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The purpose of the current study was to compare the parenting styles and dimensions in mothers of children with Down syndrome and mothers of typically developing children. Effective parenting is vital for a child’s intellectual, physical, social, and emotional development, and not all parenting techniques are equal in their effectiveness in raising a healthy, well-adjusted child. We expected that parents of children with Down syndrome would display more negative parenting techniques than parents of typically developing children because of their decreased parental well-being and increased caregiving demands.

The sample was comprised of 35 mothers of children with Down syndrome and 47 mothers of typically developing children. The mothers completed nine parent-report questionnaires asking about the way in which they parent their child, their child’s cognitive and behavioral abilities, their own well-being, and the expectations and fears they have in relation to their child.

We found that mothers of children with Down syndrome use an authoritative parenting style less and a permissive parenting style more than mothers of typically developing children. Additionally, we found that mothers of children with Down syndrome provided their children with less structure but more chaos than mothers of typically developing children. However, these differences between groups on parenting styles and dimensions no longer existed when we included parental stress in the analyses. Finally, we found that within the Down syndrome group negative parenting dimensions were positively correlated with child behavior problems.

The results suggested that mothers of children with Down syndrome are overall using similar parenting methods as mothers of typically developing children. All differences that do exist in parenting styles and dimensions can be accounted for by parental stress. As such, parenting interventions for parents of children with Down syndrome should be either focused on reducing parental stress in an effort to improve parenting techniques or on educating parents on how to utilize positive parenting techniques despite their stressful life circumstances.

Publication Date

2014

Publisher

University of Alabama

City

Tuscaloosa

Keywords

Down Syndrome, parenting, intellectual disability

Disciplines

Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Congenital, Hereditary, and Neonatal Diseases and Abnormalities | Other Psychology