Parenting style 1
Dwairy, M., & Menshar K. E. (2005). Parenting style, individuation, and mental
health of adolescents in Egypt. Journal of adolescence. (in press).
Three questionnaires that measure parenting style, adolescent-family connectedness,
and mental health were administered to 351 Egyptian adolescents. Results show that in rural
communities the authoritarian style is more predominant in the parenting of male adolescents,
while the authoritative style is more predominant in the parenting of female adolescents. In
urban communities, on the other hand, the authoritarian style was more predominant in the
parenting of female adolescents. The connectedness of all female adolescents with their
family was stronger than that of male adolescents. The connectedness of girls was found to be
more emotional and financial in villages and to be more functional in town. Female
adolescents reported a higher frequency of psychological disorders. Mental health was
associated with authoritative parenting, but not with authoritarian parenting. It seems that
authoritarian parenting within an authoritarian culture is not as harmful as within a liberal
Keywords: Arabs, Egypt, Collective, Individuation, Parenting, Anxiety, Depression.
Parenting style 2
Socialization processes and psychological independence are two factors that are
diverse across cultures (Chaudhary, 2002; Triandis, 1995). More specifically, parenting style
and individuation in adolescence in western societies are found to differ from those in
collective societies (Dwairy, 1997, 1998a; Hill, 1995; Markus, & Kitayama, 1998;
Panagiotopoulou, 2002). The research reported in this article intended to study parenting
style, psychological connectedness, and mental health among Egyptian Arab adolescents.
The most widely used typology of parenting behaviors in the West is that developed
by Boumrind (Berg-Cross, 2000). Boumrind identified three parenting styles: Authoritarian,
authoritative, and permissive (Baumrind, 1967, 1991). Parents who practice the authoritarian
style focus on their control of the child, and his/her obedience. They restrict the autonomy of
their children and decide what appropriate behavior is for them (Baumrind, 1983; Reitman,
Rhode, Hupp, and Altobello, 2002). A variety of problems were identified among the children
of authoritarian parents in the west. These children tend to be uncooperative and to suffer
from depression, low self esteem, low initiative, and difficulties in making decisions in
adulthood (Baumrind, 1991; Bigner, 1994; Forward, 1989; Wenar, 1994; Whitfield, 1987).
Parents who adopt the permissive style encourage their children’s autonomy and
enable them to make their own decisions and regulate their own activities. They avoid
confrontation and tend to be warm, supportive people and do not care to be viewed by their
children as figures of authority. Children raised by permissive parents have poor social skills
and low self-esteem (Baumrind, 1991; Reitman, Rhode, Hupp, and Altobello, 2002) and are
often seen as selfish, dependent, irresponsible, spoiled, unruly, inconsiderate of other’s needs,
and antisocial (Bigner, 1994; Wenar, 1994).
The authoritative style is a compromise between the authoritarian and the permissive
style. Parents who adopt this style tend to have good nurturing skills and exercise moderate
parental control to allow the child to become progressively more autonomous (Baumrind,
1966, 1967, 1983, 1991; Reitman, Rhode, Hupp, and Altobello, 2002). Children raised
according to this style of parent are not completely restricted but rather are allowed a
reasonable degree of latitude in their behavior. Parents do enforce limits in various ways such
as reasoning, verbal give and take, overt power, and positive reinforcements. Children of
authoritative parents display high self-esteem and tend to be self-reliant, self-controlled,
secure, popular, and inquisitive (Buri et al., 1988; Wenar, 1994). They manifest fewer
psychological and behavioral problems than youth who are raised by authoritarian or
permissive parents (Lamborn, Mants, Steinberg & Dornbusch, 1991). (For review of parental
discipline, see Maccoby and Martin, 1983).
