Research Topic: How does parental involvement such as different parenting styles, marital conflict, and low-socioeconomic status positively and negatively influence a child’s behavior in the United States.
There are many things that can influence a child’s behavior and development. One major factor is parental involvement such as parenting styles, marital conflict, and quality care received for instance, low income, that can effect a child’s behavior as well as development. The way parents raise their children is changing and has been changing for a considerable time. However, the type of parental style used in a household typically results in the same outcome regarding child behavior. For example, authoritarian parental style tends to cause more delinquent behaviors among adolescents which typically results in negative outcomes. This can be seen throughout different families.
In the United States, marriage has changed dramatically over the years. Historically, women were not equal with their male counterparts. Women did not have many rights as opposed to males until much later. Women only had a couple jobs which were to take care of the children, cook, and clean. It wasn’t until the turn of the twentieth century that dating, as opposed to courtships, became the norm. Also, divorce was harder to get and was not as common as it is in modern times. In the early 1990’s, if you wanted a divorce, you had to prove that your significant other had committed adultery, abused, or abandoned you. This went on until the 1970’s when Ronald Reagan signed the first no-fault divorce bill which made it possible to file for divorce without proving their spouse committed a wrongdoing. The quality of care received children in a household has also changed over the years. There are more wealthy families developing throughout the United States however, there are families that still struggle with poverty in many regions on the United States.
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The significance of this study is to understand how parental involvement can influence child behavior as they get older. This study is important because the findings can inform parents of which parental style provides the most positive outcomes in regards to child behavior and development. It will also provide information regarding marital conflict and low-income versus high-income households and how it might effect child behavior.
- Problem Statement
In the United States, juvenile delinquent crimes occur relatively often. In 2017, a total of 809,700 juveniles were arrested. This may stem from a number of factors that might have influenced the delinquent behavior such as parenting styles, conflicts among the parents, and/or socioeconomic factors which may include low-income. Aunola and Nurmi (2005) study revealed that parenting styles have a major influence in child behavior. For example, when the mother exhibits high levels of psychological control combined with affection, the child may exhibit an increase in negative behavior. In turn, that negative behavior, if not treated, could result in juvenile delinquent crimes. Patrick T. Davies and E. Mark Cummings (1998) found that martial conflicts can also strongly effect child behavior. They found that marital dysfunction was linked with adjustment problems which led to emotional insecurity. . Deckers, Falk, Kosse, Schildberg-Hörisch (2015) conducted a study that revealed that socioeconomic status plays a major role in child behavior as well. They revealed that children from lower socio-economic status were shown to be less patient, less altruistic, more likely to take risks, and had a much lower IQ score (Deckers et al 2015).
The key question to this research paper is what can influence a child’s behavior and development? How can parenting style positively and negatively affect child behavior? How can martial conflict and socioeconomic-status influence child behavior?
- Explore the causes of positive and negative child behavior in regards to parental influence.
- Explain whether martial conflicts impact child behavior in a positive or negative manner.
- Discuss the relationship between child behavior and parenting styles.
- Compare and contrast different parenting styles and its influence on child behavior.
- Describe how different parenting styles among parents can cause negative child behavior.
- Examine whether maternal depression symptoms can effect child behavior and development.
- Explain how having a low-income household can have a negative effect on child behavior.
- Discuss the relationship between parenting styles and child sleep patterns.
- Theoretical Framework
Social behaviorism is a theory originated by George Herbert Mead that argues people tend to view themselves based largely on interactions with others. This theory explains how social experience can create an individual’s personality such as observing and interacting with others, responding to others’ opinions about oneself, and internalizing external opinions and internal opinions about oneself. Most sociologists during Mead’s time felt that the self was based on biological factors and inherited traits. However, Mead disagreed which is one reason why social behaviorism is an important aspect of sociological history. According to Mead, the self is not developed at birth, but developed over time from social experiences (Hurst). This theory however has an extremely narrow focus on symbolic interactions which some may claim is a strength while others believe it is a weakness.
Conflict theory argues that tensions and conflicts emerge when resources, status, and power are unevenly distributed between groups within a society and that these conflicts bring social change (Crossman 2019). The conflict theory originated in the work of sociologist Karl Marx. He argued that a powerful minority class and an oppressed majority class created class conflicts (Crossman 2019). One of the strengths of this theory is that it seeks moral ends. For example, the emancipation of humanity from false claims of “universality”. Universality occurs when “one group takes power and seeks to justify it on the grounds that it represents “freedom of all” when in reality, it is “freedom for them”” (Johnson 2017). One of its greatest weaknesses is the critical theory’s connection with socialism and statism (Johnson 2017).
