Mothers' Child-Rearing Styles And Daughters' Dependency: An Examination Of Restrictive And Democratic Methods

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Jerome B. Dusek



Subject Categories

Personality and Social Contexts


This study utilized methodology which incorporated both questionnaire and observational techniques in an effort to assess the differing interaction styles of "restrictive" and "democratic" mothers and their kindergarten-age daughters. The interaction styles of the mothers and daughters were observed in an experimental play room setting in which each mother-daughter pair completed a series of problem-solving tasks. Using 3 judges, mothers were rated according to their independence-encouraging and dependence-encouraging behaviors and their daughters with respect to independent and dependent behavior.

From several kindergarten classes in an urban school district, 44 mothers elected to complete the Parent as Educator Interview (Schaefer & Edgerton, 1976). The results from these self-reports were used to classify 22 mothers as either "democratic" or "restrictive" in their child-rearing attitudes. Subsequently, these mothers and their daughters participated in the observational phase of the study. The subjects were asked to complete a series of puzzles under differing experimental conditions in which (1) the actual difficulty of the tasks was altered and (2) parental expectations toward the task difficulty were changed. The latter treatment conditions all contained challenging tasks of equivalent difficulty; however, mothers were given prior instructions that led them to expect either easy or difficult tasks.

It was found that restrictive mothers exhibited significantly more dependence-encouraging behavior than democratic mothers in all treatment conditions. While democratic mothers encouraged independent behavior more than dependent behavior, the reverse was true for restrictive mothers. Daughters of restrictive mothers displayed significantly more dependent behavior than their counterparts. No significant differences were found between parent-types with respect to independence-encouraging behavior nor between their daughters' levels of independent behavior.

Additional results indicated that overall maternal dependence-encouraging behavior was greater when mothers expected difficult tasks. With regard to parent-type, restrictive mothers' displayed more dependent-encouragement when they expected difficult tasks; however, democratic mothers displayed no such variation. . . . (Author's abstract exceeds stipulated maximum length. Discontinued here with permission of school.) UMI