Parenting style, individuation, and mental health of

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style focus on their control of the child, and his/her obedience. They restrict the autonomy of their children and decide what appropriate behavior is for them (Baumrind, ..... of higher individuation is the expectation that offspring will become less ... financially, and functionally dependent on the family as they mature (Meyer, ...

Parenting style


Dwairy, M., & Menshar K. E. (2005). Parenting style, individuation, and mental health of adolescents in Egypt. Journal of adolescence. (in press). Abstract Three questionnaires that measure parenting style, adolescent-family connectedness, and mental health were administered to 351 Egyptian adolescents. Results show that in rural communities the authoritarian style is more predominant in the parenting of male adolescents, while the authoritative style is more predominant in the parenting of female adolescents. In urban communities, on the other hand, the authoritarian style was more predominant in the parenting of female adolescents. The connectedness of all female adolescents with their family was stronger than that of male adolescents. The connectedness of girls was found to be more emotional and financial in villages and to be more functional in town. Female adolescents reported a higher frequency of psychological disorders. Mental health was associated with authoritative parenting, but not with authoritarian parenting. It seems that authoritarian parenting within an authoritarian culture is not as harmful as within a liberal culture. Keywords: Arabs, Egypt, Collective, Individuation, Parenting, Anxiety, Depression.

Parenting style


Socialization processes and psychological independence are two factors that are diverse across cultures (Chaudhary, 2002; Triandis, 1995). More specifically, parenting style and individuation in adolescence in western societies are found to differ from those in collective societies (Dwairy, 1997, 1998a; Hill, 1995; Markus, & Kitayama, 1998; Panagiotopoulou, 2002). The research reported in this article intended to study parenting style, psychological connectedness, and mental health among Egyptian Arab adolescents. Parenting styles: The most widely used typology of parenting behaviors in the West is that developed by Boumrind (Berg-Cross, 2000). Boumrind identified three parenting styles: Authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive (Baumrind, 1967, 1991). Parents who practice the authoritarian style focus on their control of the child, and his/her obedience. They restrict the autonomy of their children and decide what appropriate behavior is for them (Baumrind, 1983; Reitman, Rhode, Hupp, and Altobello, 2002). A variety of problems were identified among the children of authoritarian parents in the west. These children tend to be uncooperative and to suffer from depression, low self esteem, low initiative, and difficulties in making decisions in adulthood (Baumrind, 1991; Bigner, 1994; Forward, 1989; Wenar, 1994; Whitfield, 1987). Parents who adopt the permissive style encourage their children’s autonomy and enable them to make their own decisions and regulate their own activities. They avoid confrontation and tend to be warm, supportive people and do not care to be viewed by their children as figures of authority. Children raised by permissive parents have poor social skills and low self-esteem (Baumrind, 1991; Reitman, Rhode, Hupp, and Altobello, 2002) and are often seen as selfish, dependent, irresponsible, spoiled, unruly, inconsiderate of other’s needs, and antisocial (Bigner, 1994; Wenar, 1994). The authoritative style is a compromise between the authoritarian and the permissive style. Parents who adopt this style tend to have good nurturing skills and exercise moderate parental control to allow the child to become progressively more autonomous (Baumrind, 1966, 1967, 1983, 1991; Reitman, Rhode, Hupp, and Altobello, 2002). Children raised according to this style of parent are not completely restricted but rather are allowed a reasonable degree of latitude in their behavior. Parents do enforce limits in various ways such as reasoning, verbal give and take, overt power, and positive reinforcements. Children of authoritative parents display high self-esteem and tend to be self-reliant, self-controlled, secure, popular, and inquisitive (Buri et al., 1988; Wenar, 1994). They manifest fewer psychological and behavioral problems than youth who are raised by authoritarian or permissive parents (Lamborn, Mants, Steinberg & Dornbusch, 1991). (For review of parental discipline, see Maccoby and Martin, 1983). Inconsistent results regarding the effects of parenting style on children have emerged from research among non-white cultures (Stewart & Bond, 2002). In some studies, levels of self-concept, self-esteem, and academic performance of African-Americans (Baumrind, 1972; Taylor, Hinton, & Wilson, 1995) and of Asian Americans (Steinberg et al., 1992) have been shown to be lower, whether the authoritarian or the permissive parenting style is implemented. Conversely, the results of some studies have shown that the authoritarian parenting style produced the most assertive and independent African American girls (Baumrind, 1972), and was related to higher competence in a high-risk environment (Baldwin, Baldwin & Cole, 1990). According to the findings of Steinberg et al. (1994), Asian Americans benefited more from the authoritarian than from the authoritative parenting style in terms of adjustment and academic performance. Among Chinese families in Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China, while the authoritarian parenting style was found to effect the achievement level of the children positively, the authoritative style had no effect in this regard

