Skip to main content

Psychology: Research and Review

Perceived parenting and adolescents’ adjustment


Adolescence is an important developmental period that is characterised by heightened problems of adjustment. The aim of this study is to analyse adolescents’ adjustment, and to explore the typologies and dimensions of parenting, and thus to determine the relationships between these factors. The sample comprised 1285 adolescent students aged 12 to 16 from the Basque Country (Spain). The students filled out the self-report of the Behavior Assessment System for Children (BASC) and the Parental Acceptance-Rejection/Control Questionnaire, (PARQ/Control). Differences by age were found in the adolescents’ school maladjustment and parenting style perception. Moreover, perceptions of little parental warmth were related to higher levels of clinical and school maladjustment, and the lower the parental control, the greater the clinical maladjustment. Finally, the results obtained revealed that the interaction between the mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles was significant only for clinical maladjustment; those students with neglectful mothers and authoritative fathers presented the highest level of clinical maladjustment, followed by other combinations of neglectful mothers. Furthermore, the students from neglectful and authoritarian families presented the highest levels of school maladjustment, without differences between neglectful and authoritarian or between indulgent and authoritative families.


Adolescence is a developmental period between childhood and adulthood that is characterised by many physical, psychological and social changes that require adaptation. This can be an opportunity to enhance development, but it can also highlight the vulnerabilities of the adolescent. Although most young people cope adequately with such changes, this developmental period is characterised by an increased presence of externalising and internalising problems (Donaldson, Gordon, Melvin, Barton, & Fitzgerald, 2014; Merikangas et al., 2010).

Analysis of differences in adolescents’ adjustment by sex reveals a tendency for boys to be less well adjusted to school, with more behavioural problems, more negative attitudes toward teachers and lower levels of achievement (Holden, 2002; Jaureguizar, Ibabe, & Strauss, 2013; Lam et al., 2012). Girls, on the other hand, are less emotionally adjusted and present more depression and anxiety (Thapar, Collishaw, Pine, & Thapar, 2012; Waite & Creswell, 2014). Moreover, in respect of the age, increasing age has been associated with higher prevalence of depression and anxiety (Zubrick et al., 2017), while externalising problems are generally stable over the course of development (Li, Johnson, Musci, & Riley, 2017).

Taking into account that adjustment problems in childhood and adolescence might be related to psychiatric disorders in adulthood, many studies have emphasised the need to identify factors related to such adjustment problems (Fuentes, García, Gracia, & Lila, 2011; Gerard & Booth, 2015; Jaureguizar, Bernaras, Ibabe, & Sarasa, 2012; Waite & Creswell, 2014).

Although peers play a major role in socialisation during adolescence, the family is still an important source of support, reference and education. Moreover, parenting has long been identified as one of the most important influential factors in children’s and adolescents’ psychosocial adjustment (Lengua & Kovacs, 2005; Rodríguez-Fernandez, Droguet, & Revuelta, 2012). Studies of parenting can be divided into two main perspectives: research focused on dimensions of parenting and research focused on typologies (Darling & Steinberg, 1993; O’Connor, 2002).

Two main dimensions of parenting behaviour have been studied: warmth and control. Warmth is defined as involvement and the expression of positive affect, regard and concern by parents and/or other primary caregivers (Rohner & Khaleque, 2005). Studies have identified a significant link between parental warmth and the positive adjustment of adolescents (Barber, Stolz, & Olsen, 2005; Heider, Matschinger, Bernet, Alonso, & Angermeyer, 2006). In this respect, Rohner and Khaleque (2005) reported that up to 26% of the variability of children’s psychological adjustment could be accounted for by their perceptions of acceptance or rejection by the primary caregivers. By contrast, clinical and community studies have found that lower parental support is related to greater depression and anxiety among adolescents (Johnson & Greenberg, 2013; Sheeber, Davis, Leve, Hops, & Tildesley, 2007; Yap, Pilkington, Ryan, & Jorm, 2014), lower academic performance (Gerard & Booth, 2015; Ratelle, Larose, Guay, & Senecal, 2005), weaker self-esteem (Fuentes et al., 2011) and behavioural problems such as delinquency (Heaven, Newbury, & Mak, 2004) or substance use (Calafat, García, Juan, Becoña, & Fernández-Hermida, 2014).

Research findings on the influence of parental control on adolescents’ adjustment have been less consistent (Heider et al., 2006; Kerr & Stattin, 2000), probably due to the use of different conceptualisations of this construct, i.e. whether it is understood as behavioural or as psychological control. Behavioural control by parents is viewed as the extent to which they regulate or manage their children’s behaviour, for instance by insisting on compliance with rules, demands or directives (Rohner & Khaleque, 2003). Several studies have observed positive relationships between parental control and adolescents’ adjustment, due to the fact that such control implies knowledge of the child’s whereabouts, activities and companions (Jacobson & Crockett, 2000; Kerr & Stattin, 2000). However, when behavioural control becomes over-strict, the consequences for adolescents’ emotional adjustment could be negative (Maccoby & Martin, 1983). The second conceptualisation, that of psychological control, describes intrusive parenting tactics (for example, guilt-induction or shaming) (Barber, 1996) that keep adolescents emotionally dependent on their parents, thus controlling behaviour and limiting the development of autonomy (Reitz, Decovic, & Meijer, 2006) and adjustment across cultures (Soenens, Park, Vansteenkiste, & Mouratidis, 2012).

