How is parental behavioural and psychological control associated with of-spring’s wellbeing?

Parent-child relationships play the main role in the psychological development of the child. This parent-child relationship is studied in two dimensions, the parental care, and the parental demandingness or control.

The dimension of parental care reflects affectionate, warm, responsive parenting as well as cold and unresponsive parenting. Whereas, the control dimension reflects the extent to which the parent demands and monitors standards for their child’s conduct. The control dimension itself is separated into two groups, behavioural control which can provide a structured and predictable environment for the child, and psychological control that refers to parenting that is intrusive and manipulates the child’s emotional development. But how are parental behavioural control and psychological control associated with well-being indicators during the off-spring's life?


According to Wang, Pomerantz, & Chen, 2007, behavioural control, is linked to a lower risk of psychological symptoms. Whereas, psychological control is associated with a reduced risk of the psychological disorder among the offspring in adolescence and adulthood.

On the other hand, psychological control can reduce a child’s autonomy and impair the development of self-regulation whilst behavioural control can increase a child’s competence. Flouri, 2004, found that daughters, but not sons of non-controlling mothers have higher life satisfaction at age 30. Purpose in life, self-acceptance and positive relations, are some of the mental wellbeing aspects that are negatively associated with parental psychological control.

High parental care promotes social- and neuro-cognitive development for positive interpersonal relations and behaviour as well as positive adult relationships. When infants experience caring relationships and are more securely attached to their parents, they are more likely to continue this attachment in later relationships. Social support and strong social networks are important determinants of positive mental well-being, hence, they are at a lower risk of developing psychological disorders.


Psychological inflexibility among the offspring in adolescence, greater emotion suppression in late childhood and poorer emotion regulation in early adulthood, are some of the effects that come as a result of intrusive parenting and low parental care.


Socioeconomic factors are also indicated by parent-child relationships. When parents show high care and high behavioural control the children are capable to reach higher educational attainment, higher occupational position and higher income in adulthood. Maternal care and control are found to be related to offspring’s self-esteem, neuroticism and extraversion. Moreover, mental health wellbeing in adulthood is highly associated with education socioeconomic status.

Source: Parent–child relationships and offspring’s positive mental wellbeing from adolescence to early older age.
M. Stafford et al. 2015
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