The relationship between poverty and the authoritarian and authoritative parenting style.
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Background: Poverty is considered as one of the triple threats in South Africa, with unemployment and inequality being the other two. Its effects are far reaching with associations found between poverty and mental illness, childhood development and academic achievement Furthermore, research indicates that poverty has effects on a multitude of factors, including the family system encompassing parenting styles. The authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles form the focus of this study, each having individual effects on the development of the child. This study uses the ‘family stress model’ as the theoretical framework to investigate the relationship between poverty and the authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles, in South Africa. Aim: The aim of this study is to examine the relationship between poverty and parenting styles, in particular, the authoritarian and authoritative parenting styles. Method: This study used a secondary data analysis, quantitative design. Data was obtained from a study where the main objective was to examine the adaptation of the Collaborative HIV Adolescent Mental Health Programme (CHAMP) amongst black South Africans. Participants were placed into fewer resourced and more resourced groups, based on a poverty indicator (consisting of employment, food availability and pensions/grants received). This formed the independent variable. Four parenting style measures- the authoritative parenting scale, the punitive parenting scale, the monitoring empathy measure and the communication comfort and frequency scale, formed the dependant variables. A one way ANOVA was used to test whether there were significant differences in the above measures, between fewer resourced and more resourced parents. Results: Findings from the study indicated that no significant differences exist between fewer resourced and more resourced parents in the authoritative and authoritarian parenting styles. However, significant differences were found in ‘communication frequency’ with more communication found amongst the fewer resourced group. Conclusion: Poverty (in terms of employment, food availability and resources) is a multidimensional process requiring further research to determine its relationship with the family system (including parenting styles). Other factors (such as culture, age of the parent and child, and so forth) may mediate the relationship between poverty and parenting styles and therefore also need to be studied further.