Open Journal of Social Sciences
2013. Vol.1, No.6, 43-49
Published Online November 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/jss) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/jss.2013.16009
Open Access 43
Parental Authority Styles of Parents with Attention Deficit
Hadas Doron, Adi Sharbani
Tel-Hai Academic College, Tel Hai, Israel
Received November 2013
The aim of the present study is to examine the differences between parents (mothers and fathers) with at-
tention deficit disorders (ADD), and parents without ADD, regarding their characterizing parenting style
(permissive, authoritarian and authoritative) according to Baumrind (1971, 1991). Many theories have
aimed to describe and conceptualize the concept of parental authority style. The present research uses
Baumrind’s (1971, 1991) theory, which offers three characteristic styles of parental authority, addresses
the ways in which parents settle the needs of their children, by means of nurturing and limit setting, each
according to his typical style: permissive, authoritarian and authoritative. The point of departure for this
study is, that the parent’s gender in combination with the parent being diagnosed as with ADD, will pre-
dict his parental authority style. Different researches in the field of Attention Deficit disorders (ADD)
point to gender differences in different characteristics along developmental stages from childhood to
adulthood (Chen, Seipp, & Johnson, 2008). Thus, we postulated that fathers with ADD will be character-
ized as with different parenting styles than mothers with ADD, and in comparison to a control group.
Based on different studies, we assumed that fathers with ADD will be characterized by a less responsible
behavior, yet they will be more direct and active; while mothers with ADD will be typified as more inva-
sive, demanding and negative (Berger & Landau, 2009; Chronis-Tuscano et al., 2008). In addition, we
hypothesized that fathers with ADD will be found as more permissive compared to the control group,
while mothers with ADD would be more authoritative compared to the control group. The sample in-
cluded 62 men, 30 with ADD and 32 control subjects without ADD, and 61 women, 30 with ADD and 31
without ADD. In order to examine the hypotheses subjects were instructed to reflect upon their parenting
style in present and/or in the past, and to report it while completing the questionnaire. Parental authorita-
tive style was examined by means of the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ) developed by Buri
(1991), measuring the parenting styles as conceptualized by Baumrind. The findings of the research re-
veal no significant differences between fathers and mothers without ADD, in neither of the parenting
styles, also no significant difference was found between with ADD and mothers without ADD in each of
the parenting styles.
Keywords: Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD); Permissive Parenting Style; Authoritarian Parenting Style;
Mothers Authority; Fathers Author i t y
Attention Deficit Disorder and Gender
Differences amo ng Adults
According to Rucklidge, Brown, Crawford & Kaplan (2007)
today approximately 2% of the adult population is affected by
the disorder. Biederman et al. (2004), Hun lee, Oakland, Jack-
son & Glutting (2008) maintain that in adulthood the incidence
of the disorder is comparatively more balanced between gend-
ers than in childhood (2:1 for males in relative to females).
Rasmussen & Levander (2009) and Chtonis-Tuscano et al.
)2008( claim that today there are more evidence that the dis-
order commenced in childhood and pertains in adulthood.
However less studies address ADD in adulthood and fewer deal
with gender differences among adults with ADD (Rucklidge et
al., 2007). Rasmussen & Levander (2009) mentioned that most
of the studies in this field were based on male subjects.
A study by Biederman et al. (2004) have found a co-morbid-
ity of at least one additional disorder among 34% of the women
with ADD and among 50% of the men. Among women a lower
prevalence was found of conduct disorders (a combined disord-
er of affect and behavior) or of antisocial disorder than among
men. In Rasmussen & Levander’s study (2009), a significant
difference was found between genders in emotional disorders
(more women) and in dyslexia (more men). Among children no
significant difference was found in these fields. However
among men, as in children, studies documented a more externa-
lized behavior than among women. Also a significant differ-
ence was found with regard to abuse and delinquency, which
was found more prevalent among men. Another study found
that women with ADD have less assets, lower self perception,
and more problems than men, all of which may lead to higher
dependency towards their male counterparts (Quinn, 2005;
Rasmussen & Levander, 2009).
