Exploring the development of perfectionism: The influence of parenting style and gender
David R. Hibbard and  Gail E. Walton, (California State University), 2014, 42(2), 269278

Having emerged from days of visiting grandchildren and their parents, I opened my computer and found this article to edit! An obvious “pick of the month” for me.

In their research, the authors tested various combinations of “demands” and “warmth” (responsiveness), which result in the following parenting styles: authoritarian, authoritative, indulgent, and neglectful. They discovered that authoritarian style had an influence on maladaptive perfectionism, whereas authoritative style buffered this influence. Neglectful parenting style created feelings of criticism from parents, in contrast to indulgent parenting which shielded the child from such feelings. No specific style was found to influence adaptive perfectionism.

Such visits as the one alluded to above provide a great opportunity to observe parents in action (or otherwise) and compare their style to one’s own practices. There are frequent conflicts and obvious frustrations… an optimum chance to test one’s ability to “butt out”!

Editing this article provided labels and concepts, and confirmation of my observations. I found myself “wandering” around my extended family and identifying many styles and outcomes. All this gave added interest to the job in hand. I wonder if any parents remain clearly and consistently within any particular style. Does style vary with situation and time, or can it depend on the audience at hand?

The conclusion reached by these researchers was that “In Western culture, authoritative parenting is thought to be the best balance between demands placed on a child and a warm, supportive parenting environment.”

The bigger questions still remain.

“How much of parenting style is dependent on character and background?”

“How much of parenting is due to luck?”

“How significant is the opinion of someone who has never actually been a parent?”

My only real conclusion is that the children have the final say… they are endearingly discriminating and know how to “play the game.”

Lesley Aitken | Copyeditor
Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal