Parenting Styles in the Development of IdentityChildren are always exploring their independence and developing their identity, or in other words, a sense of self. Research has shown that those who receive proper encouragement and reinforcement will emerge with a strong sense of self. Those who do not receive proper encouragement and reinforcement will remain unsure of themselves and confused about the future. For this reason, I believe an authoritative parenting style is the most beneficial factor in the formation of identity.
Before we get into parenting styles, we must first discuss how an identity is formed. One of Erik Erikson's steps in his Theory of Psychosocial Development is identity versus confusion, commonly called the identity crisis. This is a period of exploration and analysis of different ways of looking at oneself.1 James Marcia expanded on Erikson's theory by stating that there are two parts in the process of identity - a crisis and a commitment.
He defined a crisis as a time of turmoil where old values and choices are being reexamined. The result of a crisis leads to a commitment to a certain value or role. Commitment to that value or role means not only making a firm choice, but engaging in activities to implement that choice as well.2 People who have explored and committed to an identity are more open, experience fewer problems in society, and are more effective communicators.3 Effective parenting helps children make it through the crisis stage and establish a commitment.
There are four patterns of parenting - authoritarian, authoritative, indulgent, and uninvolved parenting. Authoritarian parents are controlling and demanding but not very loving or responsive to their children's needs. They intervene frequently and do not allow their children to make independent choices. Authoritative parents have high expectations and set clear boundaries, but allow...