Studies of parenting typologies have traditionally adopted a two-dimensional framework (warmth or acceptance vs. control or strictness) with four types of parental socialisation style: authoritative (high in warmth and control), authoritarian (high in control but low in warmth), indulgent (high in warmth but low in control) and neglectful (low in warmth and in control) (Baumrind, 1991; Maccoby & Martin, 1983; Steinberg, Blatt-Eisengart, & Cauffman, 2006).

Using this distinction between styles of socialisation, various studies have analysed the relationship between these styles and children’s adjustment/maladjustment coming to different conclusions. The neglectful style has been associated with problems of social adjustment (such as impulsivity, substance abuse, crime or child-to-parent violence) and of personal adjustment (such as low self-esteem, anxiety or depression) (Gámez-Guadix, Jaureguizar, Almendros, & Carrobles, 2012; Milevsky, Schlechter, Netter, & Keehn, 2007; Oliva, Parra, & Arranz, 2008; Steinberg, 2001). The authoritarian style, on the other hand, has been linked to emotional maladjustment (in the form of depression, low self-esteem or low self-confidence) (Garber, Robinson, & Valentiner, 1997). The indulgent style is associated with psycho-social problems (substance abuse, antisocial behaviour, etc.) (Adalbjarnardottir & Hafsteinsson, 2001; Steinberg et al., 2006), and the authoritative style with higher levels of psycho-social adjustment (better self-esteem, good adjustment to school, satisfactory academic performance, psychological maturity and fewer behavioural problems) (Baumrind, 1997; Im-Bolter, Zadeh, & Ling, 2013; Kritzas & Grobler, 2005; Pelegrina, García, & Casanova, 2002). However, many studies claim that equivalent outcomes are achieved in indulgent and authoritative families, and even that children raised in indulgent families may present higher levels of adjustment (Calafat et al., 2014; Esteve, 2005; Gámez-Guadix et al., 2012; García & Gracia, 2009, 2010; López-Romero, Romero, & Villar, 2012). According to Musitu and García (2001), indulgent parents interact with their children as if they were mature and capable of self-control, consult with them about important household decisions and avoid the use of imposition and coercive measures of control.

A final issue that should be taken into account in considering the literature about relationships between parenting and adolescents’ adjustment is that of the sex of the parents. The vast majority of studies on childhood and adolescent adjustment have focused on mother-children relationships, or on joint parenting. However, a few studies have considered these issues controlling by sex and have observed different effects of maternal and paternal parenting on children’s adjustment (Hoeve, Dubas, Eichelsheim, van der Laan, Smeenk, et al., 2009; McKinney, Donnelly, & Renk, 2008), although other studies have not found strong differences in this respect (Sheeber et al., 2007).

Taking into account previous work in this field, and given the lack of a single conclusion, the aim of our study is to analyse adolescents’ adjustment, and to explore the typologies and dimensions of parenting, and thus to determine the relationships between these factors. The following hypotheses are proposed:

  • Hypothesis 1: Maladjustment is more likely to occur when adolescents perceive low levels of warmth and acceptance from their parents.

  • Hypothesis 2: Maladjustment is more likely to occur when adolescents perceive low levels of control and supervision from their parents.

  • Hypothesis 3: Maladjustment is more likely to occur when adolescents perceive an authoritarian parenting style.


Sample and procedure

The sample was obtained through convenience sampling (Coolican, 1994). In order to obtain a heterogeneous sample, we contacted both public and grant-assisted private schools and also made sure to include schools not only from the provincial capitals, but also from small towns and villages in the three provinces of the Basque Country (Spain). The sample consisted of 1285 adolescent students aged 12 to 16 years: 636 were girls (mean age = 13.73; SD = 1.59) and 649 were boys (mean age = 13.72; SD = 1.28).

Before contacting the schools, the procedure was reviewed by the Ethics Committee for Research with Human Beings at the University of the Basque Country, which gave its approval for the study to be carried out.

In face-to-face interviews with head teachers, we explained the aims of the study, the procedures to be followed and the instrument to be used. Once a school had agreed to participate, the conditions were set for the students’ families to receive the informed consent documents. Those families that allowed their children to take part returned the informed consent forms to the school, and we then proceeded to apply the instruments, which were applied in group format by members of the research team. The instructions for filling out the questionnaires were read aloud in the classroom and the students filled out the questionnaires in normal lesson time.


