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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
VICTORIA, T D (2009). The Effects of Age and Gender with Parenting Styles. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 12. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved December 6, 2023 .

The Effects of Age and Gender with Parenting Styles
Department of Psychology University of Central Missouri

Sponsored by: PATRICIA MARSH (pmarsh@ucmo.edu)

This study examined the way parenting styles are affected by a parent’s particular gender or age.  The first hypotheses for this study was that men are more authoritarian and women more authoritative parents.  Second hypotheses are that older parents will be authoritarian and younger parents would be more permissive.  Parents were asked to fill out a survey about their own parenting style.  Questions were asked about how they feel about certain interactions with their children.  Based on the parents answers, gave insight into their parenting style.

The Effects of Age and Gender with Parenting Styles

Extensive research on parenting styles has shown that the way parents raise their children may greatly influence their future endeavors.  A variety of parenting styles can be seen in our own homes, by watching television, or watching parents out in public.  How often have you been in a restaurant and see a mother, or father, with their child?  Some may have seen a mother giving in to every whim of the child’s wants?  All the child has to do is make the biggest seen necessary before receiving what he/she is pleading for.  Many may have often wondered what that child would be like in twenty years and what lasting personality traits his/her parents were instilling them.  What compels this particular parent to give in to their child’s demands?  Is it the parents’ age, or their gender?    There are many individuals that hold interest on parenting styles.  Whether they are interested in parenting styles due to the way their parents raised them or because they are parents.

Researchers have discovered four basic types of parenting styles authoritarian, authoritative, permissive, and rejecting-neglectful (McGillicuddy-De Lisi & De Lisi, 2007).  The first is authoritarian and these parents tend to “enforce rules strictly, value obedience, and discourage verbal give and take with their children” (p. 426).  The second term used to define parents is “authoritative parents also set firm rules but provide rationales to the child, solicit input from the child and are warm and involved with the child” (p. 426).  The McGillicuddy-De Lisi and De Lisi (2007) defined permissive parenting as those who “do not impose limits, rarely discipline the child, are warm and accepting, and often offer unconditional support” (p. 426).  Finally, the last parenting style rejecting-neglecting, or simply neglectful, can be characterized as “sometimes labeled as uninvolved, do not engage their children often, either in discipline encounters or in encouragement of personal development” (p. 426).  Through this study there will be an examination on whether there is any particular relationship between parents’ gender and age and how if any interaction is link with the parent’s particular parenting style.  

A longitudinal study Adalbjarnardottir and Hafsteinsson (2001), indicate, when asking 579 adolescent participants about their parent’s particular parenting style, which data seemed to be on polar opposites.  Half reported supportive parenting styles and the other half reported a potentially neglectful style.  The two parenting styles that received the highest ratings where authoritative, with 140 adolescents reporting this method and the neglectful parenting technique were reported by 120 other participants.  

Campbell and Gilmore (2007) examined parenting styles from the parents’ point of view.  They reported that “fathers in the sample tended to be slightly older and better educated than mothers” (p. 142).  It seems that, possessing a higher education and being an older male, when having children seems to have no direct relationship with any specific type of parenting style (Campbell & Gilmore, 2007).  Through self-reporting measures the parents categorized themselves mainly as participating in authoritative parenting.  With 40.6% of the mothers scoring themselves as being authoritative and 39.1% of the fathers scoring themselves under the same category.  However, “the strongest correlation that the two researchers found was if the father’s father had a permissive parenting style, those fathers would parent permissively as well, with a correlation of .51” (Campbell & Gilmore, 2007 p. 145). 

Campbell and Gilmore (2007) also found a correlation, with the more education the parent receives the less authoritarian they perceive themselves.  The reason that these two studies differ is that “when parents report their own parenting styles, authoritativeness is negatively associated with permissiveness, and unrelated to authoritarianism.  However, when they rate the parenting they receive from their own parents, authoritativeness is associated positively with permissiveness and negatively with authoritarianism (p. 147).  This suggests that your parents parenting style will determine how you parent and your views on certain parenting styles.  These researchers also reported a relationship between a higher education obtained and a more authoritative parenting style presented. 

