Understanding the Racial Differences in Parenting Styles in the United States: An Analysis of Juvenile Delinquency and Parenting Styles in Nigeria

Bamidele Andrew Odubote, University of Minnesota

Parenting styles have often been associated with delinquency. Parenting styles that include high levels of parent-child communication, modest and complimentary amounts of control and independence (authoritative) have been associated with positive adolescent outcomes (Baumrind 1971; Maccoby & Martin 1983). Conversely, more restrictive parenting styles with high levels of control and little independence (authoritarian) have been associated with delinquency (Baumrind 19761).

Family policies in the United States have often been based on these studies, recommending authoritative parenting style at the expense of authoritarian parenting style with little sensitivity to critical cultural distinctions. Contrary to family policies in the United States, literature has suggested that parental strictness (authoritarian style) is linked to positive child outcome among racial minority families most especially African Aerican and Chinese families (Lin & Fu 1990; Chao 1994). Some studies have claimed that authoritarian parenting style among Arican Americans is a survival strategy adopted by the group to cope with its environment and racial status (Brofenbrenner 19769; Ogbu 1981). Some other studies however suggest that this parenting style is a heritage from their African origin (Dobson 1975, 1977; McAdoo 1997). These studies are however speculative, with relatively olittle empirical evidence.

This study is an empirical research of the influence of parenting style on juvenile delinquency in an African country. This study would among other things test whether the theoretical model of parenting styles outlined by Baumrind (1971) represents the relationship of family variables to delinquency only for American families, or whether the model is more generally applicable across diverse populations. I hypothesize that the authoritarian style is not related to delinquency in the African context and that it may in fact have beneficial effects for youths in Nigeria. This proposition is tested using a secondary dataset on European and African American adolescents titled Maryland Adolescent Growth in Context and a primnary data this investigator collected from 479 Nigerian adolescents and their parents in 2002.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006