Behavior assessment system for children and adolescents (BASC) (Reynolds & Kamphaus, 1992, Spanish adaptation by González, Fernández, Pérez, & Santamaría, 2004, in its self-report version for adolescents aged 12 to 18 (S3)

The S3 personality self-report is an inventory composed of 185 statements, to which respondents are required to answer ‘True’ or ‘False’ (for example, ‘I hate school’; ‘No one understands me’). Four global dimensions are obtained from analysis of the replies made: personal adjustment, clinical maladjustment, school maladjustment and index of emotional symptoms. In the present study, only the dimensions of clinical and school maladjustment were explored. Clinical maladjustment is characterised as a general index of the distress reflected in clinical disorders and problems of internalisation. School maladjustment, on the other hand, is a measure of generalised maladjustment in this environment (negative attitudes toward school personnel and the structure of the educational process in general), which is often accompanied by academic difficulties. Three categorizations are obtained from the results: no maladjustment (Tscore < 60), at risk of maladjustment (Tscore 60–69) and clinically significant maladjustment (Tscore > 69). The Cronbach’s alpha scores for these two dimensions were satisfactory, at 0.94 for clinical maladjustment and 0.83 for school maladjustment.

Parental acceptance-rejection/control questionnaire (PARQ/Control)-Spanish version (Rohner, 1990)

Two scales of this questionnaire were used: the Warmth/Affection Scale (Rohner, Saavedra, & Granum, 1978) and the Parental Control Scale (Rohner, 1989; Rohner & Khaleque, 2003). The PARQ/Control, with its warmth/affection and control scales, assesses individual perceptions of warmth and parental control among children aged 7 years and over and adolescents. The warmth/affection and control scales consist of 20 and 13 items, respectively, to be assessed on a Likert scale of four possible answers: “Almost always true”, “Sometimes true”, “Rarely true”, “Almost never true”. Each item must be answered separately for the maternal and paternal relationships, to differentiate the results obtained for the mother and father (or guardians). The warmth/affection scale evaluates adolescents’ perceptions of the love and affection received from their parents (or guardians): acceptance of their personality, interest in their activities and well-being, enjoying free time together, ability to comfort, console, praise, embrace or express their love through words and actions. The parental control scale, on the other hand, evaluates adolescents’ perceptions of the behavioural control (permissiveness or strict control) exercised by their parents or guardians. The vast majority of the questionnaire items refer to the behaviour of parents, rather than their attitudes, to avoid possible difficulties in accounting for the relationship between attitudes and behaviour. The Cronbach’s alpha scores for these two scales were satisfactory, at 0.94 for warmth/affection and 0.86 for parental control.

To obtain the four categories of parenting styles, the mothers’ and fathers’ scores for warmth and control were dichotomised (high vs. low) by the median (García & Gracia, 2010; Lamborn, Mounts, Steinberg, & Dornbusch, 1991), such that parent’s scoring low in warmth and control were classified as neglectful; low in warmth and high in control as authoritarian; high in warmth and low in control as indulgent; and high in warmth and control as authoritative.

Data analysis

First, the distributions of the severity levels and scores associated with clinical and school maladjustment were described using frequencies, means and standard deviations. To test differences by gender (male vs. female) and age (12-year-olds; 13- to14-year-olds; and 15- to 16-year-olds) contingency tables, chi-square (χ2) and Cramer’s V (VCramer) as a measure of effect size in categorical variables and analysis of variance (ANOVA), post hoc tests of between-group comparisons (Tukey’s HSD; HSD) and Hedges’ g () in quantitative variables were used. The same procedure was carried out to the analysis for the dimensions of warmth and control and parenting styles.

Next, a successive multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed to test differences between levels of clinical and school maladjustment among students with different levels of parental warmth and control and for authoritative, authoritarian, neglectful or indulgent parents. In light of the significant relation between adolescent age and parenting style, analyses were also conducted both with, and without, age as covariate; because the results did not change when this covariate was included, only findings from analyses that age did not covariate are reported. Follow-up univariate F tests were performed within the variables that presented significant overall multivariate differences, and significant results in the univariate tests were followed up with Tukey’s HSD comparisons with Bonferroni’s correction between all possible pairs of means.


Clinical and school maladjustment

As severity levels of maladjustment is concerned, the BASC-S3 results indicated that 5% (n = 59) of the sample reported clinically significant clinical maladjustment, and a further 10.5% (n = 124) were at risk of clinical maladjustment. 6.6% (n = 78) of the sample reported clinically significant school maladjustment, and a further 18.8% (n = 221) were considered to be at risk. Severity of maladjustment did not vary as a function of adolescents’ sex [clinical: χ2 (2) = 3.32, p = .19, VCramer = .05; school: χ2 (2) = 3.34, p = .18, VCramer = .05] but did vary as a function of adolescents’ age: in the younger adolescents group, there was a higher percentage than expected by chance who were in clinically significant clinical maladjustment category [χ2 (4) = 11.45, p = .02, VCramer = .07] and in the middle adolescents group, the clinically significant school maladjustment was more prevalent than expected [χ2 (4) = 17.65, p < .01, VCramer = .09] (see Table 1).