In this same study however, there was a “significant positive correlation that was fount between current parents’ level of education and their own authoritativeness” (Campbell & Gilmore, 2007, p. 147).  Along with this discovery there was a “significant negative correlation where found between current parents’ level of education and their owned authoritarianism” (p. 147).  In another study Campbell and Gilmore (2007) conducted found that “sons are more likely to receive higher levels of authoritarian parenting and lower levels of authoritative parenting than daughters” (p. 148).  It is far less acceptable to parent a female child with an authoritarian style than it is to parent a male child in the same manner. 

While Campbell and Gilmore (2007) found a correlation between education and parenting habits, Scaramella, et al. (2008) found that education was not correlated with the parents’ economic status.  However, there did seem to be a link with low economic status.  If the parent fell under low economic standards many times it seemed that they were a younger parent.  In other words, younger parents tended to be in a lower socio economic status.  As Scaramella, et al. (2008) predicted “age of parenthood emerged as a critical link between socioeconomic disadvantage and harsh parenting” (p. 730). The researchers concurred with the previous research that the younger the parent is the more likely they are to participate in a harsher parenting style.  For example, these parents may use corporal punishment with their children.  In this same study no statistically significant gender differences were reported (Scaramella et al., 2008).  This, however, was not a conclusive finding with all the other studies done on parenting styles.  There was small evidence that may lead to the discovery of gender differences determine your parenting style but there no significant statistics to support this hypothesis. 

Gaertner, Spinrad, Eisenberg, and Greving (2007) found a substantial gender difference, with higher numbers of fathers having authoritarian attitudes than mothers.  However, “mothers’ authoritarian and protective attitudes were uncorrelated, as were the father’s” (p. 733).  Then again, McGillicuddy-De Lisi and De Lisi (2007) established through their study that in society it is more tolerant for fathers to possess authoritarian parenting rather than mothers.  Through this same study it was discovered that individuals believed that mothers should be more permissive while their counter-part, the fathers, should hold a firm hand over their children. 

The purpose this study hopes to help add to the already substantial amount of evidence to the parenting style research community.  Campbell and Gilmore (2007) sets the  tone with how important this research is  because, “parenting skills are among the most powerful predictors of child developmental outcomes, it is vital to understand the ways in which parenting practices may be transmitted across generations.  It is also important to develop this understanding for normative populations prior to investigation mechanism that ma operate in atypical or at-risk families” (p. 148).  By discovering parenting styles of individuals and the outcome of those children under particular parenting styles there can be further research conducted in more extensiveness to help find these at-risk families and add additional parenting information to inform parents about the “best way” to parent their children.  Families that use neglectful or permissive are the ones who children are more likely to end up experimenting with drugs, not finishing school, or even in jail.  Research that is out there right now seems to pull back and forth on rather there is any correlation on parenting styles and the parents’ gender, age, and education.  The purpose of this research is to see if the age or gender of parents is a good predictor of a parents’ parenting style among those who take their kids to a daycare center. 



            Twenty parents (14 females, 10 males) were asked to fill out a survey.  Some of the parents sent their children to the Harris Center, a daycare facility located in Sedalia, MO.  While other participants were members of the general public.  The sample contained individuals of different educational levels, ages, and races.  Received surveys held a combination of females and male parents.  


            The survey used consisted of 17 questions.  The first 6 questions, demographic items, asked the parents’ age, gender, race, number of children, and children’s ages.  The remaining eleven items were extracted from Pawel’s (1998) “Parenting Style Quiz”.  Each question was asked in a multiple choice format.  For example, after the question “What is the parent’s job” participants chose one of the following responses:  a). “to make children behave and to obey authority and rules, b). to provide constant supervision/structured rules so children will act/ choose “right”, c). to make sure children have a happy, carefree childhood, or d). to let children learn the proper skills and behavior on their own (see Appendix A).  The survey was typed, printed on regular paper, and participants used a writing utensil to complete the survey.  The scores were then run through SPSS were the means of parents of distribution in the type of parenting style (see Table 1).  Total number of each parenting style was also placed in a pie chart to see what parenting style was represented the most (see Figure 1).  The information found was run in 2X2 ANOVA.


