Perceived Parental Authority And Self-Esteem Among Young Adults


Parenting styles play vital role in development of adult self-esteem, and influence of both mother and father is crucial in this regard. Individual and Cultural differences impede the universal consensus on best parenting style for psychological well-being in later life. Collectivist cultures are believed to practice more authority and less flexibility that negatively affect the self-esteem. Current study followed the correlational survey design to investigate the perception regarding father and mother’s parenting styleand self-esteem of young adults.Parental Authority Questionnaire based on Baumrind’s parenting typology (Authoritative, Permissive, and Authoritarian) and Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale was administered on 234 participants that were randomly selected from different universities. The sample consists of 86 male and 148 female adults of age 18 to 27 years. Results revealed that participant’s perception of parenting style was not affected by participants’ gender. Mother’s parenting style had no relationship with self-esteem whereas father’s parenting style had significant influence on self-esteem development. Authoritarian and authoritative parenting style has positive and negative relationship respectively with the self-esteem in later life.The authoritative parenting style does not cater high level of self-esteem in collectivist culture indicating that the relationship between these variables is not concrete and subject to vary in context of different ethnicities. Authoritarian fathers found to facilitate the development of high self-esteem during adult age while authoritative fathers deter this.

Keywords: Parenting StylesAuthoritarianAuthoritativePermissiveSelf-esteemYoung Adults


It is a truth universally acknowledged that parents play an extremely vital role in the upbringing of a child. The first interaction of new born with the world is through and under supervision of parents. They are the ones fulfilling the psychological needs of a child. Starting from the early stages of life, whatever the child learn such as language, feelings, emotions, values, manners and routine actions all are guided by the parents’ behaviours and their teachings. Parents do this by adopting certain parenting styles and techniques, usually opting for methods of childrearing that they think will be the most beneficial for their children and continue to practice them until the child is old enough to live independently. However, the question about which technique would be the best to use when dealing with children and how it affect their psychological adjustment in later life, is one that almost every single parent ponders over at one point or the other.

In the late 1960s, growing interest of psychologist Diana Baumrind bring into light the most followed parenting styles and their role in development of healthy personality, that resulted in the development of Pillar Theory. This theory states the relationship between parenting styles and the behaviour of children by focusing on three main parenting styles followed universally: authoritative, authoritarian and permissive. According to Baumrind (1966), authoritarian style is demanding and strict, authoritative is demanding with feelings of warmth and affection, and permissive is one that does not display any strictness, and is the friendliest of all parenting styles.

There are two main facets of parenting styles that are practiced by parents; responsiveness and demandingness (Driscoll, 2013; Martinez, Garcia, & Yubero, 2007; Hong, Hong, &Rahman, 2015; Joseph& John, 2008; Kimble, 2009; Martinez& Garcia, 2007; Nketsia, 2013; Rodrigues,Veiga, Fuentes, &García, 2013). Parental responsiveness is when parents are supportive, show love and warmth and are greatly involved in the life of their child, fostering individuality and self-affirmation by keeping the communication channel open. In that way they know the needs of their child. On the other hand, demandingness or control element makes parents stricter by keeping high expectations from their children to fulfil their parental demands. It consists of requirements of parents from children to make them more integrated in their household and family, as well as the society. Parents aim to attain this by practicing discipline and supervision (Baumrind, 1991; Hong et al., 2015; Martinez& Garcia, 2007; Nketsia, 2013).

Based upon these two dimensions or elements of parenting, Baumrind (1991) identified three parenting styles; authoritative, authoritarian and permissive (Wolff, 2000). The authoritarian parenting style is one that rates high on the dimension of demandingness, while rates low on responsiveness, authoritative is one that rates high on both responsiveness and demandingness, and permissive parenting style rates high on responsiveness but low on demandingness (Martinez& Garcia, 2007). The Authoritarian style demands obedience and respect (Huver, Otten, Vries, & Engels, 2010), and involves rigid rules that parents set in order to shape the behaviour of their children (Wolff, 2000). Children raised under this parenting style are not given the freedom to do as they please, but have to follow the authority of their parents .