Inconsistent results regarding the effects of parenting style on children have emerged
from research among non-white cultures (Stewart & Bond, 2002). In some studies, levels of
self-concept, self-esteem, and academic performance of African-Americans (Baumrind, 1972;
Taylor, Hinton, & Wilson, 1995) and of Asian Americans (Steinberg et al., 1992) have been
shown to be lower, whether the authoritarian or the permissive parenting style is
implemented. Conversely, the results of some studies have shown that the authoritarian
parenting style produced the most assertive and independent African American girls
(Baumrind, 1972), and was related to higher competence in a high-risk environment
(Baldwin, Baldwin & Cole, 1990). According to the findings of Steinberg et al. (1994), Asian
Americans benefited more from the authoritarian than from the authoritative parenting style in
terms of adjustment and academic performance. Among Chinese families in Hong Kong and
the People’s Republic of China, while the authoritarian parenting style was found to effect the
achievement level of the children positively, the authoritative style had no effect in this regard
Parenting style 3
(Leung et al., 1998). The achievement levels of first-generation Chinese immigrants in USA
also benefit less from the authoritative style than those of European Americans (Chao, 2001).
A major area in which collective cultures differ from individualistic cultures is in their
individuation, dependency, and intergenerational connectedness. Whereas adolescents in
western societies are expected to be individuated from their families, having different
attitudes and values, emotionally detached, and self reliance (Hofstede, 1980; Triandis,
Bontempo, Villareal, Asai, & Lucca, 1988), adolescents in Asia, Africa, and South America,
where the sociocultural system is still collectivistic/authoritarian, are not encouraged to
develop individually from their families and are not, therefore, expected to pass through the
same process of individuation toward a differentiated self and identity. Individuals in these
societies, in which the concept of self is collectivistic and not different from the familial self
and identity, continue to be enmeshed in their families into adulthood (Triandis, 1990, 1996;
Dwairy & Van Sickle, 1996).
Hatab and Makki (1978), in their study of Arab youth, found that the majority reported
following their parents’ direction in most of the important areas of their life: social behavior,
interpersonal relationships, marriage, occupational preference, and political attitudes. That
they did not report that they suffer from this interdependent relationship but rather that they
are satisfied with this way of life is of interest.
It seems that the relationship between parenting styles on the one hand, and
individuation and mental health and functioning of the children, on the other, is inconsistent
across cultures. Based on the studies cited above, apparently it is the authoritative parenting in
the West that is associated with independency of the child’s identity and with better mental
health, while in some ethnic groups or collective societies authoritarian parenting is
associated with independency (Baumrind, 1972), and better functioning of the children
(Baldwin, et al. 1990; Hatab & Makki, 1978).
The Arab culture
Arabs live in an authoritarian and collective cultural system according to which the
family (extended and nuclear) is more important than the individual. Independence and self-
actualization are not encouraged but rather are seen as a sort of egoism. Within this system,
the psychological individuation of adolescents is not accomplished and the individual’s
identity continues to be enmeshed in the collective one into adulthood.
Some reports indicated that physical and emotional abuses are widespread styles of
parenting in Egypt (Saif El-Deen, 2001), Saudi Arabia, (Achoui, 2003), Bahrain (Al-
Mahroos, 2001), Jordan, (Al-Shqerat, & Al-Masri, 2001) and Morocco (Al-Kittani, 2000)
especially among low class, uneducated parents, and larger or dysfunctional families.
Generally speaking, authoritarianism is harsher toward females than males and they have less
choices and options in life (Shabib, 1993, Shabib, 2001, Abd Elkader, 1986). Their lives are
limited almost exclusively to the space within the borders of home and family life.
Conversely, boys enjoy a wider space of mobility and more choices and options. They are
therefore more able to maneuver within social authority and to find avenues for self-
expression. In addition, with regard to females authoritarianism focuses on modesty, mobility,
and sexual behavior, while with regard to males it focuses on social duties and responsibility
(Mohamad, 1985). In addition, girls are punished more harshly than boys. In extreme cases
immodest girls may be killed in the name of saving the so-called honor of the family
(Barakat, 1995, 2000; Dwairy, 1997a, 1997b, 1998a; Markaz al Mara’ah al Arabiyah, 2003)).