Symbolic interactionism is a theory that analyzes patterns of communication, interpretation, and adjustment between individuals in society. This theory allows for the understanding on how individuals interact with each other and within society through meanings of symbols. Symbolic interactionism focuses on the roles people play in society. Role-taking begins at an early age and is a key mechanism through which an individual can appreciate another person’s perspective and better understand the significance of a particular action to that person. Symbolic interactionists explore the changing meanings which are attached to family and argue that shared activities help to build emotional bonds among family members. They also argue that marriage and family relationships are based on negotiated meanings (Boundless Sociology). Symbolic interactionism suggests that our identity or sense of self is shaped by social interaction (Mooney, Knox, Schacht 2007). This is crucial for children as they watch interactions among their parents. Some of the advantages of symbolic interactionism is that it focuses on the individuals rather than groups in society (Interactionism 2018). It also allows us to compare the way we act with other people than may be different from the way you act (Interactionism 2018). However, the theory does not take in consideration of every individual because some people are unable to make their own choices and have little freewill. It also underestimates the power of structure (Interactionism 2018).
Structural functionalism sees society as a complex system that works together to promote solidarity and stability. Functionalists tend to identify functions in which the family typically performs such as “reproduction, socialization, care, protection, emotional support, assignment of status, and regulation of sexual behavior through social norms” (James 2017). Structural functionalism explains how society minimizes conflict through socialization and social control (James 2017). It also explains how different parts of the social system function to maintain the whole (James 2017). However, it neglects the negative functions such as divorce. Critics also argue that structural functionalism “justifies the status quo and complacency on the part of society’s members” (Three Major Perspectives in Sociology). This perspective also see’s active social change as undesirable (Three Major Perspectives in Sociology).
High academic achievement
Authoritarian, Neglect, and Permissive
Parents who exhibit high levels of psychological conrol combined with high affection
Parents who exhibit behavioral control combined with low levels of psychological control
Negatively effect child’s sleep pattern as well as cause symptoms of depression and anxiety
Poor academic achievement
No martial conflict
Households with high socio-economic status
Households with low socio-economic status
Mothers with no symptoms of depression and anxiety may cause less or no food insecurity
Mothers exhibit symptoms of depression and anxiety may cause food insecurity
- Marital conflict will have a negative effect on child behavior.
- Low socio-economic status will negatively affect a child’s behavior.
- Parents strongly influence the way children behave.
- Parents that are neglectful will have a negative influence on child behavior.
- Authoritative parenting style will have a positive effect on child behavior.
- Literature Review
Samiullah Sarwar states that parents play a crucial role in shaping the behavior of adolescents (225). Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist identified three parenting styles based on parental demandingness and responsiveness which are authoritative parenting, authoritarian parenting, and permissive parenting (225). Juvenile delinquency is directly linked to how the parents treat their children. In many cases, parents are frequently blamed for the criminal or delinquent behavior displayed by their young children (225). Self-identity and autonomy is important during the development of a juvenile. Some may engage in delinquent acts which causes parents to become worried about their well-being (225).
During the adolescent stage of youth, delinquent behavior seems to be one of the most distressful problems. Delinquent behaviors may include but are not limited to, refusal to adhere to the parental demands, alcohol and drug use, stealing, property destruction, theft, and rape (226). Sarwar states that “home is the place where a normal and healthy development of any child starts and the family constitutes the backbone of an individual” which means that “family is considered to be a basic ecology in which the behavior of children is manifested in their childhood by way of negative and positive reinforcement “ (227). Authoritarian parental style tends to cause more delinquent behaviors among adolescents which eventually results in negative outcomes (Sarwar 227).
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In the early 1960’s, psychologist Diana Baumrind conducted a study on preschool children using qualitative research methods including parental interviews, naturalistic observation and other research methods (228). Baumrind identified four imperative dimensions of parenting; expectations of adulthood and control, communication styles, nurturance and warmth and disciplinary strategies (228). She found that the majority of parents exhibit one of three parenting styles that are mentioned above (228). Darling (1999) believes that there are essentially four parenting styles which include indulgent, authoritative, authoritarian, and uninvolved which is based on lowness or highness on parental responsiveness and demanding behavior (Sarwar 228). Parenting styles can be separated into two categories; demandingness and responsiveness according to Baumrind (228).