Permissive or indulgent parenting style is one that grants autonomy to the children, and the parents are not strict, controlling or demanding (Joseph, & John, 2008), but instead try to avoid conflict as much as possible (Baumrind, 1989). Permissive parents are less controlled and do not play their role as authority figures (Baumrind, 1966; Chang, 2007; Kausar, & Shafique, 2008). They let their children strum up their own rules and regulations, rather than themselves setting up certain limits and boundaries for the children to follow (Kimble, 2009).

Problem Statement

The purpose of this study was to relate the self-esteem with the parenting styles, the number of researches that have been carried out is scant , but the ones that have been done show a positive relationship between the two . Studies suggest that parenting styles and self-esteem are interconnected, and that parenting styles have a significant impact on the self-esteem of individuals (Khan, Tufail, & Hussain, 2014). Findings from Baumrind’s (1971, 1991) researches showed that the individuals who have been raised by authoritative parents are the well-adjusted and have a better psychosocial understanding (Rodrigues et al., 2013). Children who were raised by mothers who were less affectionate towards them had a lower self-esteem than those children whose mothers showed more affection and love (Wolff, 2000; Hosogi, Okada, Fujii, Noguchi, & Watanabe, 2012). Those children who were shown acceptance by parents, and also had to follow the rules and boundaries set by the parents at the same time have an enhanced self-esteem (Driscoll, 2013). This type of parenting style practice is similar to the authoritative parenting style suggested by Baumrind (1991). Children who were raised by authoritative parents displayed not only greater levels of self-esteem, but also higher levels of life satisfaction as well as low levels of depression when compared to children who were not raised under an authoritative parenting style (Gogolinski, 2012; Milevsky, Schlechter, Klem, &Kehl, 2008).

Previous literature related to parenting styles and self-esteem shows that the two variables have a significant existing relationship, but majority of the studies have been conducted in the Western culture that is different from collectivist culture in Pakistan. Studies conducted in different cultures like Arab and African societies show different results (Nketsia, 2013), so it shows that culture regulates the selection of parenting styles. It is important to know the impact parenting styles have on the psychological adjustment of individuals in our society so that awareness can be created, and parents can be more enlightened as to what might be the best technique and what behaviours to show while raising their children. Hence, the current research was conducted in order to explore whether or not the parenting styles that are practiced have an impact on the self-esteem of individuals.

Research Questions

In order for an individual to have a healthy personality, and to grow and mature as a person, it is vital to acquire optimal level of self-esteem. The American Psychological Association defines self-esteem as the overall general evaluative attitude an individual has towards the self which impacts both moods and behaviour of that individual, and also affects variety of personal and social behaviours (Gerrig, & Zimbardo, 2010). Father of Humanism, Abraham Maslow emphasized this in his famous theory on “Hierarchy of Needs”. He stated that in order for a person to become self-actualized, it is necessary that the esteem needs of a person be met. However, if these needs are not met, feelings of inferiority and helplessness will increase resulting in amplification of life difficulties and nuisance to move forward in life (Maslow, 1991). Furthermore he highlighted the fulfilment of love and belonging needs as a stepping stone in achieving healthy self-esteem. The needs of love and belongingness contain friendship, love and affection from ones family, friends, and influential others. Therefore parents love and warmth toward a child is more important.

Until the time of adolescent years, the most important or significant figures in an individual’s life are generally the parents . Parents practice certain parenting styles that have a great impact on the personalities of their children, including various components among that most crucial is development of self-esteem (Hong et al., 2015; Kimble, 2009; Kausar, &Shafique, 2008), and are what define the overall environment of the parent and child interactions (Darling & Steinberg, 1993). The aim of the parenting style used is to mould the behaviour of children according to the fitting needs of the parents and the society (Hong et al., 2015). Starting from the above mentioned premises the current study aimed to investigate that existence of relationship between the self-esteem of individuals and parenting styles executed by parents. Furthermore, the most crucial parenting style in elating the self-esteem of young adults.