Despite the strict socialization toward female Arab children and adolescents, and because
Parenting style 4
females are more submissive, some studies indicated that authoritarian parenting and physical
punishments are applied more toward boys than girls (Al-Shqerat, & Al-Masri, 2001; Al-
Kittani, 2000; Dwairy, 2004b).
Arabic societies are diverse. They are presently passing through a rapid process of
urbanization, which increases the diversity between the sociocultural norms in rural neglected
areas and those in the more urbanized and developed areas (Zakariya, 1999). The percentage
of urbanization varies from 23% in Yemen and 24% in Somalia to 91% in Qatar and 96% in
Kuwait (UNDP, 2002). Barakat (1993, 2000) claims that Arabs who migrated to the cities in
fact took their traditional culture with them, and that, therefore, the culture of urbanized adults
does not substantially differ from that of rural ones. Many urban Arab families continue to
maintain an extended family structure where three generations or more live together as one
unit (Zayed & Lotfi, 1993). Assuming that Arab youths are exposed to a new open and free
lifestyle in town, their resulting new demands for freedom challenge the parents’ tradition.
Arab parents in the USA, for instance, are therefore much concerned about losing control of
the behavior of their children who are influenced by their American peer group, and
especially of the females (Abu Baker, 1997).
Few research studies have addressed the parenting styles among Arabs and its impact
on individuation and mental health. A series of studies conducted by the first author of this
article among Arab-Palestinians in Israel has revealed significant sex differences. Arabic girls
reported a more authoritative parenting style than boys, who reported a higher authoritarian
style. In addition, the authoritative parenting style was associated with better mental health of
both sexes, but unlike the results in the west, the authoritarian parenting style was not
associated with less mental health in terms of seven factors: self concept, self esteem, identity
disorder, anxiety disorder, phobia, depression, and conduct disorder (Dwairy, 2004b). In
another study that compared gifted and non-gifted Arab-Palestinian adolescents in Israel
gifted adolescents reported parenting styles which were more permissive and authoritative
than those which non-gifted adolescents reported. Non-gifted adolescents reported a more
authoritarian style. Authoritative parenting was associated with better mental health among
both groups, but interestingly, only among the gifted children was the authoritarian style
associated with less good mental health in terms of the seven criteria mentioned above
(Dwairy, 2004a). As for individuation and independence, the ego-identity of the Arab-
Palestinian adolescents tested by “objective measure of ego-identity status” (OMEIS),
(Adams, Shea, & Fitch, 1979), tends to be “foreclosed” by their parents or “diffused” or un-
crystallized. In addition they displayed a high level of emotional, financial, and functional
interdependence with their parents. The identity of male adolescents was more “foreclosed”
than that of the females. Female adolescents displayed a higher level of financial dependence
on their parents than males did (Dwairy, in press).
This study was conducted in Egypt, the largest Arab country, unlike the previous
studies which were conducted among the Palestinian minority in Israel. The study had a
twofold objective: (a) to test the effect of urbanization and sexual differences on parenting
style, individuation, and mental health of adolescents, (b) to test the relationship between
parenting styles on the one hand and the individuation and mental health of adolescents on the
Three questionnaires were administered to 351 (212 male and 139 female) Egyptian
adolescents in the 11th grade of school (16-17 years old). The sample comprised 50% rural
and 50% urban adolescents. The mean number of siblings and education years of parents was
Parenting style 5
4.3 and 3.3 respectively in the rural and 3.5 and 3.6 in the urban sample, respectively in the
urban sample. The mean of the subjective rating (on a scale from 1=low to 5=high) of the
family economic level was 3.0 in the rural sample and 3.6 in the urban sample.
