Parenting Style and the Development of Moral Reasoning

Journal of Moral Education 28 (3):359-374 (1999)
This paper addresses the polarisation among theoretical perspectives in moral psychology regarding the relative significance of parents and peers in children's moral development and, in particular, the short shrift given the family context by cognitive-developmental theory. We contend that parents do play a significant role in this area of their children's development. Research findings from two studies are presented which indicate that parents' interaction styles, ego functioning and level of moral reasoning used in discussion are predictive of children's subsequent moral reasoning development. The findings also illustrate the role of affective factors, in contrast to the contemporary emphasis on moral rationality, and the relevance of real-life dilemmas, in contrast to the paradigmatic reliance on hypothetical dilemmas. Implications of these findings for our understanding of the role of parenting style in children's moral development and for further research are discussed
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