Research Articles > Maternal Parenting Style and Adjustment in Adolescents with Type 1 Diabetes


Butler, J.M., Skinner, M., Gelfand D., Berg, C.A., & Wiebe, D.J. (2007).       
     Maternal parenting style and adjustment in adolescents with type 1     
     diabetes. Journal of Pediatric Psychology. 32(10), 1227-37. 

This research paper was done by the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah and focuses on how the mother’s parenting style affects adolescents with Type I diabetes. 

The researchers start out with a discussion on the importance and influence of the family on a child's ability to adjust and manage chronic illness such as diabetes. "Children with chronic illness benefit from a cohesive family environment where parents are responsive and accepting. Such families can be characterized by a parenting style of acceptance in firm control that is flexibly adapted to the needs of the developing child. During adolescence, the challenge for families is to maintain a level of involvement in diabetes management that supports the adolescent’s growing independence and autonomy, while  making certain that daily diabetes management tasks are completed competently. Parenting style is likely to be an important component of parent adolescent diabetes transactions.” 

Based on Baumrind’s parenting style topographies of permissive, authoritarian, and authoritative, the researchers found that there is a relationship between parenting style and adolescent well-being when a child has diabetes. Psychological control was associated with an increased depressed mood in teenagers. Firm control was also associated with poorer self-efficacy among older youth. It is theorized that firm control with an older teenager who wants independence may be interpreted as unwanted interference. However, younger teens may experience firm control as supportive. 

In contrast to controlling styles, a mother's acceptance was generally associated with better well-being particularly with girls and older children. "The present findings point to maternal acceptance as an important protective factor against oppression for at-risk girls." 

The researchers noted that surprisingly, the teenager's perceptions of maternal parenting style did not predict adherence to the diabetes regimen. Several theories were offered about this. 

In conclusion, the researchers suggest that "in the potentially stressful family context of diabetes management, adolescence perceptions of maternal acceptance may provide an important buffer that supports adolescent well-being. Interventions that facilitate close and warm relationships among parents and children, while minimizing instances of psychological control, may prove useful. Interventions such as those based on behavioral family systems theory might be useful for improving family communication and ameliorating difficulties that arise, when parents and families with adolescents with diabetes use psychological control or age inappropriate levels of firm control." 

Link to research paper: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17717004

Recap by Lisa Greene