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Gifted students’ perceptions of parenting styles associations with cognitive ability, sex, race, and age

Carolyn M. Callahan, PhD K. Rudasill J. Adelson D. V. Houlihan
Gifted Child Quarterly. December 31, 2013

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Children whose parents are warm and responsive yet also set limits and have reasonable expectations for their children tend to have better outcomes than their peers whose parents show less warmth and responsiveness, have low expectations, or both. Parenting behavior is related to family race and children’s sex, age, and cognitive ability. However, there is no work that examines how children’s cognitive abilities are related to their perceptions of their mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles and the extent to which these relationships are moderated by race, sex, and age in a sample of gifted students. Participants (N = 332, ages 9-17 years) attended a summer residential program for gifted students and completed the Parental Authority Questionnaire and the verbal battery of the Cognitive Abilities Test. Three main findings emerged. First, factor analyses provided support for the use of the Parent Authority Questionnaire with gifted populations. Second, findings from regression analyses as well as examinations of mean differences by cognitive ability level were consistent with earlier studies suggesting that more cognitively able students were likely to perceive their parents as employing a flexible (i.e., authoritative) parenting style. Finally, consonant with earlier studies with nonidentified populations, age, sex, and race were associated with parenting styles as reported by this group of identified gifted students. Results provide further support for the notion that authoritative parenting promotes positive outcomes for children, particularly those who have been identified as gifted.