Purpose of the Study

The concept of self-esteem is one that has been greatly researched upon, especially in the field of social and educational Psychology (Baumeister, 1993; Rosenberg, Schooler, Schoenbach, & Rosenberg, 1995). It is seen by some psychologists as the most important component of the self-concept of an individual (Cast, 2002) as it helps in evaluating the self (Werff, 1990) in form of personal judgement about him/herself, especially concerning feelings of worthiness as well as the beliefs and attitudes the individual holds. An individual can feel useless and contemptible or feel worthy towards him or herself, producing either positive or negative self-esteem . It is vital for an individual to have a healthy self-esteem , as when people with a low self-esteem come across negative feedback, they start to feel even more unworthy and bad about themselves resulting in a more negative self-evaluation (Brown& Marshall, 2006), depression, and anxiety (Arens, & Hasselhorn, 2014). While those who have high self-esteem levels are more motivated to complete tasks and succeed in life (Khan et al., 2014), which in the words of Maslow (1991) means an individual is one step closer to self-actualization.

Self-esteem develops in an individual in a number of ways , and an individual’s feelings, beliefs and behaviours greatly influence its formation till the late adult age (Bilal, Sadiq, & Ali, 2013; Sona, 2017). According to the concept of the “looking-glass self” given by Cooley (1902), self-judgement and social milieu cannot be separated . He believed that the roots of development of self-esteem are embedded in the early childhood of individuals, during which exposure to positivity such as unconditional love, trust and security are important in determining how an individual will start to see and evaluate him or herself as he or she grows up . According to the theory of symbolic interactionism, individuals tend to internalize the views and attitudes expressed by the important figures in their lives . Hence, a child will grow up valuing him or herself as much as his/her significant others valued him . If the main figures in a child’s life treat him/her badly and make them feel inferior, reject, humiliate or degrade, it is likely to result in the development of low self-esteem . Due to this reason, the curiosity of many researchers has been piqued as to whether or not there is a relationship between the attitude of parents and the self-esteem of individuals , which is what this study will be exploring.

Present study aimed to further explore the relationship between parenting styles and the self-esteem of individuals in context of collectivist culture, and to bring about better understanding as to which parenting style helps in raising a healthy and stable individual.As mentioned, there have been few studies conducted in Asia (Hong et al., 2015). A study conducted on Iranian children show mother’s authoritative parenting style as strong predictor of self-esteem (Moghaddam, Validad, Rakhshani, &Assareh, 2017). Studies conducted in Spain, Malaysia, Portugal and Italy showed development of high self-esteem under permissive parents (Garcia &Gracia, 2009;Garcia et al., 2007)while in Ghana, no significant difference in the self-esteem of individuals under all three parenting styles were found . A comparison between German and United States adolescents showed that different parenting styles have different meanings across cultures . Hence, we see that more research needs to be conducted on the issue, especially in Asia. Almost all the literature belongs to studies carried out in the West, and all the researches that have done in Pakistan focus more on the impact of parenting styles on the academic performance of individuals (Khan et al., 2014; Kiani, 2015), rather than on the self-esteem or psychological adjustment that in turn affect academic performance (Bilal, Sadiq, & Ali, 2013).

Culture plays crucial role in the relationship among parenting styles and self-esteem development (Martinez & Garcia, 2007) therefore present study is bridging this gap by providing a little insight to what actually is the relationship between the two variables in the country of Pakistan. Moreover, as previously mentioned researchers mainly focused on children and adolescents, while current research has been carried out with adolescents and young adults, with majority of the participants belonging to universities to see the childhood experiences’ lastingtill lateadult personality. The current research also focuses on parental practices carried out by both parents; mother and father individually, rather than just centering on the dominating parent. This will help us in gaining more insight about the difference in parental practices executed by the mother and the father. So to fulfill the study purpose following hypotheses were made:

H-1: Parenting styles do have the relationship with the self-esteem of adults.