            Consent forms were distributed to those parents whose child/children attended Harris Center or parents from the general public.  After signing the consent form participants were given a copy of the survey. Questionnaires were handed out to those participants.  They completed and returned the survey to the researcher. Participants returned the survey to the researcher.  The researcher then in turn provided the participants the debriefing form.  Responses were anonymous, no names were used, and completed surveys were returned in an envelope. 


The results found in the sample there was a significant negative correlation between gender and educational level.  In other words, women were associated with having completed higher levels of education, r (24) =-.42, p<.05.  Parents who scored higher on a measure of authoritarian were associated with significantly lower scores for authoritative parenting, r (24) =-.54, p<.01.  Also, parents who scored higher on a measure of authoritative were associated with significantly lower scores for neglectful parenting style, r (24) =-.62, p<.001.  A 2(age) x 2(gender) ANOVA was conducted on authoritarian scores.  Results were that there were no significant interactions or main effects.  A 2(age) x 2(gender) ANOVA was conducted on authoritative scores.  Additional results were that there were no significant interactions or main effects.  A 2(age) x 2(gender) ANOVA was conducted on neglectful scores.  Other results were that there were no significant interactions or main effects.  A 2(age) x 2(gender) ANOVA was conducted on permissive scores.   Although there was no significant main effect for gender the results are approaching significance, F (1, 18) =3.24, p=.088.  There was a significant interaction with age and gender, F (1, 18) =5.18, p<.05. The effect size for this significant finding is η2=.22, indicating 22% of the variance in permissive parenting scores is accounted for by this interaction.  Young men (under the age of 25) were found to have the lowest level permissive parenting (M=1.25).  Young women had the highest permissive scores (M=3.40).  The hypothesis that younger parents had a permissive parenting style was partially supported.  The hypothesis was supported in a significant interaction for younger women but not for younger men.   The hypotheses that men are more authoritarian and women more authoritative parents were not found to be supported.


Most of the hypotheses were not supported; the one that was supported was a significant interaction between gender and age on permissive parenting styles. Young men were found to be least permissive while young women had scored the highest on being permissive.  This finding may be explained by mothers being warmer and accepting with their children while offering unconditional support.  On the other hand fathers may impose more limits with their children than that of mothers.  Men may also be more in charge of the discipline with the child in everyday parenting of the child.

Limitations that occurred during the research were one participant filled out half of the survey and just stopped answering questions half way through the survey.  Another limitation was that there was a lack of parents that wanted to participate in the survey at the Harris Center the primary place to conduct data. 


Adalbajarnardottir, S., & Hafsteinsson, L. G.  (2001). Adolescents’ perceived parenting styles      and their substance use:  Concurrent and longitudinal analyses [Electronic version].       Journal of Research on Adolescence, 11, 401-423.

Campbell, J., & Gilmore, L. (2007).  Intergenerational continuities and discontinuities                   in parenting styles [Electronic version].  Australian Journal of Psychology, 59,140-150.

Gaertner, B. M., Spinrad, T. L., Eisenberg, N., & Greving, K. A. (2007).  Parental                         childrearing attitudes as correlates of father involvement during infancy [Electronic       version].  Journal of Marriage and Family, 69, 962-976.

McGillicuddy-De Lisi, A. V., & De Lisi, R. (2007).  Perceptions of family relations                       when mothers and father are depicted with different parenting styles [Electronic version].       The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 168, 425-442.

Pawel, J. (1998). Parenting styles quiz.  The parent’s toolshop.  Retrieved September 17,   2008, from http://www.parentstoolshop.com/HTML/quiz.html                                                                                                                                                     

Scaramella, L., Neppl, T., Ontai, L., & Conger, R. (2008). Consequences of

socioeconomic disadvantage across three generations:  Parenting behavior and child externalizing problems [Electronic version].  Journal of Family Psychology, 22, 725-733.