The questionnaires were administered by schoolteachers in school. Their completion took 50-
60 minutes. Participation of the sample subjects was voluntary; however none of the students
refused to participate. Only 24 students did not complete all the questionnaires and were
therefore excluded from the sample. In accordance with the Egyptian rules, the consent of the
school inspector and the parents’ committee was obtained.
Three questionnaires were administered
Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ)
Based on the original English questionnaire on parental authority styles (Buri, 1991), an
Arabic version had been developed and validated in two studies among Palestinian Arab
adolescents (Dwairy, 2004a, 2004b). The Arabic, like the English version, consists of 30
items: Ten items associated with each of the three parenting styles, authoritarian,
authoritative, and permissive. The subjects are directed to respond to each item on a 5-point
Likert scale ranging from 1=not agree to 5=agree. Three scores are obtained, reflecting the
three styles. The internal consistency measured by the Alpha Cronbach’s coefficient of each
style ranged between .65 and .79. Confirmatory principal factor analysis of the Arabic scale
indicated that all items that comprise each parenting style matched accordingly (for more
details about the validity of the scale see Dwairy, 2004a, 2004b).
Multigenerational Interconnectedness Scale (MIS)
The scale comprises three-factor analytically-derived subscales intended to assess
emotional, financial, and functional connectedness of adolescents with their family. The
Emotional Connectedness subscale comprises 15 items which inquire into the subject’s
current emotional and psychological dependence on family members, e.g., “I rely on family
members’ approval to let me know when I am doing things right.” The Financial
Connectedness subscale comprises eight items relating to monetary reliance on family
members, e.g., “Family members help me pay for my major living expenses,” and the
Functional Connectedness subscale consists of eight items which refer to sharing daily
routines with family, e.g., “I take vacations with members of my family.” Adolescents are
asked to respond to the items by rating on a scale of 1 to 7 how often they currently have
these experiences in their relationships with family members. The results of these subscales of
interconnectedness may be thought of as defining part of the individuation process, one of the
delineations of the sense of self within a relational context (Karpel, 1976). A primary marker
of higher individuation is the expectation that offspring will become less emotionally,
financially, and functionally dependent on the family as they mature (Meyer, 1980). This
scale was used by the first author to measure the independency of adolescents with their
parents. The Arabic version was translated (two-way translation) from the original scale and
then validated (Dwairy, 2003). The internal consistency of the scale was good. Cronbach’s
coefficient alpha for the Arabic scale was .80. For the Emotional Connectedness subscale .68,
for Financial Connectedness .83, and for Functional Connectedness .71. The structural
internal validity of the scale was tested by a principal factor analysis, which showed good
convergence of the items into the three subscales. All Financial Connectedness items and one
Functional Connectedness item loaded higher than .30 in one factor. All Functional
Connectedness items and one Emotional Connectedness item loaded higher than .30 on
another factor; and 12 of the 15 Emotional Connectedness items and one Functional
Connectedness item loaded higher than .30 on a third factor. The other three items of the
Parenting style 6
Emotional Connectedness subscale loaded on Factor 3, with loadings between .23 and .29
(For more details on the validation of the scale see Dwairy, 2003).
The Psychological State Scale (PSS)
This scale was developed in Arabic by Hamuda and Imam (1996) to assess twenty-
seven psychological states among adolescents and adults in Egypt. Five items, each of which
the subject is asked to endorse or reject (2=yes, 1=not sure, and 0=no), were designed to
pertain to each state. The scores of each scale are summed. A high score indicates a
psychological disorder. The PSS was originally developed to detect twenty-seven
psychological disorders in a group setting. For the purpose of our study and for economic
reasons, we chose to examine only four psychological states that are relevant to adolescents.
