Parenting in context: A systematic review of the correlates of autonomy support

Rebecca Distefano, Alyssa S. Meuwissen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Research has shown that autonomy-supportive parenting is associated with positive academic and socioemotional outcomes across childhood. Many studies have examined the correlates of parental autonomy support to understand who is most likely to be autonomy-supportive and under what conditions. The current systematic review synthesized findings from 63 studies that explored how sociodemographic, familial, parental, and situational factors are related to autonomy-supportive parenting. Results indicated that sociodemographic factors did not reliably predict autonomy support across studies. Parental factors, including socialization goals, need satisfaction, and mental health, were consistently linked with autonomy support. We propose a contextual model of autonomy support in which the associations between distal factors and autonomy-supportive parenting are mediated by parental factors, with situational factors moderating the relation between parental factors and autonomy support. Suggestions for future research include reconciling discrepant findings across different measurement approaches and considering how developmental timing influences the factors associated with autonomy-supportive parenting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-592
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Family Theory and Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Amy Riegelman, social sciences librarian at the University of Minnesota, for her guidance on developing the search protocol. Preparation of this article was supported in part by the Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from the University of Minnesota (Distefano).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 National Council for Family Relations.


  • autonomy-supportive parenting
  • determinants of parenting
  • systematic review


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