Your Parenting Style Might Determine Your Child’s Political Leanings

How many parenting styles are there now, a million? Between helicopter parenting, free-range parenting, permissive parenting, and everything in between, everyone seems to have an opinion on which parenting style ultimately helps kids grow up happy and healthy. And a new study from Carnegie Mellon University suggests that parenting styles not only shape your child’s attachment style and overall mental health, but also their future political leanings.

The research team found that the two “main” parenting philosophies — helicopter (or disciplinary) parenting and free-range explorer parenting (or nurturing) — can lead to very different political ideologies. Ultimately, children who grow up with stricter or overinvolved parents tend to have more conservative beliefs, while children whose parents are more open to exploration tend to have more liberal ideals.

“There is a new dimension of parenting philosophy that has emerged [in recent decades] — free-running vs. helicopter parenting,” Danny Oppenheimer, professor of social and decision sciences in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said in a press release. “If the [helicopter parenting] If the trend continues, we can expect people to endorse greater interference with personal freedom in most social institutions.”

Oppenheimer explored a ‘government as family’ theory, hypothesizing that ‘a person’s belief about how government should function is strongly correlated with their personal belief about how families should function.

The researchers first asked 99 participants — nearly half who are parents, with the other half presumably child-free — 19 questions to find out what exactly influences a person’s acceptance of paternalistic government, or the “interference of a state or ‘ an individual with another person, against their will, and defended or motivated by a claim that the person involved will be better off or protected from harm.” And it turns out that parenting style preferences were the strongest predictor of whether or not a person would subscribe to this more conservative attitude.

“I was surprised how these results cut across political parties,” says Christian Lindke, a PhD candidate at the Center for Social Innovation at the University of California, Riverside and first author of the study. “Each party crosses the paternalism line depending on the issue being asked.”

The researchers then examined 150 participants’ reactions to newspaper headlines, changed the angle of the article (pro, con and neutral) and tracked participants’ reactions. Finally, the team looked at an additional 1,650 participants (60% of whom are parents), and this confirmed their findings: people who prefer disciplinary parenting also prefer paternalism, and this perspective bleeds into their opinions on everything from medicine to education to elderly care. .

“By knowing people’s preferences for helicopter parenting, we can understand people’s views on autonomy vs. foretells coercion in business, religion, sports, peer relations, medicine, politics,” Oppenheimer said. “We can even predict how middle-aged people will treat our elderly parents with regard to autonomy, which has implications for geriatric health.”

Previous studies have also suggested that helicopter parenting can be detrimental to children. Being overly involved in a child’s life can lead to a loss of autonomy, involvement in school and other activities, and overall happiness with life. It can even have a negative impact on the parent themselves. Still, many parents gravitate towards this style.

“I don’t want to sound alarmist because we really don’t know if the effects on children will be the same as the effects on citizens,” Oppenheimer said. “But if being helicoptered has similar effects on adults as children, we would expect to see increased mental health problems and lower self-efficacy across society.”

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