H-2: Authoritative parenting style will have a positive relationship with the self-esteem.

H-3: Authoritarian parenting style will have a negative relationship with the self-esteem.

H-4: Permissive parenting style will have a negative relationship with the self-esteem.

Research Method

Correlational survey approach was followed to find the relationship between perceived parenting styles of mother and father, and the self-esteem of young adults. The current study is a one shot hypothesis testing, as after reviewing the literature, a number of hypothesis were created which were then further tested with the help of a self-report data. The extent of interference by the researches is minimal in the study, and the study settings are non-contrived; Pre-existing standardized instruments were used to measure both the independent and dependent variables.

Informed consent was taken from the participants at the start of filling questionnaire. They were briefed about the nature of the study, anonymity of their responses, right to withdraw, as well as the use of information only for academic purpose. The research was carried out due to purely benevolent reasons, and to increase the knowledge about the impact of parenting styles on the self-esteem of the individuals in the society we live in. Furthermore, the data of the research was not manipulated, and the results were not tampered with as to make sure that the research remains credible and can be useful and referred to in the future.

Population and sample

For current study, the population consists of both male and female individuals of age 18 to 28. Purposive random sampling technique was followed to select total of234 adults from different universities of Pakistan. Among the study participants, 86 (36.7%) were male, and 148 (63.3%) were female participants of 18 to 28 (M = 22.6, SD = 2.03).Participants belonging from different ethnic and religious background had an equal chance to participate in current study as researcher do not focus on the differences caused by individual’s religious affiliations. Therefore this particular information is treated as confounding variable and was only recorded to maintain data of ethnic and religious backgrounds. The education level of the participants also varies from intermediate ( n = 31, 13.2 %), bachelors ( n = 31, 13.2 %), bachelors hons/masters ( n = 155, 66.2%), to M.Phil./MS ( n = 17, 7.3 %). Furthermore, 212 (90%) of the participants were raised by both parents, 16(7%) were raised by just the mother and 6 (2%) were raised by just the father. Hence, the sample was not homogenous, and consisted of individuals belonging to various ethnicities, as well as different age groups and educational qualifications.

. Instruments

Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale.In order to measure the global self-esteem of the adults, a ten item self-report scale developed by Morris Rosenberg (1965) was used. It is the widely used measurement to assess the self-acceptance as well as the self-worth of individuals. The items were answered using a four point Likert scale that ranges from strongly disagree = 0 to strongly agree = 3, respectively. The aggregate score is gathered out of 30, with a score lower than 15 demonstrating low levels of self-esteem, a score of 15 to 25 demonstrating normal self-esteem, and a score higher than 25 showcasing high levels of self-esteem in the individual. Five items; 2, 5, 6, 8 and 9 were reverse coded.

The scale has high reliability ratings, such as 0 .77 internal consistency, minimum Coefficient of Reproducibility rating at least 0.90 (Rosenberg, 1965). Previous studies using this instrument with parents and high school students showed high values of alpha coefficients ranging from 0.72 to 0.87. The Test-retest reliability of the scale was also found to be 0.82 after a two week as well as a seven month interval .

Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ). Based on Baumrind’s parenting typology, John R. Buri (1991) developed a questionnaire to measure the perceived parenting styles of both mother and father. It a self-report questionnaire of 30 items measuring the perception about three parenting styles: authoritarian, permissive and authoritative. In the questionnaire item number 1, 6, 10, 13, 14, 17, 18, 19, 21 and 24measures permissive parenting style, item number 2,3,7,9,12,16,18,25,26 and 29 for authoritarian parenting style, and item number 4, 5, 8, 11, 15, 20, 22, 23, 27, 28, and 30 authoritative parenting style . Responses were recorded on five point Likert Scale that ranges from strongly disagree = 1 to strongly agree = 5.