Furthermore, it was found that students that report them-
selves as having ADD are less achievers than students that do
not report having ADD. The former report concerns regarding
their academic achievements, higher levels of stress, social
difficulties and rate themselves as less emotionally stable. Ad-
ditionally, they were more prone to alcohol abuse as well as to
smoking and using marihuana. Although success during school
is marked, and in light of the fact that they succeed in being
H. DORON, A. SHARBANI
accepted to superior academic institutions, research have found
that hardships and efforts go on throughout life (Blasé, 2009).
In the field of parenthood solely scarce research was con-
ducted, nevertheless Quinn (2005) found that women that were
not diagnosed with ADD, compared to diagnosed women, were
more capable of consistency as parents, and were less “getting
along” at work and in the household. In contrast, Rucklidge et
al. (2007) mention that they did not found any differences be-
tween women with ADD, and men with ADD. Biederman et al.
(2004) found that adult men and women with ADD have de-
mographic, psychosocial and cognitive patterns that are com-
patible with findings that were recorded with young boys and
girls with the disorder.
At first, researchers have tried to conceptualize parental au-
thority styles based on specific parenting characters, yet those
efforts failed to supply a clear and inclusive image, within the
concoction of complex parenting traits. With the development
of research in this field, three determinants were given major
attention, which provide a clearer and more effective picture:
the emotional climate between a parent and his child, parenting
methods, i.e. parents’ behaviors and customs, and the par enting
beliefs system towards which the child’s socialization is di-
rected on behalf of his parents (Darling & Steinberg, 1993).
Therefore this model offers to examine the parenting style
throughout the array of attitudes directed by t he parent towards
the child, embedding all of the feelings, gestures and behaviors,
through which, in practice, the parent performs his role in face
of his child (Darling & Steinberg, 1993).
Baumrind’s (1971) parental authority model defines parental
authority as a set of approaches underlying parents’ behaviors
towards their child. This behavior, as a part of the socialization,
includes all the goal-directed acts of parenting practice, as well
as those that are not goal-directed such as body gestures, voice
intonation or the spontaneous change of emotional expressive-
ness, meaning—the emotional climate.
Baumrind’s (1971) study also gives rise to the idea that the
child’s socialization—allowing him to adapt and conform to
essential environmental demands while preserving a certain
sense of personal entirety—is the key to parents’ functioning.
Hence the concept of “parental authority” has developed, a con-
cept formerly being perceived as strictness, as using physical
and consistent punishment etc. In contrast, Baumrind called for
a conceptual distinction in using the term “parental authority”,
which in her study meant the parent’s demand of his child’s
behavioral adaptation as a part of his integration in the familial
and social settings.
In light of this definition, we can acknowledge the impor-
tance in imparting and delineating emotional patterns, methods
and values, derived from parenting styles and parenting values
and beliefs regarding the essence of their role and the nature of
their child (Darling & Steinberg, 1993).
Baumrind was distinguished from other researchers of her
time, in that she defined “parental authority” as a broader pa-
renting function, and instead of organizing it in a linear manner,
from low authority to high authority, she differentiated between
three styles of parental authority, each has distinctive characte-
ristics: Permissive, authoritarian and authoritative (Baumrind,
Herrin after we present in detail each of the parenting styles
according to Baumrind:
Parental Authority Styles
Three Parental Authority Styles Model According to
A factor analysis of parents’ behaviors yielded two evident
dimensions, the first ‘demanding’ and the second “responsibili-
ty”. Within the model offered by Baumrind three quintessential
styles of parental authority were found, describing how parents,
by setting and fostering limits, settle their children’s needs. The
distinction of each style depends upon the social content, the
developmental stage and evaluation methods (Baumrind, 1991;
Permissive Parenting Style
Parents with this “non-directive” style are characterized by
over permission in face of their children’s demands towards
them, compared to the number of times in which parents set
demands to their children. Also these parents ar e usually readily
to make concessions, avoid conflicts and external limit setting,
and allow their children to explore and examine their environ-
ment and their boundaries of self regulation by themselves,
while independently making decisions according to their will.
In fact, these parents, relatively, lack control over their children
and tend to use the least possible means of punishment. This
parenting style integrates high parental support, low control and
little demands for mature behavior. These parents usually
gained a similar way of upbringing from their parents (Bau-
mrind, 1971, 1991; Buri, 1991).