Parenting style


(Leung et al., 1998). The achievement levels of first-generation Chinese immigrants in USA also benefit less from the authoritative style than those of European Americans (Chao, 2001). Individuation A major area in which collective cultures differ from individualistic cultures is in their individuation, dependency, and intergenerational connectedness. Whereas adolescents in western societies are expected to be individuated from their families, having different attitudes and values, emotionally detached, and self reliance (Hofstede, 1980; Triandis, Bontempo, Villareal, Asai, & Lucca, 1988), adolescents in Asia, Africa, and South America, where the sociocultural system is still collectivistic/authoritarian, are not encouraged to develop individually from their families and are not, therefore, expected to pass through the same process of individuation toward a differentiated self and identity. Individuals in these societies, in which the concept of self is collectivistic and not different from the familial self and identity, continue to be enmeshed in their families into adulthood (Triandis, 1990, 1996; Dwairy & Van Sickle, 1996). Hatab and Makki (1978), in their study of Arab youth, found that the majority reported following their parents’ direction in most of the important areas of their life: social behavior, interpersonal relationships, marriage, occupational preference, and political attitudes. That they did not report that they suffer from this interdependent relationship but rather that they are satisfied with this way of life is of interest. It seems that the relationship between parenting styles on the one hand, and individuation and mental health and functioning of the children, on the other, is inconsistent across cultures. Based on the studies cited above, apparently it is the authoritative parenting in the West that is associated with independency of the child’s identity and with better mental health, while in some ethnic groups or collective societies authoritarian parenting is associated with independency (Baumrind, 1972), and better functioning of the children (Baldwin, et al. 1990; Hatab & Makki, 1978). The Arab culture Arabs live in an authoritarian and collective cultural system according to which the family (extended and nuclear) is more important than the individual. Independence and selfactualization are not encouraged but rather are seen as a sort of egoism. Within this system, the psychological individuation of adolescents is not accomplished and the individual’s identity continues to be enmeshed in the collective one into adulthood. Some reports indicated that physical and emotional abuses are widespread styles of parenting in Egypt (Saif El-Deen, 2001), Saudi Arabia, (Achoui, 2003), Bahrain (AlMahroos, 2001), Jordan, (Al-Shqerat, & Al-Masri, 2001) and Morocco (Al-Kittani, 2000) especially among low class, uneducated parents, and larger or dysfunctional families. Generally speaking, authoritarianism is harsher toward females than males and they have less choices and options in life (Shabib, 1993, Shabib, 2001, Abd Elkader, 1986). Their lives are limited almost exclusively to the space within the borders of home and family life. Conversely, boys enjoy a wider space of mobility and more choices and options. They are therefore more able to maneuver within social authority and to find avenues for selfexpression. In addition, with regard to females authoritarianism focuses on modesty, mobility, and sexual behavior, while with regard to males it focuses on social duties and responsibility (Mohamad, 1985). In addition, girls are punished more harshly than boys. In extreme cases immodest girls may be killed in the name of saving the so-called honor of the family (Barakat, 1995, 2000; Dwairy, 1997a, 1997b, 1998a; Markaz al Mara’ah al Arabiyah, 2003)). Despite the strict socialization toward female Arab children and adolescents, and because