The Parental Authority Questionnaire is a measure that has been used in a number of studies by various researchers and has yielded reliable results making it a psychometrically comprehensive and a valid measure of Baumrind's parenting styles , and also had a very good reliability co-efficient for all three variables. According to Buri (1991), when the internal consistency of the Parental Authority Questionnaire was measured by calculating Cronbach’s Alpha coefficient, it was found to be 0.82 for the Authoritative parenting style, 0.75 for the Permissive parenting style and 0.85 for Authoritative parenting style which shows good consistency and reliability of the questionnaire ( Wang & Taylor, 2000 as cited in Nketsia, 2013).


The reliability coefficient of all four variables namely the self-esteem, Authoritarian parenting style, Permissive Parenting style and Authoritative parenting style indicate high internal consistency for Self-esteem scale, father and mother parental authority questionnaire, as shown in table 1 .

Table 1 -
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Table 2 -
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Note. SE= Self-esteem, PR= Permissive parenting style, AR= Authoritarian parenting style, AT= Authoritative parenting style; Min= Minimum; Max= Maximum; Vari= Variance; Skew= Skewness; Kurt= Kurtosis.

Table 3 -
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Note. SE= Self-esteem, PR= Permissive parenting style, AR= Authoritarian parenting style, AT= Authoritative parenting style; Min= Minimum; Max= Maximum; Vari= Variance; Skew= Skewness; Kurt= Kurtosis.

Table 4 -
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** p ≤0.01; * p ≤0.05; Note. SE= Self-esteem, PR= Permissive,

AR= Authoritarian, AT= Authoritative

The above results indicate anon-significant relationship between self-esteem of young adults and parenting styles followed by mother.

Table 5 -
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** p ≤0.01; * p ≤0.05; Note. SE= Self-esteem, PR= Permissive,

AR= Authoritarian, AT= Authoritative

The above results indicate a significant positive relationship between self-esteem and Authoritative parenting style, and negative relationship with Authoritative parenting style practiced by the father. Authoritative parenting style and Permissive parenting style also have a significant positive relationship, while Authoritarian parenting style and Permissive parenting style have a negative significant relationship. The single asterisks indicate that the correlation between the Authoritarian parenting style and self-esteem is significant at 0.05 level.

Hypothesis 1 was rejected for the mother’s parenting styles, while it was accepted for the father’s parenting styles. The results of the correlation show that there is no significant relationship between the parenting styles exhibited by the mother and the self-esteem of the individuals. While the hypothesis is accepted in the case of the father as the correlation between the Authoritarian parenting style and self-esteem of individuals is a positive (weak uphill) relationship that is significant at 0.05 level. Authoritative parenting style of the father also has a significant negative correlation with the self-esteem of individuals. These results show us that parenting styles do impact the self-esteem, both positively and negatively.

The findings of this research do not support Hypothesis 2, in the case of both the mother and the father. As mentioned, no significant correlation was found between the mother’s parenting styles and the self-esteem of individuals. The hypothesis is rejected because the results of the father’s PAQ show the opposite results, and show a significant negative relationship at 0.05 level between the authoritative parenting style and the self-esteem of individuals.

For Hypothesis 3 in the case of both the mother and the father, no significant correlation was found between the parenting styles adopted by the mother and the self-esteem of individuals, the results of the mother’s PAQ did show a negative correlation between self-esteem and authoritarian parenting style. The hypothesis is rejected because the results of the father’s PAQ are not compatible with H-3 and suggest a significant positive relationship at 0.05 level between the authoritative parenting style of the father and the self-esteem of individuals.