Demandingness, according to Baumrind (1966), refers to “claims in which parents are supposed to be integrated into community and family by their maturity expectations, disciplinary efforts, supervision and willingness to confront a disruptive child” (Sarwar 229). Therefore, parents that exhibit higher levels of discipline pattern, confrontation and monitoring are demanding, whereas parents that exhibit lower levels of confrontation, inconsistent discipline and monitoring are not demanding ( Sarwar 229). Responsiveness, according to Baumrind (1966), is defined as “the ratio of fostering self-assertion and individuality by parents being attuned, acquiescent and supportive to the demands and needs of children” and it can be measured through the level of communication, reciprocity, and warmth displayed by parents while dealing with adolescents ( Sarwar 229). In a study by Maccoby and Martin (1983), they argued that higher levels of responsiveness were found in parenting styles such as permissive and/ or authoritative (Sarwar 229). In a study by Simons, Simons, and Wallace (2004), they concluded that low levels of responsiveness were found in neglecting and/or authoritarian parenting style (Sarwar 229).
According to Baumrind, authoritative parents “provide guidance to their children on issue oriented and rational manner” (Sarwar 230). The level of demandingness in authoritative parenting style is usually higher compared to other parenting styles. Therefore, parents encourage effective communication and also an effective relationship between the parent and adolescent (Sarwar 230). Authoritative parents welcome verbal give-and-take, express reasoning behind rules and use power, reason, and shaping to strengthen objectives and is associated with positive adolescent outcomes (Sarwar 230). As a result, it is the most beneficial and effective style of parenting among families and plays an influential role in the development of healthy adolescent psychologically and socially (Sarwar 230). Authoritative parenting style helps children develop a more positive self-image, develop higher level of self-reliance, and higher levels of self-esteem (Sarwar 230).
Authoritarian parenting style is characterized by high demands and low responsiveness. Authoritarian parents attempts to “evaluate, shape and control the attitudes as well as behavior of their children in line with set standards of conduct, known as absolute standard” (Sarwar 231). In this particular parental style, parents give strict rules to which children are expected to follow. If children fail to comply to the rules, they are punished. Authoritarian parents emphasize on conformity and obedience and parents expect the rules to be followed without explanation (Sarwar 231). Authoritarian parents discourage open communication and have strict control over their children. Authoritarian parenting style restricts a child to explore their capabilities and social interactions which leads them to be dependent on their parental guidance and direction (Sarwar 232). Permissive parenting is characterized by low demands with high responsiveness. Parents tend to be loving and provide few guidelines and rules. Neglecting parents however, show very low level of involvement and also low levels of strictness (Sarwar 232). Neglecting parents are neither responsive nor demanding ( Sarwar 232).
Children of all ages can be effected by their maternal and paternal parenting styles. Aunola and Nurmi (2005) conducted a study on parenting styles of both the mothers’ and fathers’ which include affection, behavioral control, and psychological control to determine which had the most influence in predicting their child’s internal and external behavioral problems. The results showed that mothers that exhibited high levels of psychological control as well as high affection increased the internal and external behavior problems of the child (Aunola and Nurmi 2005). Mothers that exhibited behavioral control actually decreased the child’s external problems however, only combined with low levels of psychological control (Aunola and Nurmi 2005).
It is widely believed that parenting styles influence delinquent behaviors in most juveniles (233). If adolescents lack the exposure of intimacy, guidance, parental involvement, parental attachment, anger and blaming, delinquent behavior will most likely be the result.
