The ways in which mothers and fathers raise their children depends on a complex interplay of social factors. Social factors such as economics, social class, family composition, race and cultural beliefs can have a particularly significant effect on how parents rear their children. These social factors can affect nearly every parenting decision a family makes, from how to discipline kids to who cares for the children.
Economics can have a significant effect on child rearing. T.J. Zirpoli, author of “Behavior Management: Applications for Teachers,” explains that children who grow up in poverty are at increased risk for academic failure, social difficulties and behavioral challenges. Often, these risk factors come from inadequate educational resources and lack of access to prevention programs. Likewise, children who grow up with parents who are chronically unemployed might have less education than other parents and therefore, have less knowledge of effective child-rearing practices.
The persons present in the family’s daily life affect child-rearing. A single mother of two children might have to rely on her older child to assume care-giving duties for the younger child. This might not be necessary in a two-parent family or a family in which a grandparent lives with her single adult child and grandchildren. Likewise, the family’s personally defined roles can affect child-rearing. For instance, some families might choose a traditional structure, with the mother serving as a primary caregiver while in other families, the mother and father might agree to share parenting responsibilities equally.
A family’s ethnic or cultural views are a strong predictor of child-rearing practices. A family’s culture can dictate how much freedom and responsibility parents give their children. Furthermore, cultural views play strongly into how parents choose to discipline their children. For example, the child advocacy group Bridging Refugee Youth and Children’s Services explains that corporal punishment -- even that which constitutes physical abuse in the United States -- is a normal and accepted form of discipline in some cultures.
Although sometimes related to culture and social class, a parent’s individual preferences, personality and choice of parenting style affects how he rears his child, explains researchers from Louisiana State University AgCenter. For example, some parents believe in an authoritarian style of parenting, where the child is expected to comply with all parent directives without questioning the reason behind these directives. On the other end of the spectrum are permissive parents, who set few boundaries for their children. Between these two parenting styles are authoritative parents, who make clear rules, but also encourage discussion and insight from their children.