Parenting style


females are more submissive, some studies indicated that authoritarian parenting and physical punishments are applied more toward boys than girls (Al-Shqerat, & Al-Masri, 2001; AlKittani, 2000; Dwairy, 2004b). Arabic societies are diverse. They are presently passing through a rapid process of urbanization, which increases the diversity between the sociocultural norms in rural neglected areas and those in the more urbanized and developed areas (Zakariya, 1999). The percentage of urbanization varies from 23% in Yemen and 24% in Somalia to 91% in Qatar and 96% in Kuwait (UNDP, 2002). Barakat (1993, 2000) claims that Arabs who migrated to the cities in fact took their traditional culture with them, and that, therefore, the culture of urbanized adults does not substantially differ from that of rural ones. Many urban Arab families continue to maintain an extended family structure where three generations or more live together as one unit (Zayed & Lotfi, 1993). Assuming that Arab youths are exposed to a new open and free lifestyle in town, their resulting new demands for freedom challenge the parents’ tradition. Arab parents in the USA, for instance, are therefore much concerned about losing control of the behavior of their children who are influenced by their American peer group, and especially of the females (Abu Baker, 1997). Few research studies have addressed the parenting styles among Arabs and its impact on individuation and mental health. A series of studies conducted by the first author of this article among Arab-Palestinians in Israel has revealed significant sex differences. Arabic girls reported a more authoritative parenting style than boys, who reported a higher authoritarian style. In addition, the authoritative parenting style was associated with better mental health of both sexes, but unlike the results in the west, the authoritarian parenting style was not associated with less mental health in terms of seven factors: self concept, self esteem, identity disorder, anxiety disorder, phobia, depression, and conduct disorder (Dwairy, 2004b). In another study that compared gifted and non-gifted Arab-Palestinian adolescents in Israel gifted adolescents reported parenting styles which were more permissive and authoritative than those which non-gifted adolescents reported. Non-gifted adolescents reported a more authoritarian style. Authoritative parenting was associated with better mental health among both groups, but interestingly, only among the gifted children was the authoritarian style associated with less good mental health in terms of the seven criteria mentioned above (Dwairy, 2004a). As for individuation and independence, the ego-identity of the ArabPalestinian adolescents tested by “objective measure of ego-identity status” (OMEIS), (Adams, Shea, & Fitch, 1979), tends to be “foreclosed” by their parents or “diffused” or uncrystallized. In addition they displayed a high level of emotional, financial, and functional interdependence with their parents. The identity of male adolescents was more “foreclosed” than that of the females. Female adolescents displayed a higher level of financial dependence on their parents than males did (Dwairy, in press). This study was conducted in Egypt, the largest Arab country, unlike the previous studies which were conducted among the Palestinian minority in Israel. The study had a twofold objective: (a) to test the effect of urbanization and sexual differences on parenting style, individuation, and mental health of adolescents, (b) to test the relationship between parenting styles on the one hand and the individuation and mental health of adolescents on the other. Method Subjects: Three questionnaires were administered to 351 (212 male and 139 female) Egyptian adolescents in the 11th grade of school (16-17 years old). The sample comprised 50% rural and 50% urban adolescents. The mean number of siblings and education years of parents was

Parenting style


4.3 and 3.3 respectively in the rural and 3.5 and 3.6 in the urban sample, respectively in the urban sample. The mean of the subjective rating (on a scale from 1=low to 5=high) of the family economic level was 3.0 in the rural sample and 3.6 in the urban sample. The questionnaires were administered by schoolteachers in school. Their completion took 5060 minutes. Participation of the sample subjects was voluntary; however none of the students refused to participate. Only 24 students did not complete all the questionnaires and were therefore excluded from the sample. In accordance with the Egyptian rules, the consent of the school inspector and the parents’ committee was obtained. Instruments: Three questionnaires were administered Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ) Based on the original English questionnaire on parental authority styles (Buri, 1991), an Arabic version had been developed and validated in two studies among Palestinian Arab adolescents (Dwairy, 2004a, 2004b). The Arabic, like the English version, consists of 30 items: Ten items associated with each of the three parenting styles, authoritarian, authoritative, and permissive. The subjects are directed to respond to each item on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1=not agree to 5=agree. Three scores are obtained, reflecting the three styles. The internal consistency measured by the Alpha Cronbach’s coefficient of each style ranged between .65 and .79. Confirmatory principal factor analysis of the Arabic scale indicated that all items that comprise each parenting style matched accordingly (for more details about the validity of the scale see Dwairy, 2004a, 2004b). Multigenerational Interconnectedness Scale (MIS) The scale comprises three-factor analytically-derived subscales intended to assess emotional, financial, and functional connectedness of adolescents with their family. The Emotional Connectedness subscale comprises 15 items which inquire into the subject’s current emotional and psychological dependence on family members, e.g., “I rely on family members’ approval to let me know when I am doing things right.” The Financial Connectedness subscale comprises eight items relating to monetary reliance on family members, e.g., “Family members help me pay for my major living expenses,” and the Functional Connectedness subscale consists of eight items which refer to sharing daily routines with family, e.g., “I take vacations with members of my family.” Adolescents are asked to respond to the items by rating on a scale of 1 to 7 how often they currently have these experiences in their relationships with family members. The results of these subscales of interconnectedness may be thought of as defining part of the individuation process, one of the delineations of the sense of self within a relational context (Karpel, 1976). A primary marker of higher individuation is the expectation that offspring will become less emotionally, financially, and functionally dependent on the family as they mature (Meyer, 1980). This scale was used by the first author to measure the independency of adolescents with their parents. The Arabic version was translated (two-way translation) from the original scale and then validated (Dwairy, 2003). The internal consistency of the scale was good. Cronbach’s coefficient alpha for the Arabic scale was .80. For the Emotional Connectedness subscale .68, for Financial Connectedness .83, and for Functional Connectedness .71. The structural internal validity of the scale was tested by a principal factor analysis, which showed good convergence of the items into the three subscales. All Financial Connectedness items and one Functional Connectedness item loaded higher than .30 in one factor. All Functional Connectedness items and one Emotional Connectedness item loaded higher than .30 on another factor; and 12 of the 15 Emotional Connectedness items and one Functional Connectedness item loaded higher than .30 on a third factor. The other three items of the

