The objective of the present meta-analysis was to integrate the available research on associations of parenting styles with self-esteem in children and adolescents.
A systematic search in electronic databases (PSYCINFO, ERIC, Google Scholar, and PSYNDEX) and cross referencing identified 116 studies that were included in a random-effects meta-analysis.
Cross-sectional studies found small to moderate positive associations of authoritative parenting with self-esteem (r = 0.26; 95%-CI [0.24, 0.29]) while authoritarian (r = −0.18; 95%-CI [−0.21, −0.14]) and neglectful parenting (r = −0.18; 95%-CI [−0.23, −0.12]) were related to lower self-esteem in the offspring. A very small positive association of permissive parenting with self-esteem was observed in studies that defined permissiveness by low control and high warmth rather than only by low control (r = 0.07; 95%-CI [0.01, 0.12]). Cross-lagged analyses found evidence for child effects on change in authoritative (r = 0.13; 95%-CI [0.05, 0.21]) and neglectful parenting (r = −0.28; 95%-CI [−0.34, −0.22] but not on effects of parenting styles on change in self-esteem; however very few longitudinal studies were available. Few moderating effects of study characteristics were identified.
We conclude that correlations between parenting styles and child self-esteem cannot be interpreted as a pure effect of parenting styles and that more longitudinal research is urgently needed for testing potential bidirectional effects.