The article, “Correlating Parenting Styles with Child Behavior and Caries”, examines the relationship between parenting style, sociodemographic data, caries status, and child’s behavior during the child’s first dental visit (Howenstein, J., Kumar, A., Casamassimo, P., McTigue, D., Coury, D., & Yin, H. 2015). For new patients aged 3 to 6 years old, parents or legal guardians completed the Parenting Styles and Dimensions Questionnaire (PSDQ) which allowed the authors to assess parenting style. They were also given a 15-question demographic survey to complete. Dental hygienists assessed child behavior using the Frankl Scale (inter-rater reliability was 92 percent) (Howenstein, J., et al 2015). Parenting styles can heavily influence children’s behavior during their dental visit. The authors found that children with authoritative parents displayed more positive behavior rather than children with authoritarian and permissive parents (Howenstein, J., et al 2015). There were 81 children (93%) whose parents/legal guardians were authoritative that showed a positive behavior while 6 children (7%) showed a negative behavior (Howenstein, J., et al 2015). There were 19 children (58%) whose parents/legal guardians were permissive that showed a positive behavior while 14 children (42%) with negative behavior (Howenstein, J., et al 2015). Furthermore, there were only 5 children (45%) whose parents/legal guardians were authoritarian that showed a positive behavior while 6 children (55%) with negative behavior (Howenstein, J., et al 2015).
Martial conflicts can negatively influence child behavior. Patrick T. Davies and E. Mark Cummings (1998) conducted a study to examine whether children’s emotional securities were linked between marital relations and children’s adjustment. One component of emotional security is children’s internal representations of marital and family relations (Davies and Cummings 1998 p.125). In theory, children from high-conflict homes are expected to have an increased chance of developing insecure representations of family relations than children of low-conflict homes (Davies and Cummings 1998 p.125). In this case, insecure representations are characteristics that elevate children’s risk for adjustment problems (Davies and Cummings 1998 p.125).
The participants of this study were fifty-six 6 to 9 year old children and their mothers from martially intact homes and had an equal number of boys and girls (Davies and Cummings 1998 p.127). To provide a clearer test, they excluded separated, divorced, and stepparent families (Davies and Cummings 1998 p.127). Most of the applicants of the study consisted of European American (95%) with the remaining being African American (5%) (Davies and Cummings 1998 p.127). Davies and Cummings (1998) concluded that marital dysfunction was linked with adjustment problems which led to emotional insecurity.
Tavassolie, Madigan, and Winsler (2016) conducted a similar study that focused on relations between parenting styles of the mother and father, marital conflict, and child behavior outcomes. The children participants were aged 3 to 9 years old and the parenting styles, marital conflict, and child behavior problems were reported from both parents. It was concluded that authoritarian and permissive parenting styles led to an increase in child internalizing and externalizing behavior problems (Tavassolie et al. 2016). They found that martial conflict was significantly related to behavioral problems among children (Tavassolie et al. 2016). When the parenting styles among the mother and father differed, it caused an increase in marital conflict which could possibly cause an increase in behavioral problems among the children (Tavassolie et al. 2016).
Socio-economic status can influence and shape a child’s behavior. Deckers, Falk, Kosse, Schildberg-Hörisch (2015) presented that socio-economic status can be a “powerful predictor of many facets of a child’s personality”. In this case, the facets of personality they studied consisted of time preferences, risk preferences, altruism, and IQ (both crystallized and fluid) (Deckers et al 2015). Their sample consists of 732 children and their mothers (Deckers et al 2015 p.5). They measured a family’s socio-economic status by the maternal and paternal average years of education as well as the household income (Deckers et al 2015). Children in households with higher socio-economic status were shown to be more patient, more altruistic, less likely to take risks, and had a much higher IQ score (Deckers et al 2015 p. 15).
Role of Family Stressors on Rural Low-Income Children’s Behaviors. Children of rural, low income families tend to be at higher risk of developing behavioral issues than compared to higher income families. Greder, Peng, Doudna, and Sarver used the Family Stress Model to guide their study examining food insecurity and maternal depressive symptoms and how it impacts the behavior among rural children (Greder et al 2017). They found that mothers that show depression symptoms only partially mediated the relation between food insecurity and child behavior among younger children (Greder et al 2017). In contrast, in older children, the mothers symptoms completely mediated the relation between the two stressors (Greder et al 2017).
Parenting styles can also influence a child’s academic achievements. Steinberg, Lamborn, Dornbusch, and Darling(1992) wanted to show the impact of authoritative parenting on adolescent achievement. They found that authoritative parenting significantly impacts adolescent school performance during the high school years (Steinberg et al. 1992 p.1274). Authoritative parents see an increase in their children’s academic scores rather than nonauthoritative homes (Steinberg et al. 1992 p.1274-1275). In all, authoritative parenting leads to higher academic success.