Authoritarian Parenting Style
Authoritarian parents are characterized by demand and di-
recting, nevertheless they are characterized by emotional dis-
tance, i.e.—lack of warmth. They demand obedience and in
accordance they do not encourage independence and free will
from the part of their children. They are guided by the role they
have undertaken, with the expectation that their instructions be
fulfilled without any explanations or verbal negotiation in the
form of “give and take”, with a preference towards punishment
means to control the children. However, they provide an orga-
nized environment, clear instructions and meticulous supervi-
sion on their children deeds. This style of parenting integrates
both coercive control efforts and low support.
Authoritative Parenti ng Style
Authoritative parents tend to be located between the edges of
the two other styles mentioned above. They are characterized
by demand and responsibility. They believe in and acknowl-
edge their rights and duties as parents, and accordingly they
supervise and set clear and consistent demands, according to
which they expect their children to act. These parents are asser-
tive, yet not invasive or binding, due to their recognition of
their child’s uniqueness and will. Their approach is typified by
support, warmth, flexibility, abilities to understand and com-
municate with their children, implementing reason and a “give
and take” verbal negotiation instead of punishment and expec-
tations for obedience. Their expectations however are that their
children be assertive and socially responsible, as well as orga-
nized and cooperative. Thus one can observe integration be-
tween the demands for maturity from the children on one hand,
while affording high parental support and a warm climate from
the other hand. These parents are aware to the possibility that
they are apt to mistakes in their lives and that they are not a
H. DORON, A. SHARBANI
single and definite authority in their children’s lives.
Later in her study, Baumrind (1991) expended her model to
include a fourth parenting style, one she defined as “rejecting-
neglecting”. This “disengaged” parenting style is characterized
by low levels of responsiveness and demand from the part of
the parents. They are not understood, not responsible, not sup-
portive and even actively reject their children, or alternatively
neglect them or any accountability for them.
The present research will not refer to this last parenting style
due to its extremism.
In the past attention deficit was investigated solely among
children, yet nowadays, however the scarce research in this
field, it is well knows that attention deficit disorder persists to
adulthood. In a research conducted in 2006 it was found that
adults with ADD have, in addition to difficulties in school, also
occupational, social and parental difficulties, compared to
adults without ADD (Rasmussen & Levander, 2009).
Chen et al. (2009) claim that many of the existing researches
addressed the relationships between the mother and the ADD
child, yet the few studies that addressed the relationship be-
tween the father and the ADD child found significant differ-
ences in their attitude and parental behavior compared to the
Familial studies regarding child ren with ADD fou nd that 15%
- 20% of mothers and 20% - 30% of fathers by themselves have
ADD. Estimates are that 60% of children to diagnosed parents
are likely to be diagnosed themselves as with ADD. This inter-
generational transmission was mainly attributed to develop-
mental neurological, social and intellectual vulnerability. How-
ever, organic environment, familial influences and unfavorable
patterns of interaction between parents and their children were
also found as influential (Amiel-Laviad, Atzaba-Poria, Auer-
bach, Berger, & Landau, 2009; Chronis-Tuscano et al., 2008;
Daley, Psychogiou, Sonuga-Barke, & Thompson, 2008).
Recently more and more research was devoted to investigat-
ing the variance in parental behavior between parents with
ADD, compared to parents without ADD. Sychogiou, Daley,
Thompson & Sonuga (2007) studied the relation between par-
ents with ADD and their children and found significant deficits
in the parenthood of the diagnosed group.
Murry & Johnson (2006) fortify this argument through some
studies, which point to a negative relation between parental
qualifications and ADD symptoms. Studies that rely primarily
on self-report scales, suggest that parents with ADD have higher
probability of decreased quality of parenthood, they are more
likely to display more negative and chaotic parenthood, with
higher levels of familial conflict and lower levels of coherence.
This parenthood style is characterized by impulsive decision
making that is expressed by difficulty to restrain reactions and
by high emotional involvement, and may find expression in
rigidity and physical or verbal punishments, that many times
are unsuitable to the situation, even not in relation to former
conduct in similar situations. Additionally, this parenthood
style is characterized by inconsistency, recurring action and
lessened ability of self observation.
