issue, as I always have to come up with topics of interest here for the psychology channel, you are free to post your topics here in in the channel.

Excellent article Carol I like the contrast you present between authoritarian and authoritative. I work in a middle school (7th - 8th grade) and I can guess what kind of parenting styles the kids are coming from. It is a mature and blessed kid that can overcome permissive parenting but they need a lot of help from other adults. I have heard that one of the things that impacts a child is the presence of other adults outside of family who show care and concern or even an older sibling who might be caring for them.