Table 1 Relation between clinical and school maladjustment and age group

As regards clinical maladjustment, Fig. 1 shows that as girls become older, they score higher in clinical maladjustment, but that boys present the opposite trend. The results of the 2 × 3 ANOVA revealed no statistically significant main effects of sex [F (1, 1177) = 0.003, p = .96] or age [F (2, 1177) = 0.26, p = .77], but the interaction between the two variables was significant [F (2, 1177) = 3.81, p = .02]. However, the differences between the six groups generated from the interaction between sex and age were so small that they were not statistically significant.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Adolescents’ clinical and school maladjustment by sex and age

The same procedure was followed for school maladjustment. Sex, but with low effect size, [F (1, 1171) = 6.58, p = .01, Mmales = 53.40, SDmales = 10.26, Mfemales = 52.32, SDfemales = 9.82,  = 0.11] and age [F (2, 1171) = 20.51, p < .001, M12 years = 50.14, SD12 years = 9.87, M13–14 years = 54.65, SD13–14 years = 9.80, M15–16 years = 52.30, SD15–16 years = 10.09, 12–14 years = − 0.46, 12–16 years = 0.21, 13–16 years = − 0.24] were statistically significant. Their interaction variables were not significant [F (2, 1171) = 1.07, p = .34]. The 13–14 age group presented the highest levels of school maladjustment.

Parenting dimensions and styles

Although there were no significant differences between adolescents’ perceptions of their mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles and dimensions [warmth: FFriedman (1) = 0.00; p = .999; control: FFriedman (1) = 0.21; p = .647; style: FFriedman (1) = 1.33; p = .251], Table 2 shows the results for the parenting styles and dimensions of fathers and mothers, separately, as reported by the students in our study sample.

Table 2 Descriptive results for fathers’ and mothers’ parenting styles and dimensions

The analyses show that parenting style did not vary as a function of sex of adolescents [father: χ2 (3) = 3.44, p = 0.33, VCramer = .06; mother: χ2 (3) = 4.13, p = .25, VCramer = .06] but did vary as a function of adolescents’ age, with younger adolescents relatively more likely to characterise their parents as indulgent and older adolescents relatively more likely to characterise them as authoritarian [father: χ2 (6) = 92.24, p < 0.01, VCramer = .22; mother: χ2 (6) = 50.68, p < .01, VCramer = .16].

Parenting and adolescents’ maladjustment

Descriptive analyses (Table 3) and MANOVAs (Table 4) were performed to test differences between the levels of clinical and school maladjustment among adolescents with parents reported to have high/low warmth and control and different parenting styles.

Table 3 Descriptive results for maladjustment by fathers’ and mothers’ parenting dimensions and styles
Table 4 Results of multivariate and univariate analyses of variance for maladjustment

Parents’ warmth and control and adolescents’ maladjustment

The interaction between fathers’ warmth and control was not statistically significant; however, the main effects of fathers’ warmth and control were significant. Follow-up ANOVA revealed significant differences in clinical maladjustment depending on the father’s warmth and control. Adolescents whose fathers had low levels of warmth scored more highly in clinical maladjustment than those with fathers presenting high levels of warmth [HSDBonferroni = 5.24, p < .001,  = 0.43]. Similarly, students whose fathers had low levels of control had higher levels of clinical maladjustment than those whose fathers had higher levels of control [HSDBonferroni = 3.55, p < .001,  = 0.27]. ANOVAs also indicated that there were significant differences in school maladjustment depending on the father’s warmth but there were no such differences with respect to control. Adolescents whose fathers presented low levels of warmth scored higher in school maladjustment than those whose fathers presented high levels of warmth [HSDBonferroni = 4.5, p < .001,  = 0.43].

As for the mothers, the results were similar: the main effects of mothers’ warmth and control were significant and the interaction between mothers’ warmth and control was not significant. In this case, too, follow-up ANOVAs revealed significant differences in clinical maladjustment depending on the mother’s warmth and control and differences in school maladjustment depending only the mother’s warmth. Adolescents whose mothers presented low levels of warmth had higher levels of clinical maladjustment [HSDBonferroni = 5.15, p < .001,  = 0.45] and school maladjustment [HSDBonferroni = 5.13, p < .001,  = 0.50]. Higher levels of clinical maladjustment were also found among the adolescents whose mothers had low levels of control compared to those reporting high levels of maternal control [HSDBonferroni = 4.10, p < .001,  = 0.41].

Parenting styles and adolescents’ maladjustment

MANOVA was performed with the scores for school and clinical maladjustment as dependent variables and with the mothers’ or fathers’ parenting styles as the independent variable. The interaction between the mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles was significant but only for clinical maladjustment. The main effects of the mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles were found to be significant in all variables.

Follow-up ANOVA and post hoc HSD Tukey with Bonferroni test (see Fig. 2 and Table 5) for the significant interaction showed that students with neglectful mothers and authoritative fathers presented the highest levels of clinical maladjustment, followed by those with other combinations of neglectful styles, authoritarian, indulgent and finally authoritative styles. No statistically significant differences were found between combinations of fathers’ and mothers’ indulgent and authoritative styles, or between neglectful and authoritarian combinations.