We selected the items that pertain to the following psychological states:
1. Identity disorders (e.g.: I do not know who I am and what I want).
2. Generalized anxiety disorder (e.g.: While I am doing something I feel anxious).
3. Depression (e.g.: I feel sad most of the time).
4. Conduct Disorder (e.g.: Using violence makes others respect me).
Factor analysis of the scale, when applied to normal and clinical Arab samples in Egypt,
showed good convergence of the items into the five psychological states indicating good
internal-structural validity of the scale. Comparison between the two groups revealed
significant differences between the normal and clinical participants in all of the above
subscales. Taking into account the fact that the number of items in each subscale is small (five
items), the split-half reliability coefficients were good to moderate (Hamuda and Imam,
1996). Validation of the PSS done among Palestinian Arabs revealed that the internal
consistency of the scales was moderate (.65) to good (.91). Factor analysis revealed moderate
to good internal-structural validity of the identity, anxiety, depression, and conduct disorder
sub-scales of PSS. (For more details concerning validation of PSS among Palestinian Arabs
see Dwairy, 2004a, 2004b.)
Validation of the tools:
Despite the fact that all the questionnaires used had been validated among Arabs, we
found a need to validate them also among Egyptian Arabs. A principal factor analysis was
applied to test the structure validity of PAQ, MIS, and PSS. Based on the theoretical structure
of PAQ and MIS, an a priori three-factors solution was adopted with varimax rotation and a
.10 item-factor loading criterion. Except for one item regarding the permissive style, all the
29 items which comprise the PAQ were matched accordingly with item-factor loadings
between .17 and .65. Only two items had shared item-factor loadings in more than one factor.
The same factor analysis was applied to the items of MIS. Except for one item regarding
emotional connectedness all the 30 items which comprise the three kinds of connectedness
were matched accordingly with item-factor loadings between .18 and .71. Twelve items had
shared item-factor loadings in more than one factor. Based on the theoretical structure of PSS,
an a priori four-factors solution was adopted with varimax rotation and a .10 item-factor
loading criterion. All the 20 items which comprise each disorder were matched accordingly
with item-factor loadings between .20 and .79. Ten items had shared item-factor loadings in
more than one factor.
The internal consistency of each sub-scale was tested by Cronbach’s alpha coefficient.
The coefficients of the permissive, authoritarian and authoritative style were .62, .64 and .76,
respectively. The coefficients of the emotional, functional and financial connectedness were
.67, .75 and .60, respectively. Finally, the coefficients of the identity, anxiety, depression and
conduct disorder were .69, .62, .64 and .61, respectively. Although some of the Cronbach’s
alpha coefficients were low but the fact that most items had been converged accordingly in
Parenting style 7
factor analysis and based on former validation studies on the scales (Dwairy, 2004a, 2004b)
we found it safe to use these scales in our research.
Effect of sex and urbanization on parenting styles:
In order to test the effect of urbanization and sex on parenting styles, connectedness,
and psychological disorders, we conducted a two-way multivariate analysis of variance
(MANOVA). Urbanization was found to have a significant main effect on the authoritative
parenting style [F(1,338)=12.88, p<.0001] (Table 1): Adolescents in villages reported a more
authoritative parenting style than did adolescents in town. A significant interactive effect
between urbanization and sex on both authoritarian [F(1,338)=14.36, p<.0001] and
authoritative [F(1,338)=9.90, p<.002] parenting styles was found. Sex and urbanization was
found to have no main effect on the permissive parenting style. A post hoc analysis revealed
that male adolescents in the villages reported a higher level of authoritarian style than did
females [t(175)=3.28, p<.001], this trend is reversed in the town where female adolescents
reported a more authoritarian style than males [t(163)=2.18, p<.031]. In villages female
adolescents reported a more authoritative parenting style than males [t(175)=3.66, p<.0001].
No such sex-related difference was found in town.
