Congruence of Parents' and Children's Perceptions of Parenting: A Meta-Analysis

J Youth Adolesc. 2016 Oct;45(10):1973-95. doi: 10.1007/s10964-016-0524-0. Epub 2016 Jul 5.


Parents and children often report different perspectives about parents' behaviors. Such lack of congruence is important because it may reflect problems in their relationship and may be associated with children's maladjustment. We conducted a systematic, quantitative review of parent-child agreement and discrepancy about parenting behaviors, and potential moderators (e.g., children's age, race, clinical status, family intactness) of the extent of mother-child and father-child congruence. The meta-analyses included 85 studies with 476 effect sizes of the degree of agreement and discrepancy in parent-child reports of three parenting behaviors: Acceptance, Psychological Control, and Behavioral Control assessed with one of the most widely-used measures of parenting-the Children's Report of Parental Behavior Inventory. Mother-child and father-child dyads exhibited significant but modest levels of agreement (r) across parenting constructs. The amount and direction of discrepancy (Hedges' g) varied by the parenting construct and parents' sex. Overall, parents' reports were more favorable than their children's report about the parents' behaviors. Significant associations were found between the magnitude of agreement/discrepancy and children's age, race, clinical status, and family intactness. Moderators differed by parenting construct, parents' sex, and type of effect size. Implications of these findings for researchers and clinicians are discussed and highlight the need for further research about the meaning of parent-child incongruence, its relation to children's psychopathology, and interventions for reducing it.

Keywords: Discrepancy; Parenting behavior; Parent–child agreement.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attitude*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / diagnosis
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology
  • Culture*
  • Father-Child Relations
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Social Adjustment