Furthermore, non-significant correlation was found between the permissive parenting style and the self-esteem of individuals due to which H-4 has been rejected. Even though no significant correlation was found, a positive correlation was found between the self-esteem of individuals and the permissive parenting style of the mother which shows us that the permissiveness shown by mothers and self-esteem move along side by side, in the same direction thus providing evidence against the current hypothesis.

The findings of this research suggest that in the Pakistani society, there is a stronger relationship between the parenting style of the father and the self-esteem of individuals than the relationship between the parenting style of the mother and the self-esteem of individuals as, non-significant correlation was found in the case of the mother. Paksiatn being patriarchal society have the dominant culture where fathers take the lead in family decisions, therefore they have more impact on psychological adujustment of the individuals than the behaviours of the mothers. The results of the Pearson Correlationfor mother’s parenting style and the self-esteem show a negative relation between self-esteem and Authoritative parenting style of the mother as mothers are laways the symbol of care and love. Current study findings are in line with Moghaddam et al (2017) as children rasied under authoritative mothers have low sel-esteems. Further, Rudy and Grusec (2006) concluded that authoritative parenting style of the mother associate with high-esteem only in the group that consisted of Western and European individuals (individualist group).

On the other hand, significnat positive correlation is present between the Authoritarian parenting style of the father and the self-esteem of individuals. The results of the group that consisted of collectivist parents such as those belonging to Pakistan showed that even though majority of the parents practiced authoritarian parenting style, the self-esteem of the children was still high (Moghaddam et al, 2017). Moreover, our culture demands to practice the values of obedience and respect, that’s the underlying element of authoritarian paretning style (Huver et al., 2010).These findings correspond with the results of the current study, as the individuals who have high self-esteem levels are those who have grown up under an authoritarian father figure, while those who have grown up under an authoritative father figure have lower self-esteem. Thus, authoritative parenting may not be appropriate in every culture (Bornstein & Bornstein, 2007), and it is not necessary for the authoritative style to always be associated with high self-esteem levels (Garcia et al., 2007). This finding highlights the importance of the influence of culture on the relationship between the parenting styles and self-esteem. Previous studies have already concluded that Asian parents are more likely to adopt an authoritarian parenting style as they like to have greater control upon their children (Chang, 2007). The results of a study that was conducted in Pakistan to see how parenting styles impact and influence the academic achievements of postgraduate students also show similarities to the findings of this research (Khanet al., 2014). This study found that in the Pakistani society, there is a significant relationship between the Authoritarian parenting style and the level of the academic achievement of the students for both males and females, while those who grew up under authoritative parenting style had no significant relationship with academic performance whatsoever. This finding further helps in the establishment of the idea that in the context of Pakistani culture and the workings of our society, authoritarian parenting is positively correlated with not just self-esteem, but also other areas of growth.

Six of the participants in this survey were raised by just their father, and so in order to get more insight into the relationship, the scores of these participants were checked separately. The self-esteem scores of participants were under 15 indicating a very low self-esteem, while the score of authoritative parenting in the results of both participants was the highest when compared to the other two parenting styles; permissive and authoritarian. This further helps us in understanding how even though the participants did not have another parental figure, and did not have to grow up under an authoritarian father figure meaning they were not exposed to high levels of strictness and demandingness, their self-esteem levels were still very low. This also proposes the possibility that Authoritarian parenting style works best in our society, but this topic is one that needs to be more researched upon before it can be generalized.


From current study findings we concluded that there is existing relationship between the self-esteem and the parenting styles practiced by parents. From the result it appears that authoritarian parenting style, specifically when practiced by the father proves to be the most beneficial for the self-esteem development in an individual. Cultural background and the surroundings in which an individual grows up are imperative in shaping personality as supported by findings of this research. Current study findings are not in line with previous researches and therefore providing new insight for future researchers interested in discovering relationship between self-esteem and parenting styles in longitudinal study that can provide detailed account on parenting styles followed by parents and the variation in development of self-esteem at various points in life since birth to adult personality development.


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