Fig. 2
figure 2

Adolescents’ clinical maladjustment by parent’ styles

Table 5 Descriptives and differences between sub-groups in clinical maladjustment

Follow-up ANOVA indicated that the effects of both mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles were significant for school maladjustment. The results for mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles were in the same line. The post hoc with Bonferroni correction tests revealed statistically significant differences between neglectful/authoritarian and indulgent/authoritative families; the students from neglectful and authoritarian families presented highest levels of school maladjustment [father: DHSneglectful vs indulgent = 4.50, p < .001,  = 0.44, DHSneglectful vs authoritative = 3.83, p = .001,  = 0.38, DHSauthoritarian vs indulgent = 4.63, p < .001,  = 0.41, DHSauthoritarian vs authoritative = 3.90, p < .001,  = 0.32; mother: DHSneglectful vs indulgent = 4.90, p < .001,  = 0.52, DHSneglectful vs authoritative = 5.39, p < .001,  = 0.57, DHSauthoritarian vs indulgent = 4.46, p < .001,  = 0.44, DHSauthoritarian vs authoritative = 4.95, p < .001,  = 0.49]. No significant differences were found between neglectful and authoritarian families [father: DHS = − 0.08, p = .999; mother: DHS = 0.44, p = .964], or between indulgent and authoritative families [father: DHS = − 0.73, p = .859; mother: DHS = 0.40, p = .952], in this respect.


This study was conducted to analyse the relationships between adolescents’ adjustment (clinical and school) and parenting styles using two dimension (warmth and control) and four typologies (authoritarian, authoritative, negligent and indulgent), with a sample of Spanish adolescent students.

Severity levels of clinical and school maladjustment were explored, and approximately 5% of the adolescents were found to have clinically significant adjustment problems, a finding that is in line with the previous studies (Donaldson et al., 2014; Merikangas et al., 2010). One of the strong points of the BASC-S3 is that clinically significant and at-risk results are obtained, so that early intervention can be made to help adolescents who are at risk of clinical or school maladjustment. The results of the present study highlight the need to take into account adolescents who may be at risk of maladjustment, because the percentages obtained are far from negligible (10.5% for clinical maladjustment and 18.8% for school maladjustment). Moreover, age but not sex was relevant to severity levels for adolescents’ adjustment problems. Younger adolescents were more prone than others to suffer clinically significant clinical maladjustment and middle adolescents to suffer risk for school maladjustment and clinically significant school maladjustment. In contrast, when analysing the scores, statistically significant effect of the sex and age group interaction on the clinical maladjustment and main effect of sex—with low effect size—and age on school maladjustment were found. Thus, as girls become older, they score higher in clinical maladjustment, but boys present the opposite trend. Many previous studies have reported higher levels of emotional problems among adolescent girls than boys (Compas, Connor-Smith, & Jaser, 2004; Waite & Creswell, 2014), probably because they are more sensitive to the typical changes of adolescence as these changes come over (and possibly, also, due to greater social pressures). On the contrary, boys are more prone to school maladjustment, which is in line with previous findings (Holden, 2002; Lam et al., 2012). Although externalising problems have been understood as stable over the course of development (Li et al., 2017), the present study found the 13–14 age group as the one with highest levels of school maladjustment, maybe because it is also related with a level change in Spanish Education (from Primary to Secondary Education).

The next aim of our study was to analyse the parenting dimensions and styles of fathers and mothers separately, according to their adolescent children’s perceptions. One of the main conclusions drawn is that, as concluded by Sheeber et al. (2007), there were no significant differences between adolescents’ perceptions of their mothers’ and fathers’ dimensions and parenting styles, which contradicts the results of other studies (Hoeve et al., 2009; McKinney et al., 2008).

To obtain more detailed information about parenting, we analysed the two main dimensions of parenting (warmth and control). Hypothesis 1 was confirmed, with our results showing that adolescent maladjustment was most likely to occur when adolescents perceived low warmth and acceptance from their parents. The results showed, too, that only fathers’ and mothers’ warmth was significantly associated with school maladjustment (parental control was non-significant): thus, low warmth was related to higher levels of school maladjustment. These results coincide with previous findings about parenting styles, reinforcing the idea that no significant differences arise between indulgent and authoritative families as regards school maladjustment; what really matters is the parents’ level of warmth. On the other hand, the results for clinical maladjustment argue in favour of an authoritative parenting style, with higher levels of warmth and control being related to lower levels of clinical maladjustment. In this case, therefore, parental control is an important factor, and so hypothesis 2 (that adolescent maladjustment is more likely to occur when adolescents perceive low control and supervision from their parents) was partially confirmed, being true for clinical but not for school maladjustment.

The analysis of the relationship between parenting styles and clinical maladjustment revealed that the interaction between the mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles was significant; the highest level of maladjustment was presented for the students with neglectful mothers and authoritative fathers, followed by other combinations for neglectful mothers. In the case of school maladjustment, revealed similar results for mothers and fathers, but with higher effect sizes associated in the case of different mothers’ parenting styles. Adolescents’ perceptions of neglectful or authoritarian fathers and mothers is related to higher levels of maladjustment, while perceptions of authoritative or indulgent fathers and mothers is related to lower levels of maladjustment. No significant differences were found between indulgent and authoritative families or between neglectful or authoritarian, which indicates that these two parenting styles have similar effects on adolescents, as suggested by previous studies conducted in Spain (Gámez-Guadix et al., 2012; García & Gracia, 2009; López-Romero et al., 2012). These results corroborate our hypothesis 3 and highlight the positive effect of high levels of parental warmth (present in indulgent and authoritative families).