In light of the above, one may come to see how ADD nega-
tively influences the quality of parenthood, parent-child rela-
tionships, effective parental supervision, social relations and the
ability to implement structured and organized techniques of
parenting. Moreover, it was found that parental and familial
roles are violated when one of the parents have ADD. It seems
that the presence of one disorganized, non-attentive and hyper-
active partner may interfere with the total organization, and
may still weaken the parenting behavior of the partner without
ADD (Murry & Johnson, 2006).
Some studies on fathers with ADD found that they showed
less responsible behaviors in parent-child interaction compared
to mothers however fathers were found to be more direct and
overly active (Amiel-Laviad, Atzaba-Poria, Auerbach, Berger,
& Landau, 2009; Chronis-Tuscano et al., 2008).
Other studies conducted on mothers with ADD revealed that
they displayed more invasiveness, demanding/sermonizing and
negativity such as: ordering the child without allowing him to
reply; less approving and encouraging and express less positive
emotion, compared to mothers without ADD. In addition these
mothers were characterized by poorer supervision of their
child’s behavior, due to lower levels of involvement; less con-
sistency in disciplinary matters and also showed lower levels of
effectiveness in their problem solving skills.
123 participants (see Table 1) comprised the sample. Partic-
ipants were required to be parents to at least one child, no age
limitation. The subjects’ average age was 39.97 years ±8.35.
Subjects were samples by convenience sampling method, i.e.
the researchers were assisted by their acquaintances in order to
collect subjects according with the research’s criterions.
Research data was collected through the following question-
Description and distribution of sample’s characteristics.
50.4 62 Male
Gender 49.6 61 Female
26.8 33 Diagnosed
ADD 51.2 63 Not diagnose d
Not diagnose d, but
13.8 17 Secondary
Education 17.9 22 tertiary
48.8 60 BA
19.5 24 MA+
23.6 29 1
No. of children 22.7 28 2
36.6 45 3
17.1 21 4+
56.1 69 0
No. of diag nos ed
children 43.9 54 1+
46.9 53 Therapeutic
Professi on 53.1 60 Non-therapeutic
H. DORON, A. SHARBANI
• Demographic questionnaire—this questionnaire was as-
sembled for the purpose of the present research and in-
cluded the following details: age, gender, diagnosed as with
ADD or not, education, no. of children, no. of ADD diag-
nosed children, familial status and occupation. For the pur-
pose of statistical analysis, answers to the following va-
riables were united into wider categories:
• “Diagnosed as with ADD” and “not diagnosed but displays
symptoms”were unite d into a “yes” ADD category.
• Parental authority style questionnaire—in this research,
we used a questionnaire relying upon Buri’s (1991) PAQ
(parental Authority Questionnaire) developed in order to
measure the parenting styles according to Bau mrin d’s (1991)
conceptualization (permissive, authoritarian, authoritative).
Buri’s questionnaire consists of 30 items, 10 dedicated to
each parenting style (i.e. item 14 for permissive style: “I
usually do what my children want when making familial de-
cision”; item 4 for authoritative style: “I usually communi-
cate to my child the reason behind setting family policy”;
and item 12 for authoritarian style: “I think that smart par-
ents should teach their children in an early stage who is the
boss in the family”).
The questionnaire was translated to Hebrew and validated by
Sholet (1997), and adapted as a self-report measure to parents,
hereinafter—self evaluation of parenting style—by Zafrir
(2001). In Buri’s (1991) study internal consistency ranged be-
tween 0.74 to 0.87. In Sholet’s study, (1997) internal consis-
tency for the three style was: 0.79 for authoritative style, 0.85
for authoritarian style and 0.65 for permissive style. In Zafrir’s
(2001) stu dy , the internal consistency was: 0.78 for authoritative
style, 0.72 for authoritarian style and 0.83 for permissive sty le.
The parental authority scale was based on Likert scale, rang-
ing from 1 (completely disagree) to 5 (completely agree).
Reliabilities for the items are presented in Table 2.
The questionnaires were administered in some manners: 1)
distributed by email to parents, with and without ADD; 2) dis-
tributed through the support center for learning disabilities in
Tel Hai College; 3) published in an internet forum for adults
with ADD; 4) distributed through a group facilitator that in-
structs a support group for parents with ADD that takes place in
the regional council of northern Galilee in Israel.
Mostly reservations rose regarding the phrasing of two items,
i.e. item 8 (“I instruct and guide my child’s decisions and ac-
tions by persuasion and discipline”) and item 13 (“I seldom set
expectations and guidelines to my child regarding his beha-
vior”). These items were removed from t he statistical analy s is.
Our research’s goal was to examine the differences between
parents (mothers and fathers) with ADD and parents without
ADD, regarding their parental authority style. In addition, we
examined whether gender differences exist in parental authority
Our first hypothesis was that fathers with ADD would be
more permissive compared to fathers without ADD. In order to
test the hypothesis means and Sd’s were calculated for each
parental authority style (permissive, authoritative, authoritarian)
among both groups (ADD/no ADD). The hypothesis was tested
through t-test for independent samples (see Table 3).
Table 3 shows that no difference was found between fathers
with ADD and fathers without ADD in each of the parental
styles (p > 0.05), therefore, hypothesis 1 was refuted.
The second hypothesis was that mothers with ADD would be
more authoritarian in their parental style, compared to mothers
without ADD. In order to test this hypothesis means and Sd’s
were calculated for each parental authority style (permissive,
authoritative, authoritarian) among both groups (ADD/no ADD
mothers). The hypothesis was tested through t-test for indepen-
dent samples (see Table 4).
Table 4 shows that no difference was found between moth-
ers with ADD and mothers without ADD in each of the parental
styles (p > 0.05), therefore, hypothesis 2 was refuted.
Table 5 presents the relation between parents’ academic de-
gree and their being with our without ADD.
Table 5 shows that there is a significant difference between
Results of Reliability tests (of internal consistency) to the parental authority questionnaire, means, Sd’s and ranges for each factor.
Parental style items removed items Scale range Reliability (α) Mean Sd. actual range
Permissive 1, 6, 10, 13, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 28 13* 1 - 5 0.707 2.40 0.52 1.33 - 3.78
Authoritative 3, 27, 30, 4, 5, 11, 15, 20, 22, 8 8* 1 - 5 0.731 4.09 0.45 2.00 - 5.00
Authoritarian 2, 3, 7, 9, 12, 16, 18, 25, 26, 29 1 - 5 0.735 2.52 0.54 1.20 - 3.70
Note: *These items evoked many complaint s regardi ng their phrasing.
Means and Sd’s of parental authority styles among father with and without ADD, and t-tests for independent samples.
Parental style Fathers with ADD (n = 30) Fathers without AD D (n = 30)
M Sd M Sd t p
Permissive 2.39 0.54 2.47 0.52 −0.621 0.537
Authoritarian 4.09 0.39 4.07 0.57 0.154 0.878
Authoritative 2.51 0.54 2.53 0.55 −0.200 0.842
H. DORON, A. SHARBANI
Means and Sd’s of parental authority styles among mothers with and without ADD, and t-tests for independent samples.
Parental style mothers with ADD (n = 30) mothers without ADD (n = 31)
M Sd M Sd t p
Permissive 2.35 0.55 2.41 0.50 0.476− 0.636
Authoritarian 4.08 0.42 4.13 0.42 0.439− 0.662
Authoritative 2.50 0.57 2.53 0.54 0.204− 0.839
The relation between the parents’ academic degree and ADD.
secondary tertiary BA MA+ χ2 p
N % N % N % N %
With ADD 6 35.3 11 50 38 63.3 5 20.8 13.839** 0.003
Without ADD 11 64.7 11 50 22 36.7 19 79.2
Note: **p < 0.01.
the existence of ADD and the subject’s academic degree. It
shows that among 24 subjects with MA or higher education
solely 20.8% have ADD, compared to 79.2% that do not have
Next we aimed at examining whether there were differences
in the response pattern towards each parental style between
parents with and without ADD. In order to achieve this, we
conducted the following steps:
A factor analysis was conducted for each parental style in
order to locate the most significant questions it contains. It was
found that the most significant items for the permissive style
were items 1 and 28. For the authoritative style items were 5
and 11, and for the authoritarian style items 3 and 16 were
found most significant.