Insert table 1 here
Sex and urbanization effect on intergenerational connectedness
A two-way MANOVA analysis revealed a significant main effect of sex on the three
types of interconnectedness. Female adolescents disclosed higher emotional [F(1, 338)=6.37,
p<.012], financial [F(1, 338)=4.90, p<.028], and functional connectedness [F(1, 338)=4.81,
p<.029] than male adolescents. No significant main effects of urbanization or significant
interaction with regard to intergenerational connectedness were found. A post hoc t test
comparing the means of connectedness scores of males versus females in the villages and in
town revealed that the main effect of sex on emotional and financial connectedness occurred
in the villages, and on functional connectedness in town. Female adolescents in the villages
were more connected to their families emotionally and financially than males [t(170)=2.11,
p<.036; t(176)=2.03, p<.043, respectively], while in town it was the functional connectedness
of females that was stronger than that of males [t(162)=2.24, p<.025].
Sex and urbanization effects on mental health:
A two-way MANOVA analysis revealed that sex had a significant main effect on all
mental health measures. Female adolescents reported higher levels of identity problems,
anxiety and depression; than did boys who, however, reported higher levels of conduct
disorders (Table 1). Conversely, urbanization was found to exert a significant main effect
only with regard to conduct disorders [F(1,338)=19.58, p<.0001]. It seems that both boys and
girls in town display a higher level of conduct disorder than they display in villages. A
significant interaction effect was found with regard to anxiety disorders [F(1,338)=10.19,
p<.002]. Post hoc analysis indicated that only in villages did girls report a higher level of
anxiety than did boys [t(178)=4.64, p<.0001].
Relationship between parenting style, connectedness, and mental health
Multiple-regression analysis was applied to assess the relationship between the three
parenting styles entered together in a single step and the three kinds of connectedness, and the
four measures of identity, anxiety, depression, and conduct disorders. The regression models
of the three kinds of connectedness, identity, and conduct disorders were significant. The R
squares indicated a moderate to low goodness of fit of the model (Table 2). Standardized Beta
coefficients indicated a significant positive relationship between the authoritative parenting
Parenting style 8
style and the three kinds of connectedness, and a significant negative relationship between
authoritative parenting style and identity and conduct disorders.
Insert tables 2 and 3 here
Multiple-regression analysis between the three kinds of connectedness entered together
in a single step and the four measures of mental health revealed that the regression models of
the identity, depression, and conduct disorders were significant. The R squares indicated a
moderate to low goodness of fit of the model (Table 3). The standardized Beta coefficients
indicated a significant negative relationship between functional connectedness and identity
and depression disorders, and between financial connectedness and conduct disorder.
Based on cross-cultural differences reported in parenting style, individuation, and
mental health, three questionnaires that assess these variables were administered among Arab-
Egyptian adolescents: The Psychological State Scale, Multigenerational Interconnectedness
Scale, and The Psychological State Scale. After validating the questionnaire among Egyptian
adolescents, the effect of sex and urbanization upon these variables and the relationship
between parenting style on the one hand, and connectedness and mental health on the other,
With regard to the effect of urbanization and sex differences on parenting style, the
results indicate that the parenting styles applied to male and female adolescents in the villages
seem to be reversed in town. In the villages, the authoritarian style was applied more in the
parenting of male than of female adolescents, while the authoritative style was applied more
to female than to male adolescents. In town, on the other hand, the authoritarian style was
applied more in the parenting of female than of male adolescents (Table 1). The sex
differences pertaining to parenting styles found in the Egyptian villages seem to be consistent
with other studies (Al-Shqerat, & Al-Masri, 2001; Al-Kittani, 2000) and similar to those
found among the parallel Palestinian sample in Israel. In both samples, male adolescents
reported a more authoritarian and less authoritative parenting style than female adolescents
(Dwairy, 2004b). On the surface, these results seem to contradict many studies in which
harsher and stricter authoritarianism and abuse toward the Arab women were found (Dwairy,
1998a, Shabib, 1993, Shabib, 2001, Abd Elkader, 1986). The authors therefore suggest that
this sex-based disparity should be attributed to the differences in how authoritarianism is