It seems that in the Spanish culture, a high level of affection (present in both the authoritative and the indulgent styles) is considered very important, and that these styles are distinguished by the level of imposition or coercive control exerted (Musitu & García, 2004). By contrast, other authors argue that superior outcomes are achieved by the authoritative style of parenting, in all cultures (see, for example, Sorkhabi, 2005; Steinberg et al., 2006). In view of these conflicting outlooks, further study is needed of the relationship between children’s adjustment/maladjustment and parenting styles, in different cultural contexts.


In summary, these results are not as conclusive as other studies conducted in Spain, which have argued that the indulgent style of parenting is “optimum” (Esteve, 2005; García & Gracia, 2009, 2010). Following the ideas of Steinberg (2001), we find that authoritative families seem to be especially important for adolescents’ emotional well-being; besides the importance of the positive expression of affect and support provided by such parents, it is also important to set limits and establish structures for children to facilitate their development of self-regulatory skills.

Finally, the limits of the study must be taken into account. Its cross-sectional design and reliance on self-reporting by adolescents mean that the results obtained should be interpreted with caution. Moreover, causal conclusions cannot be drawn. Although studies show that adolescents’ perceptions of their mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles yield reliable results (Baumrind, 1991; Lamborn et al., 1991; Steinberg, Lamborn, Darling, Mounts, & Dornbusch, 1994), it would nevertheless be interesting to compare these results with the views of the parents concerned. Lastly, a better understanding is needed of the relationship between parenting and adolescents’ levels of personal adjustment in different cultures, to identify the aspects of parental socialisation that are determinant factors in children’s psychosocial development.


  • Adalbjarnardottir, S., & Hafsteinsson, L. G. (2001). Adolescents’ perceived parenting styles and their substance use: Concurrent and longitudinal analyses. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 11, 401–423

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barber, B. K. (1996). Parental psychological control: Revisiting a neglected construct. Child Development, 67, 3296–3319

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Barber, B. K., Stolz, H. E., & Olsen, J. A. (2005). Parental support, psychological control, and behavioral control: Assessing relevance across time, culture, and method. Monographs of the Society for the Research in Child Development, 70, 1–137

  • Baumrind, D. (1991). Effective parenting during the early adolescent transition. In P. A. Cowan (Ed.), Family transitions, (pp. 111–163). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Baumrind, D. (1997). The discipline encounter: Contemporary issues. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 2, 321–335

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Calafat, A., García, F., Juan, M., Becoña, E., & Fernández-Hermida, J. R. (2014). Which parenting style is more protective against adolescent substance use? Evidence within the European context. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 138, 185–192

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Compas, B. E., Connor-Smith, J., & Jaser, S. S. (2004). Temperament, stress reactivity, and coping: Implications for depression in childhood and adolescence. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 33, 21–31

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coolican, H. (1994). Research methods and statistics in psychology, (2nd ed., ). London: Hodder &Stoughton.

    Google Scholar 

  • Darling, N., & Steinberg, L. (1993). Parenting style as context: An integrative model. Psychological Bulletin, 113, 487–496

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Donaldson, A. E., Gordon, M. S., Melvin, G. A., Barton, D. A., & Fitzgerald, P. B. (2014). Addressing the needs of adolescents with treatment resistant depressive disorders: A systematic review of rTMS. Brain Stimulation, 7(1), 7–12

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Esteve, J. V. (2005). Estilos parentales, clima familiar y autoestima física en adolescentes [parenting styles, family climate and adolescents’ physical self-esteem]. University of Valencia, Spain: Unpublished doctoral thesis.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fuentes, M. C., García, J. F., Gracia, E., & Lila, M. (2011). Autoconcepto y ajuste psicosocial en la adolescencia [self-concept and psychosocial adjustment in adolescence]. Psicothema, 23, 7–12.

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gámez-Guadix, M., Jaureguizar, J., Almendros, C., & Carrobles, J. A. (2012). Estilos de socialización familiar y violencia de hijos a padres en población española [parenting styles and child to parent violence in Spanish population]. Psicología Conductual/Behavioral Psychology, 20, 585–602.

    Google Scholar 

  • Garber, J., Robinson, N. S., & Valentiner, D. P. (1997). The relation between parenting and adolescent depression: Self-worth as a mediator. Journal of Adolescent Research, 12, 12–33

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • García, F., & Gracia, E. (2009). Is always authoritative the optimum parenting style? Evidence from Spanish families. Adolescence, 44, 101–131.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • García, F., & Gracia, E. (2010). ¿Qué estilo de socialización parental es el idóneo en España? Un estudio con niños y adolescentes de 10 a 14 años [what is the optimum parental socialisation style in Spain. A study with children and adolescents aged 10-14 years]. Infancia y Aprendizaje: Journal for the Study of Education and Development, 33, 365–384

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gerard, J. M., & Booth, M. Z. (2015). Family and school influences on adolescents' adjustment: The moderating role of youth hopefulness and aspirations for the future. Journal of Adolescence, 44, 1–16

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • González, J., Fernández, S., Pérez, E., & Santamaría, P. (2004). Adaptación española del sistema de evaluación de la conducta en niños y adolescentes: BASC [Spanish adaptation of the Behavior Assesment System for Children: BASC]. Madrid: TEA Ediciones.

