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Parenting styles vary across the US

Posted Date: 08/11/2022

Parenting styles vary across the US

Most people agree that children should have enough to eat, not be sexually molested and never be punished in a way that requires medical treatment. But beyond those basics, my research has found that parenting styles in the United States vary by region.

Differing styles

I have found that parents in the South were more likely than parents in central Florida to demand obedience and respect from their children and believe that children should be treated strictly. Parents in central Florida, which is demographically and culturally different from other parts of the South, were more likely to discuss family decisions with their children, allow disagreement and let children make their own decisions.

Wider-ranging research I conducted with two doctoral students, Melanie Stearns and Erica Szkody, found differences in how young adults in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West are parented.

Overall, there were some commonalities. A style of parenting called “authoritative,” in which parents are both responsive and demanding, providing support alongside rules and limits while encouraging communication, was most common across the U.S. Also relatively common was a different parenting style called “authoritarian,” in which parents are less responsive but still demanding, providing rules and limits without as much support and requiring more obedience to authority.