The Importance of Parenting in the Development of Self-Control in Boys and Girls: Results from a Multinational Study of Youth

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Journal of Criminal Justice

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Department or Program


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Purpose: Using self-report data from a cross-national study of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders (N. =. 67, 883) in 30 countries, this study assesses the cultural generality of self-control theory and its predictions linking parenting to self-control. We focus on the relationship between gender and self-control, assess the contribution of various parenting strategies to the development of self-control in males and females, and gauge the importance of parenting as an explanation for the established gender gap in self-control. Methods: OLS regression is used to evaluate these causal links. Findings: Supporting self-control theory, across all country clusters, males demonstrate lower levels of self-control than females. Furthermore, parenting strategies have a modest effect on self-control in both male and female groups in all cultural contexts. However, finding of the statistically significant differences in the parenting of sons and daughters is limited to post-Socialist, Mediterranean, and Western countries, and, in these regions, the contribution of gendered parenting to the gender gap in self-control is minimal. Conclusions: These results suggest that the development of self-control is a complex process likely affected by multiple factors, some of which may be culture-specific.