The article, “The influence of parenting style on health related behavior of children: findings from the ChiBS study”, explores associations between parenting behavior and children’s health related behavior such as physical activity, sedentary behavior, diet and sleep. The study recruited 288 parents and their children aged 6 to 12 years old. The weight and height of the children were recorded and parents reported socio-demographic data, sleep information, physical activity and sedentary behavior of their child. The parents completed the Comprehensive General Parenting Questionnaire (CGPQ) and a Food Frequency Questionnaire while the children completed the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire. The study found a small positive correlation between sweet food consumption frequency and “coercive control” and a small negative correlation between fruit and vegetables consumption frequency and “overprotection” (Philips, Sioen, Michels, Sleddens, & Henauw, 2014). Parents who scored lower on “structure” and higher on “overprotection” correlated with children consuming more soft drinks (Philips et al., 2014). They found a small negative correlation between “emotional eating” and “structure” and also “behavioral control” (Philips et al., 2014). Also, “coercive control” was negatively correlated with the child’s sleep duration (Philips et al., 2014). They concluded that “health professionals should encourage parents to apply the more positive parenting constructs i.e., more “structure” and “behavioral control”, and less “coercive control”” (Philips et al., 2014).
Parenting styles can effect a child’s sleep pattern as well as cause symptoms of depression and anxiety. Brand, Hatzinger, Beck, and Holsboer-Trachsler (2009) conducted a study to examine which type of parenting style causes the most harm to adolescents in regard to sleep patterns and depression symptoms. There were a total of 246 participants that took part in the study and completed multiple questionnaires about parenting styles and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Additionally, they completed a questionnaire assessing their sleep-patterns as well as a sleep log for 7 consecutive days. The study revealed that adverse parenting styles correlated with poor sleep quality, negative mood, increased daytime sleepiness, and increase symptoms of depression and anxiety (Brand et al 2009). Adolescents with the most unfavorable sleep habits had parents that displayed low positive and high negative parenting styles (Brand et al 2009). The purpose of this study was to show that parents can have a negative influence on children’s sleep patterns and the type of parenting style matter when it comes to the behavior and development of a child.
The research methods used for this research proposal will consist mostly of surveys and questionnaires. Using surveys and questionnaires will be the best way to efficiently gather information from the participants in a timely manner. The participants will consists of children aged 3 to 18 and their parents. This method will exclude separated, divorced, and step parents to give a clearer test. There will be separate questionnaires given to the parents and children. The questionnaires will consist of questions regarding parenting style, type of relationship between mother and father as well as parent to child relationship. Exploring the correlation between low socio-economic status and negative child behaviors, questionnaires will consist of the parents average years of education and household income as well as any other variables to be considered.
Schools will be the best way to gather the population and sampling. The surveys and questionnaires will be given electronically and will be optional to parents and children in all schools in the surrounded area. In order to ensure reliability and validity, the parents and children will be separated to help alleviate parental bias. The questionnaires will consist of open-ended questions which will allow for a meaningful answer and create qualitative data. It will also use closed-ended questions which can be answered in a simple one-word answer such as “yes” or “no” to help generate quantitative data. Thematic software will be used to analyze the survey and questionnaire data efficiently. Using this type of software tool can help avoid bias.
- Conclusion and Recommendations: The Intervention Plan
This research paper has explored many ways in which parents can influence child behavior. Authoritarian and neglectful parenting style have the most negative effect on child behavior whereas authoritative parenting has the most positive effect. Authoritarian parenting style tends to neglects open communication and parents have strict control over their children. It restricts a child to explore their capabilities and social interaction. As a result, they tend to be more dependent on their parental guidance. Parenting styles have shown to effect child sleep patterns as well. Martial conflict and low socio-economic status can also have a negative effect on child behavior as well as maternal depression symptoms.
To solve juvenile delinquent behavior caused by negative parental involvement, there will be a specific program created for teaching and informing parents as well as expecting parents. The program will contain a teaching course on how parental involvement can negatively and positively influence child behavior. It will also contain a counseling program for parents and children. The counseling program will serve many purposes which include martial counseling, child counseling, parent-to-child counseling, and budget counseling for those who are in debt. There will also be a program for those who are in need of welfare to help with low-socioeconomic status.
The total budget of building the office needed for the program will be about $154,400.00. The building will consist of 2 stories. There will be 5 employees which will contain 2 teaching consultants, and 3 counselors. The average cost for the 5 employees will be $50,000 plus $20,000 of supplies for the teaching course and counseling program. The total budget cost for starting this program will be $224,400.
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