applied to the two sexes in rural areas, and in its focus. Based on study conducted on about
ten thousand Egyptian youths (Mohamad, 1985) one can realize that authoritarianism with
regard to males in Egyptian villages is focused on obligations, responsibilities, and duties,
while with regard to female adolescents the focus is on modesty, mobility, and sexual
behavior. Within rural life, where traditions are in force and stable, girls are more threatened
and submissive, and dare to challenge the tradition less than boys do, and therefore fewer
active debates and conflicts occur between them and their parents (Mohamad, 1985; Markaz
al Mara’ah al Arabiyah, 2003). In addition, within this cultural system, Arab females are
raised to identify with the oppressor and justify the restrictions upon them (Dwairy, 1997b,
1998a), and thus, being less aware of the abuse, they complain less than boys about
authoritarianism and restrictions. Boys, on the other hand, being less threatened and
submissive, are more daring when it comes to challenging restrictions and obligations. More
confrontations and conflicts therefore occur between them and their parents. Thus village
boys’ experience of authoritarianism is more salient and they dare more to report it. In town,
tradition, especially concerning the modesty of female adolescents who are exposed to free
values, is challenged. It is therefore safe to assume that more debates and conflicts between
parents and their daughters will occur in towns, and that the parents become actively
Parenting style 9
controlling in order to regulate the behavior of their daughters (Zayed & Lotfi, 1993). Thus
female adolescents in town actually experience authoritarianism more than their counterparts
in the village and more than male adolescents in town. Put it in another way, it seems that in
rural areas male adolescents challenge authoritarianism while female adolescents submit and
may identify with the authoritarian control. In town, on the other hand, the perceived lack of
modesty and the freedom of female adolescents become a major challenge to traditions, and
therefore the authoritarian parenting style is actively enforced with regard to female
The level of connectedness of female adolescents with their family was higher than
that of male adolescents indicating a lower level of individuation among female adolescents
than among males. As compared to boys, the connectedness of girls in villages was more
emotional and financial and in town was more functional. These results may indicate that in
town girls spend more time with their parents than do boys despite the fact that, in terms of
emotional and financial connectedness to parents, they do not differ from the boys. These
results suggest that, in spite of the space and freedom the town is supposed to offer, in fact
Arab girls in town spend most of their time with their parents and continue to be controlled
and observed by them. This interpretation fits other studies concerning Arab families in town
(Zayed & Lotfi, 1993).
As for mental health, female adolescents in villages and towns reported a higher level
of psychological disorders than male adolescents. This may indicate their distress and
helplessness in the face of having to cope within the authoritarian Arab society. The Arab
female adolescents experience a higher level of anxiety than males in the villages.
Interestingly, female adolescents in town displayed a level of conduct disorders similar to that
of their male counterparts, but a higher level than females in the villages display. This finding
may give support to the explanation mentioned above which suggests that the girls in town
dare to challenge the authority and therefore actually experience more authoritarian parenting.
It seems that in town more confrontations are taking place between the girls and their
parents. The existence of these confrontations is indicated by the fact that town girls displayed
more conduct disorders than village girls on the one hand, while the parents, on the other
hand, become more authoritarian in town and keep their daughters under observation and in
their control as indicated by the high functional connectedness of girls in town. These
findings may indicate that the effect of urbanization on child-parent relationships is sexually
dependent: In town the parental attitude toward boys has become less authoritarian, while the
attitude toward girls has become more authoritarian. Similar picture had been reported
concerning Arab immigrated families in USA (Abu Baker, 1997).
As concerns the relationship between parenting styles and individuation, results of
multiple regression indicated that the authoritative parenting style is associated with more
connectedness and better mental health (Table 2). Authoritarian parenting was associated only
to emotional connectedness, and permissive parenting had no association with any kind of
connectedness. Connectedness in itself was associated with better mental health too (Table 3).
