Internally and externally controlling parenting: Relations with children’s symptomatology and adjustment
Controlling parenting is associated with children’s poorer adjustment and well-being. This study used a Self-Determination Theory framework to distinguish between types of internally (guilt induction and love-withdrawal) and externally (yelling/demanding and punishment/removal of privileges) controlling parenting, and examined whether the types showed differential relations with children’s internalizing and externalizing symptomatology and self-related (self-worth and self-regulation) and relational (attachment) outcomes. One hundred seventeen 5th and 6th grade students (mean age = 11.07; 52% male; 57% European American) completed questionnaires. Results revealed that the four types of controlling parenting could be measured as separate constructs, though they were highly related. All types of controllingness were associated with children’s higher symptoms, less secure attachment, and lower self-worth. Only externally controlling methods related to children’s lower autonomous self-regulation. A person-centered approach with cluster analysis supported that the types of controlling parenting could be meaningfully distinguished. Children in the profiles high in all types of controllingness reported the most symptoms while those low in all types reported the fewest. Beyond this, children in the high external control (punishment/privileges) profile showed lower autonomous self-regulation, less secure attachment, and higher anxiety than those in profiles low in all controllingness. Children in profiles high in all controlling methods showed less secure attachment and higher anxiety and depression than those high in only punishment/privileges. Findings underscore the importance of understanding not only whether parents are controlling, but how they implement control and offer important recommendations for working with parents.
Journal of Child and Family Studies
attachment, child symptomatology, controlling parenting, self-regulation, self-worth
Levitt, Madeline R.; Grolnick, Wendy S.; Caruso, Alessandra J.; and Lerner, Rachel E., "Internally and externally controlling parenting: Relations with children’s symptomatology and adjustment" (2020). Psychology. 448.