    Google Scholar 

  • Heaven, P. C., Newbury, K., & Mak, A. (2004). The impact of adolescent and parental characteristics on adolescent levels of delinquency and depression. Personality and Individual Differences, 36, 173–185

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heider, D., Matschinger, H., Bernet, S., Alonso, J., & Angermeyer, M. (2006). Relationship between parental bonding and mood disorder in six European countries. Psychiatry Research, 143, 89–98

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hoeve, M., Dubas, J. S., Eichelsheim, V. I., van der Laan, P. H., Smeenk, W., & Gerris, J. R. (2009). The relationship between parenting and delinquency: A meta-analysis. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 37, 749–775

  • Holden, C. (2002). Contributing to the debate: The perspectives of children on gender, achievement and literacy. Journal of Educational Enquiry, 3, 97–110.

    Google Scholar 

  • Im-Bolter, N., Zadeh, Z. Y., & Ling, D. (2013). Early parenting beliefs and academic achievement: The mediating role of language. Early Child Development and Care, 183, 1811–1826

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jacobson, K. C., & Crockett, L. J. (2000). Parental monitoring and adolescent adjustment: An ecological perspective. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 10, 65–97

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jaureguizar, J., Bernaras, E., Ibabe, M. I., & Sarasa, M. (2012). Scholar, clinical and emotional maladjustment in 8-12 school-age children: Adaptation of the self-report version of the behavior assessment system for children (BASC-S2) to the Basque-speaking population. Revista de Psicodidáctica/Journal of Psychodidactics, 17, 415–439

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jaureguizar, J., Ibabe, I., & Strauss, M. A. (2013). Violent and prosocial behavior by adolescents toward parents and teachers in a community sample. Psychology in the Schools, 50, 451–470

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Johnson, L. E., & Greenberg, M. T. (2013). Parenting and early adolescent internalizing: The importance of teasing apart anxiety and depressive symptoms. Journal of Early Adolescence, 33, 201–226

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Kerr, M., & Stattin, H. (2000). What parents know, how they know it, and several forms of adolescent adjustment: Further support for a reinterpretation of monitoring. Developmental Psychology, 36, 366–380

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kritzas, N., & Grobler, A. A. (2005). The relationship between perceived parenting styles and resilience during adolescence. Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 17, 1–12

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lam, S., Jimerson, S., Kikas, E., Cefai, C., Veiga, F. H., Nelson, B., … Zollneritsch, J. (2012). Do boys and girls perceive themselves as equally engaged in school? The results of an international study from 12 countries. Journal of School Psychology, 50, 77–94

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lamborn, S. D., Mounts, N. S., Steinberg, L., & Dornbusch, S. M. (1991). Patterns of competence and adjustment among adolescents from authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and neglectful families. Child Development, 62, 1049–1065

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lengua, L. J., & Kovacs, E. A. (2005). Bidirectional associations between temperament and parenting and the prediction of adjustment problems in middle childhood. Applied Developmental Psychology, 26, 21–38

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li, M., Johnson, S. B., Musci, R. J., & Riley, A. W. (2017). Perceived neighborhood quality, family processes, and trajectories of child and adolescent externalizing behaviors in the United States. Social Science & Medicine, 192, 152–161

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • López-Romero, L., Romero, E., & Villar, P. (2012). Relationships between parenting styles and psychopathic traits in childhood. Psicología Conductual/Behavioral Psychology, 20, 603–623.

    Google Scholar 

  • Maccoby, E. E., & Martin, J. A. (1983). Socialization in the context of the family: Parent–child interaction. In P. H. Mussen (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology, (vol. 4, pp. 1–101). New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • McKinney, C., Donnelly, R., & Renk, K. (2008). Perceived parenting, positive and negative perceptions of parents, and late adolescent emotional adjustment. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, 13, 66–73

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Merikangas, K. R., He, J. P., Burstein, M., Swanson, S. A., Avenevoli, S., Cui, L., … Swendsen, J. (2010). Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: Results from the national comorbidity survey replication-adolescent supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 980–989

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Milevsky, A., Schlechter, M., Netter, S., & Keehn, D. (2007). Maternal and paternal parenting styles in adolescents: Associations with self-esteem, depression and life-satisfaction. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 16, 39–47

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Musitu, G., & García, F. (2001). ESPA29: Escala de estilos de socialización parental en la adolescencia [scale of parental socialisation in adolescence]. Madrid: TEA.

    Google Scholar 

  • Musitu, G., & García, F. (2004). Consecuencias de la socialización familiar en la cultura española [consequences of the family socialisation in the Spanish culture]. Psicothema, 16, 288–293.

