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

Ekaterina Botchkovar, Northeastern University
Ineke Haen Marshall, Northeastern University
Michael Rocque, Bates College
Chad Posick, Georgia Southern University



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.


OLS regression is used to evaluate these causal links.


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.


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.