Parenting Styles & Socioeconomics

By Haydee Camacho
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An individual’s socioeconomic status is a combination of education, employment and income, and it’s a powerful determinant in a person’s quality of life. It has a strong influence on what type of parenting style a person will practice. People in lower socioeconomic groups tend to practice a stricter parenting style that stresses obedience, while those in higher socioeconomic groups use a more democratic style emphasizing decision-making and choice. Parenting style affects family stability, and economic, social and psychological outcomes for children.

Socioeconomics and Effects on Physical and Emotional Health

Low socioeconomic status is tied to poverty, lower levels of education and poor health, such as higher rates of cardiovascular disease, according to the American Psychological Association. Psychological stressors include depression, anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, conduct disorders and poor school performance. Higher socio-economic status tends to engender a sense of privilege, power and control in adults, resulting in higher self-esteem and optimism in children.

Socioeconomics and Social Capital

Parents in high socioeconomic households tend to promote their children's academic enhancement through educational games and extracurricular activities. Parents in low socioeconomic homes often do not encourage self-expression and are likely to "issue commands without explanation, are less likely to consult the child about his or her wishes, and less likely to reward the child verbally for behaving in desirable ways," according to research by the faculty of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

Socioeconomics and the Effect of School Performance

Because children from high socioeconomic homes are more likely to receive positive attention and are exposed to a range of enriching activities, they develop the confidence and self-motivation to navigate social settings and institutions with relative ease, according to a report from the Center on Education Policy, a division of George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. Children in low socioeconomic homes are less likely to engage in conversation, resulting in lower linguistic and cognitive abilities when they enter kindergarten, which often persist as they progress through school. Parents in low socioeconomic households often have nontraditional work schedules and are unable to attend school activities. Some families might also feel intimidated by cultural or language differences. Being less connected to their child’s school, they might not be able to easily acquire the information to help their children succeed, according to a 2006 paper in the "American Educational Research Journal."

Effect on Educational Policy

Family participation in education was twice as predictive of student's academic success as family socioeconomic status, according to the Michigan Department of Education. “The strongest and most consistent predictors of parent involvement at school and at home are the specific school programs and teacher practices that encourage parent involvement at school and guide parents in how to help their children at home,” according to the fact sheet, “What Research Says About Parent Involvement In Children’s Education.” Decades of research on the link between better student achievement and parental involvement has not been lost on policy makers. Education and child welfare policy from federal to local levels emphasize implementing parent and school partnerships, and educating parents on effective parenting styles.

About the Author

A native New Yorker, Haydee Camacho has been writing articles since 1986. Her work has appeared in "New York Daily News," "Newsday," "Big Apple Parenting," "Voice of Youth Advocates" and various community newspapers. Camacho holds a Master of Library and Information Science from St. John's University.