Parenting Style of the Watsons

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Parenting styles are very important in influencing children’s behavior, and the styles form the context in which children’s behavior might occur (Fox para. 2). There are four different types of parenting styles. These styles, developed by child psychologist Diana Baumrind, who provides a majority of the information found in the book Understanding Children and Adolescents,include authoritative, permissive, authoritarian, and neglectful/uninvolved (Forsyth 376). In the extremely funny children’s book The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963, the author Christopher Paul Curtis uses the family’s life and adventure as a way of showing many characteristics of a particular parenting style used on the children. The main focus is on Byron and what effect the parenting approach has on the child’s behavior.

Throughout this essay I am going to argue that the Watsons, as parents, use the authoritative parenting style and that the parenting style has an effect on the child’s behavior. Using my research, I will define the four types of parenting styles and their effects on child behavior. Baumrind’s work on the classification of the four parenting styles has influence research on the effects parenting has on child behavior (Fox para. 3). I will also use specific examples from Curtis’s book, showing Byron’s behavior, along with various responses that demonstrate that the authoritative approach is used.

The first type of parenting style identified by Baumrind is the authoritative approach. Authoritative parents use both parental authority and an explanation of their standards in specific situations. Children raised with the authoritative parenting style have the highest social competence (Forsyth 32). Authoritative par...

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...—1964. New York: Bantam, 1995.

Darling, Nancy. “Parenting Style and Its Correlates.” Eric Digest1999. Ebsco. 5 December 2001. <>

Forsyth, Alfred G., Peggy D. Forsyth, David E. Schickedanz, and Judith A. Schickedanz. Understanding Children and Adolescents. 4th ed. Mayfield, 1993.

Fox, Roberta A. “An Empirically Derived Classification of Parenting Practices.” Journal of Genetic Psychology 106 (1999): 343, 14 pp. Masterfile Premier. Ebsco. Joyner Library, Greenville. 2 December 2001. <>

Horton-Parker, Radha J. “Teaching Children to Care: Engendering Pro-Social Behavior through Humanistic Parenting.” Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education, and Development 37.2 (1998): 66, 12 pp. Masterfile Premier. Ebsco. Joyner Library, Greenville. 2 December 2001. <>
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