The association between authoritative style and mental health is consistent with previous
reports pertaining to western societies (Buri et al., 1988; Lamborn, Mants, Steinberg &
Dornbusch, 1991; Wenar, 1994) as well as those pertaining to Arabs (Dwairy, 2004a, 2004b).
On the other hand, the association between authoritative style and connectedness is not
consistent with reports published in the western literature that associated that style with
individuation rather than with connectedness (Baumrind, 1966, 1967, 1991; Buri et al., 1988;
Wenar, 1994). It seems that, unlike among western adolescents, among Arab adolescents an
authoritative parenting style fosters connectedness.
Parenting style 10
Consistent with previous results from studies of Palestinian adolescents (Dwairy,
2004a, 2004b), the mental health of the Egyptian adolescents was not associated with
authoritarian parenting style. These consistent findings contradict the reports in the west
which associate the authoritarian parenting style with disruption of conscience development,
aggressiveness, resistance to authority, future addictions, problems with regard to intimate
relationships, uncooperativeness, depression, low self-esteem, low initiative, and difficulties
in making decisions in adulthood (Baumrind, 1991; Bigner, 1994; Buri, 1991; Forward, 1989;
Wenar, 1994 & Whitfield, 1987). Based on our results, it seems that the meaning and effect of
the authoritarian parenting style within an authoritarian, collective culture differs substantially
from the meaning and effect within a liberal, individualistic society. The consistent findings
among both Palestinians and Egyptians concerning the lack of association between
authoritarian parenting style and mental health may indicate that the effect of authoritarian
parenting is not as harmful within an authoritarian culture as within a liberal culture. This may
suggest that the inconsistency between the authoritarian parenting style and the liberal
individualistic culture may contribute to the harm that this style of parenting causes in the
west. These cross-cultural differences concerning the effect of authoritarian parenting on
individuation and mental health of adolescents have important practical and clinical
implications. They are supposed to direct counselors to avoid judgmental attitudes and be
more flexible and open in understanding clients and their families who come from
authoritarian/collective background, and to apply more culturally empathic-sensitive
Although the technique of self-report, on which this study relies, has been used in many
studies of adolescent subjects, it has important limitations. In this study, the results reflect
how the adolescents perceive their parents’ parenting styles, and therefore the deductions that
can be drawn from the results are open to question. Further validation, using other converging
assessment techniques, such as observations, psychological tests or parents’ self-report, is
required. Furthermore, since the Arab world is very diverse in terms of societal norms, more
research is needed in a number of other Arab countries to validate our results.
Parenting style 11
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Parenting style 15
The means of PAQ, MIS, and PSS according to urbanization and sex.
Village Town Significant factors
F M F M F p Eta Sq.
PAQ Perm. M
.83 Not significant
.97 Interaction 14.36 .000 .045
MIS Emot. M
.14 Sex 6.37 .012 .020
.19 Sex 4.90 .028 .016
.17 Sex 4.80 .029 .015
PSS Id. M
.46 Sex 13.80 .000 .043
Interaction 3.46 .064
.42 Sex 19.73 .000 .060
Constants, R square, and standardized Beta coefficients of multiple-regression of parenting
styles and connectedness and mental health.
Connectedness Constant R sq. F Perm. Athv. Athn.
Emotional 32.41 .14
Financial 3.55 .12
Functional 2.66 .04
General 25.85 .17
Identity 10.79 .03
Anxiety 10.72 .01 .88 -.07 -.00 .05
Depression 9.69 .01 .90 .02 -.05 .06
Conduct 10.96 .09
General 10.64 .03
Parenting style 16
Constants, R square, and standardized Beta coefficients of multiple-regression of
Connectedness and mental health.
Mental health Constant R sq. F Emot. Finan. Funct.
Identity 12.45 .06
6.44** .05 -.08
Anxiety 10.73 .02 2.07 .12 -.06 -.12
Depression 10.70 .04
3.17* .10 -.02
Conduct 11.68 .11
General 11.39 .06