Parental support, psychological control, and behavioral control: Assessing relevance across time, culture, and method

Brian K. Barber, Heidi E. Stolz, Joseph A. Olsen, W. Andrew Collins, Margaret Burchinal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

717 Scopus citations


This Monograph reports on a series of systematic analyses of commonly studied measures of parenting (support, psychological control, and behavioral control). The purpose of the studies was to bring more precision to understanding how these dimensions of parenting are linked with measures of adolescent functioning. A specialized relationships framework linking the parenting dimensions with adolescent functioning (social initiative, depression, antisocial behavior) was derived from past theory and from past empirical work that had tested parts of the framework. Structural equation analysis was used to test and refine the framework on a sample of U.S. adolescents, ages 11-17. Results both confirmed and extended past work. Perceived parental support was linked particularly with social initiative (and also with lower depression); parental psychological control was associated primarily with depression (and also with antisocial behavior); perceived parental behavioral control was associated primarily with lower antisocial behavior. This framework was then validated in the U.S. data for all demographic subgroups of the sample and across multiple waves of data, using multiple analytic strategies. Next, it was tested using the same measurement in 10 additional samples of adolescents, ages 13-17, from nations or ethnic groups in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America. In every case, the framework was supported. As a further effort at thorough validation, the framework was also assessed in all 11 samples using dominance analysis, a rank and order approach to predictor importance. The findings of these analyses again supported the validity of the framework, and also offered some insight into potential differences in the relative importance of mothering and fathering. Based on the long-standing theoretical endorsement of these parenting dimensions, on accumulated partial evidence from a history of investigating their associations with elements of child and adolescent functioning, and on the several forms of validation pursued in this Monograph, suggestions were made as to what the evidence might imply as to the broader relevance of the findings. Specifically, it was suggested that these forms of perceived parenting are family-realm indicators of the broader, facilitative social conditions of "connection," "respect for individuality," and "regulation.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-147
Number of pages147
JournalMonographs of the Society for Research in Child Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005


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