Issues and challenges in studying parental control: Toward a new conceptualization

Wendy S. Grolnick, Eva M. Pomerantz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although investigators have long considered parents' exertion of control over children as a central part of the socialization process, the study of control has been marked by conceptual and empirical confusion. This article outlines some of the history of the construct of control in the context of parenting, delineating the development of the contemporary approach that distinguishes among multiple forms of control. It proposes a refinement of this approach such that only parenting characterized by pressure, intrusion, and domination should be considered control, whereas parenting frequently labeled control but characterized mainly by guidance should be considered structure. This article highlights the benefits of distinguishing between these two dimensions of parenting rather than multiple forms of control.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-170
Number of pages6
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2009


  • Control
  • Parenting
  • Structure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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