Later all ratings to these items were re-coded on a trans-
formed scale from 5 levels to 3 levels as follows: 1 - 2 in the
former scale were coded as 1 (negative ratings), 3 was coded as
3 (neutral rating) and 4 - 5 in the former scale were coded as 5
A χ2 analysis was conducted in order to examine the relation
between the respondent’s ADD and his ratings to the items that
were identified in the factor analysis (see above paragraph).
Table 6 shows that the most significant items for each pa-
rental style. It can be seen that parents with ADD were more
negative towards the permissive style, compared to parents
The present research examined the relation between the par-
ents’ ADD and their parental style. Our hypotheses were that
fathers with ADD would be more permissive in their parental
style, compared to fathers without ADD; while mothers with
ADD would show a more authoritarian style compared to mo-
thers without ADD. Both hypotheses were refuted (see Tables
3 and 4).
The Relation between Parental Style and the Parent’s
In our research we have found a trend that can be observed in
Table 6, which points to the fact that parents with ADD tend to
hold more negative positions towards permissiveness, com-
pared to parents without ADD. This finding is somewhat sup-
ported by Tables 3 and 4 that show a tendency among parents
with ADD towards a less pe rmissive stand, compared to parents
without ADD. This stands in contradiction with the trend pre-
sently characterizing western society, in which there is a col-
lapse of parental and instructional authority in the course of the
last decades, in relation to the traditional parental authority
(The admission of the permissive parenthood style stems mainly
from the fact that many attributes of the “old authority”, such as:
physical punishments, distancing, unconditional obedience etc.,
are no longer perceived as legitimate and as conventions as they
were before. Nowadays, a widespread notion is that authorita-
rian parents compelling limits upon their children, hinders their
growth and development (Omer, 2008).
Our finding can therefore be accounted for by the DSM-IV
(2000), in which people with Attention Deficit Disorder are
described as people easily distracted by external stimulus, as
having hardships in emotional regulation, internal restlessness
and apt to forgetting and disorganization. Following the will to
relieve the internal sense of disorganization among adults with
ADD in general, and among parents in particular, and due to
the effort to “survive” daily life, parents with ADD adapt a
coping style that allows them to preserve a sense of control,
order, stability and routine in their lives. Thus this rationale
penetrates also their parental style and their relations with their
The current research bears some shortcomings that should be
addressed, as follows:
1) A formal diagnosis for ADD was not required from the
participants in order to participate in the ADD group. There-
fore, this makes the generalization of the research’s findings on
parents that are diagnosed with ADD, harder.
2) The subjects’ age range was relatively wide (standard
deviation of 8.35 years). This may bring about potentially inter-
vening age-related variables, ones that were not taken into ac-
count in the research.
3) We used a convenient sample. This sampling method al-
lows for the possibility that the sample does not reliably rep-
resent the relevant population.
H. DORON, A. SHARBANI
Frequency of ratings to identified items in each parental style in both groups (ADD/no ADD).
ADD (n = 59) no ADD (n = 54)
Positive Negative Positive Negative
N % N % N % N % χ2 p
item 1 34 73.9 12 26.1 29 54.7 24 45.3 3.921* 0.048
items 11 3 5.4 53 94.6 2 3.6 53 96.4 0.191 0.662
item 3 44 84.6 8 15.4 36 70.6 15 29.4 2.921 0.087
Note: *p < 0.05.
4) We encountered some difficulties in administering ques-
tionnaires to fathers with ADD or with symptoms.
Recommendations for Further Research
In light of the present findings, we attribute great importance
to carrying out a research aimed at inquiring the relation be-
tween choosing a therapeutic/helping profession and parental
authority style among the general population, as well as among
parents with ADD.
Another innovative research direction should address the
population of parents with a therapeutic profession, and ex-
amine whether their parental style is a valid predictor for their
professional practice, the type of treatment they grant to their
patients, and their therapeutic approach. In addition, we rec-
ommend examining whether there are unique parental styles
characterizing parents with ADD or alternatively, as was done
in the current study, Baumrind’s typology suffices in characte-
rizing ADD parents’ patterns.
Since some participants in our study attested on themselves
as having symptoms of attention deficit disorder, but were not
medically diagnosed for ADD, future research should include
only diagnosed subjects and by this to resolve some of the cur-
rent research’s shortcomings and fortify the comprehension
regarding parents with ADD.
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