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Connor, T. G. (2002). Annotation: The ‘effects’ of parenting reconsidered: Findings, challenges, and applications. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 43, 555–572

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Oliva, A., Parra, A., & Arranz, E. (2008). Estilos relacionales parentales y ajuste del adolescente [parenting styles and adolescent adjustment]. Infancia y Aprendizaje: Journal for the Study of Education and Development, 31, 93–106

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pelegrina, S., García, M. C., & Casanova, P. (2002). Los estilos educativos de los padres y la competencia académica de los adolescentes [parenting styles and adolescents’ academic performance]. Infancia y Aprendizaje: Journal for the Study of Education and Development, 25, 147–168

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Ratelle, C. F., Larose, S., Guay, F., & Senecal, C. (2005). Perceptions of parental involvement and support as predictors of college students’ persistence in a science curriculum. Journal of Family Psychology, 19, 286–293

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Reitz, E., Decovic, M., & Meijer, A. M. (2006). Relations between parenting and externalizing and internalizing problem behaviour in early adolescence: Child behaviour as moderator and predictor. Journal of Adolescence, 29, 419–436

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Reynolds, C. R., & Kamphaus, R. W. (1992). Behavior assessment system for children (BASC). Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Services.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rodríguez-Fernandez, A., Droguet, L., & Revuelta, L. (2012). School and personal adjustment in adolescence: The role of academic self-concept and perceived social support. Revista de Psicodidáctica/Journal of Psychodicatics, 17, 397–414

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rohner, R. P. (1989). Parental Acceptance-Rejection/Control Questionnaire (PARQ/Control). 255 Codfish Falls Road, Storrs, CT, 06268–1425: Rohner Research.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rohner, R. P. (1990). Handbook for the study of parental acceptance and rejection, (3rd ed., ). Storrs, CT: Rohner Research Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rohner, R. P., & Khaleque, A. (2003). Reliability and validity of the parental control scale: A meta-analysis of cross-cultural and intracultural studies. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 34, 643–649

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rohner, R. P., & Khaleque, A. (2005). Handbook for the study of parental acceptance and rejection, (4th ed., ). Storrs, CT: Rohner Research Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rohner, R. P., Saavedra, J., & Granum, E. O. (1978). Development and validation of the Parental Acceptance Rejection Questionnaire: Test manual. JSAS Catalogue of Selected Documents in Psychology, 8, 7–8.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sheeber, L., Davis, B., Leve, C., Hops, H., & Tildesley, E. (2007). Adolescents’ relationships with their mothers and fathers: Associations with depressive disorder and subdiagnostic symptomatology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 116, 144–154

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Soenens, B., Park, S. Y., Vansteenkiste, M., & Mouratidis, A. (2012). Perceived parental psychological control and adolescent depressive experiences: A cross-cultural study with Belgian and South-Korean adolescents. Journal of Adolescence, 35, 261–272

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Sorkhabi, N. (2005). Applicability of Baumrind’s parent typology to collective cultures: Analysis of cultural explanations of parent socialization effects. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 29, 552–563

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steinberg, L. (2001). We know some things: Parent-adolescent relationships in retrospect and prospect. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 11, 1–19

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steinberg, L., Blatt-Eisengart, I., & Cauffman, E. (2006). Patterns of competence and adjustment among adolescents from authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and neglectful homes: A replication in a sample of serious juvenile offenders. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 16, 47–58.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Steinberg, L., Lamborn, S., Darling, N., Mounts, N., & Dornbusch, S. M. (1994). Over-time changes in adjustment and competence among adolescents from authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and neglectful families. Child Development, 65, 754–770

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Thapar, A., Collishaw, S., Pine, D., & Thapar, A. (2012). Depression in adolescence. Lancet, 379, 1056–1067

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Waite, P., & Creswell, C. (2014). Children and adolescents referred for treatment of anxiety disorders: Differences in clinical characteristics. Journal of Affective Disorders, 167, 326–332

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Yap, M. B., Pilkington, P. D., Ryan, S. M., & Jorm, A. F. (2014). Parental factors associated with depression and anxiety in young people: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Affective Disorders, 156, 8–23

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Zubrick, S. R., Hafekost, J., Johnson, S. E., Sawyer, M. G., Patton, G., & Lawrence, D. (2017). The continuity and duration of depression and its relationship to nonsuicidal self-harm and suicidal ideation and behavior in adolescents 12–17. Journal of Affective Disorders, 220, 49–56

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


Not applicable.


Research Project was sponsored by the University of the Basque Country (Spain), with grant number EHU 11/16 and PPG17/31.

Availability of data and materials

Data will not be deposited in any publicly available repositories, but will be shared if asked directly to the authors.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



All the authors of the manuscript have contributed to it in a meaningful way. JJ and EB designed the study, acquired all the data and conducted the literature review. MG and PB analysed the data. All the authors contributed to writing the manuscript. The manuscript has been reviewed by all authors, and they have given their approval of the version to be published.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Joana Jaureguizar.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jaureguizar, J., Bernaras, E., Bully, P. et al. Perceived parenting and adolescents’ adjustment. Psicol. Refl. Crít. 31, 8 (2018).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • DOI: