Gender Differences in the Relationships Among Parenting Styles and College Student Mental Health

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Objective: Levels of student depression may increase as stress increases; parenting styles may be one indirect source of stress. The authors examined the role of parenting style in relationship to student stress, anxiety, and depression, with focused attention on gender differences.

Participants: Participants were 290 undergraduate students (58% female, mean age = 19).

Methods: Cross-sectional design. Participants completed surveys containing measures of parenting styles, college stress, anxiety, and depression.

Results: Anxiety and stress acted as mediators between some maternal parenting styles and female student depression. No mediational relationships were found for male student ratings.

Conclusions: Daughters may be more susceptible to the influences of maternal parenting styles, which can either prepare or fail to prepare them for management and avoidance of stressors that are encountered during the college transition. College counseling centers and student affairs personnel may wish to focus attention on the instruction of self-management and problem-solving skills for incoming students.