 Appendix A:  Survey used to conduct parenting styles information.


Parenting Styles Quiz

            Questions on children

1.      Number of children:____________

2.      Ages of each of the children:___________

Questions on Parents

3.       Your Age:___________

4.      Amount of School completed:_____________

5.      Gender/Sex:_____________

6.      Race/Ethnicity:___________________

7. What is the parent's job?

  1. To make children behave and to obey authority and rules.
  2. To provide constant supervision/structured rules so children will act/choose "right."
  3. To make sure children have a happy, carefree childhood.
  4. To let children learn the proper skills and behavior on their own

8. Who is responsible for controlling the child's behavior?

  1. Parents must stay in charge and children should obey their rules.
  2. Children should do what the more experienced and knowledgeable parents say.
  3. Parents should explain to the children why they should behave and ask for their cooperation.
  4. Children can figure out their own limits through trial and error.

9. Who has rights?

  1. The parents have all the rights, just because they are adults; children have few or no rights.
  2. Parents have superior knowledgeable and experience; therefore they have more rights.
  3. Children's rights and needs are more important than the parents.
  4. Children have rights as long as the parents aren't inconvenienced.

10. Who gets respect?

  1. Children are expected to respect parents, but parents are not obligated to respect children.
  2. Children have to earn their parents' respect before they will receive it.
  3. Parents should respect their children so the children will be happy.
  4. Children act disrespectful now and then, it's no big deal.

11. How are mistakes handled?

  1. Children must be punished if they break the rules. The punishment must either make the child feel bad or inconvenience the child somehow.
  2. Parents can correct children's mistakes by expressing disappointment, offering constructive criticism, urging children to try harder, and telling them how to fix the mistake and prevent it later.
  3. It is a parent's responsibility to fix children's mistakes or protect children from the negative effects.
  4. Others (besides the parents and children) are probably to blame for the children's mistakes.

12. How are problems solved and decisions made?

  1. The problems will go away on their own; if not, the parents can deal with it later.
  2. Parents have the right answers, so the children should follow their advice.
  3. Parents should monitor their children's activities, set goals for the child, and offer rewards or incentives for reaching the goals.
  4. Parents should try to find out what the children want and make them happy.

13. How are negative feelings handled?

  1. Everything will go smoother if children keep their negative feelings to themselves.
  2. Children should not express negative feelings because it shows defiance and disrespect.
  3. Children should think and feel what their parents think and feel is "right."
  4. Parents should protect or rescue children from negative feelings.

14. Who decides how children should behave, which interests they pursue and the goals they set?

  1. Children can figure out how to behave and what interests/goals to pursue through trial and error.
  2. Parents should tell children what to do and the goals to pursue and make them follow through.
  3. Parents should set high standards for children and choose interests/goals that will help the children succeed as adults.
  4. Children should be allowed to do whatever interests/goals they want so they'll be happy.

15. Who makes the rules and how are they enforced?

  1. If parents set and enforce limits, their children will feel too constricted and rebel.
  2. Parents should tell their children what to do, and children should obey without question.
  3. Parents can set structured rules and correct children with constructive criticism and advice.
  4. If parents politely remind children to behave, they eventually will.

16. How can parents motivate children?

  1. Children should be responsible for motivating themselves.
  2. Children can be motivated through commands and threats.
  3. Children can be motivated by rewards and incentives, acceptance and praise.
  4. If parents do enough for their children, the children will be happy and motivated.

17. How do parents discipline?

  1. Children can monitor their own behavior.
  2. Punishment should be uncomfortable or inconvenient so misbehavior will stop.
  3. Parents should make their children feel bad for misbehaving and take away special privileges.
  4. Parents shouldn't punish their children too often or they will lose their children's love.




Table 1

Break down of each parenting style by gender.

Gender Distribution Parenting Styles





1.07 (1.33)

.78 (1.09)


5.93 (1.62)

6.44 (2.6)


3.00 (1.13)

2.22 (1.56)


.67 (.90)

1.33 (2.06)















Submitted 04/29/2009
Accepted 05/28/2009

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