Parenting style and adolescent depressive symptoms, smoking, and academic achievement: ethnic, gender, and SES differences

J Behav Med. 1996 Jun;19(3):289-305. doi: 10.1007/BF01857770.


This paper examines whether the relationship between parenting style and adolescent depressive symptoms, smoking, and academic grades varies according to ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status. Four parenting styles are distinguished, based on patterns of parent-adolescent decision making: autocratic (parents decide), authoritative (joint process but parents decide), permissive (joint process but adolescent decides), and unengaged (adolescent decides). The sample included 3993 15-year-old White, Hispanic, African-American, and Asian adolescents. Results are generally consistent with previous findings: adolescents with authoritative parents had the best outcomes and those with unengaged parents were least well adjusted, while the permissive and the autocratic styles produced intermediate results. For the most part, this pattern held across ethnic and sociodemographic subgroups. There was one exception, suggesting that the relationship between parenting styles, especially the unengaged style, and depressive symptoms may vary according to gender and ethnicity. More research is needed to replicate and explain this pattern in terms of ecological factors, cultural norms, and socialization goals and practices.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / ethnology
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • African Americans / psychology
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Asian Americans / psychology
  • Asian Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • California / epidemiology
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Decision Making
  • Depression / ethnology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Ethnopsychology / statistics & numerical data
  • Family Health* / ethnology
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino / psychology
  • Hispanic or Latino / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations / ethnology
  • Parenting* / ethnology
  • Parenting* / psychology
  • Power, Psychological
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking / ethnology*
  • Smoking / psychology
  • Socialization
  • Students / psychology
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Whites / psychology
  • Whites / statistics & numerical data