Parenting style


Emotional Connectedness subscale loaded on Factor 3, with loadings between .23 and .29 (For more details on the validation of the scale see Dwairy, 2003). The Psychological State Scale (PSS) This scale was developed in Arabic by Hamuda and Imam (1996) to assess twentyseven psychological states among adolescents and adults in Egypt. Five items, each of which the subject is asked to endorse or reject (2=yes, 1=not sure, and 0=no), were designed to pertain to each state. The scores of each scale are summed. A high score indicates a psychological disorder. The PSS was originally developed to detect twenty-seven psychological disorders in a group setting. For the purpose of our study and for economic reasons, we chose to examine only four psychological states that are relevant to adolescents. We selected the items that pertain to the following psychological states: 1. Identity disorders (e.g.: I do not know who I am and what I want). 2. Generalized anxiety disorder (e.g.: While I am doing something I feel anxious). 3. Depression (e.g.: I feel sad most of the time). 4. Conduct Disorder (e.g.: Using violence makes others respect me). Factor analysis of the scale, when applied to normal and clinical Arab samples in Egypt, showed good convergence of the items into the five psychological states indicating good internal-structural validity of the scale. Comparison between the two groups revealed significant differences between the normal and clinical participants in all of the above subscales. Taking into account the fact that the number of items in each subscale is small (five items), the split-half reliability coefficients were good to moderate (Hamuda and Imam, 1996). Validation of the PSS done among Palestinian Arabs revealed that the internal consistency of the scales was moderate (.65) to good (.91). Factor analysis revealed moderate to good internal-structural validity of the identity, anxiety, depression, and conduct disorder sub-scales of PSS. (For more details concerning validation of PSS among Palestinian Arabs see Dwairy, 2004a, 2004b.) Validation of the tools: Despite the fact that all the questionnaires used had been validated among Arabs, we found a need to validate them also among Egyptian Arabs. A principal factor analysis was applied to test the structure validity of PAQ, MIS, and PSS. Based on the theoretical structure of PAQ and MIS, an a priori three-factors solution was adopted with varimax rotation and a .10 item-factor loading criterion. Except for one item regarding the permissive style, all the 29 items which comprise the PAQ were matched accordingly with item-factor loadings between .17 and .65. Only two items had shared item-factor loadings in more than one factor. The same factor analysis was applied to the items of MIS. Except for one item regarding emotional connectedness all the 30 items which comprise the three kinds of connectedness were matched accordingly with item-factor loadings between .18 and .71. Twelve items had shared item-factor loadings in more than one factor. Based on the theoretical structure of PSS, an a priori four-factors solution was adopted with varimax rotation and a .10 item-factor loading criterion. All the 20 items which comprise each disorder were matched accordingly with item-factor loadings between .20 and .79. Ten items had shared item-factor loadings in more than one factor. The internal consistency of each sub-scale was tested by Cronbach’s alpha coefficient. The coefficients of the permissive, authoritarian and authoritative style were .62, .64 and .76, respectively. The coefficients of the emotional, functional and financial connectedness were .67, .75 and .60, respectively. Finally, the coefficients of the identity, anxiety, depression and conduct disorder were .69, .62, .64 and .61, respectively. Although some of the Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were low but the fact that most items had been converged accordingly in

Parenting style


factor analysis and based on former validation studies on the scales (Dwairy, 2004a, 2004b) we found it safe to use these scales in our research. Results Effect of sex and urbanization on parenting styles: In order to test the effect of urbanization and sex on parenting styles, connectedness, and psychological disorders, we conducted a two-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA). Urbanization was found to have a significant main effect on the authoritative parenting style [F(1,338)=12.88, p

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