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Parenting Style Trumps Work Role in Life Satisfaction of Midlife Women

Parenting style determined mothers' midlife life satisfaction while mothers' work roles did not, and authoritative parenting styles were directly linked to midlife happiness.

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  • N: 432
  • Subject Ages: Mean maternal age of 49.6 years
  • Location: Not available
  • SES: Not available
  • Eligibility: Mothers of undergraduate students from an upper Midwest college
  • Additional: 96% Caucasian


  1. Maternal work patterns would be significantly related to midlife life satisfaction.
  2. Adopting an authoritative parenting style would be beneficial for mothers in terms of their self-reported life satisfaction.

Variables Measured, Instruments Used

  • Parenting style - the Parental Authority Questionnaire (Buri, 1991) revised
  • Satisfaction with life - the Satisfaction with Life Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larson & Griffin, 1985)
  • Work role and stress - author questionnaire




  1. Work role was found to be non-significant in relation to mothers' midlife satisfaction, whereas an authoritative parenting style was significantly correlated to this same variable.
  2. Employed mothers did report being more stressed, especially when their children were younger, but maternal work role was not predictive of these women’s life satisfaction in midlife.


  • Retrospective: Asking mothers to recall retrospectively their parenting styles is a potential limitation in this study. Certainly social desirability effects or other biases in memory could come into play.
  • Non-random sample: Sample was overwhelmingly Caucasian and Christian, so generalizations must be made with caution.
  • Results, while significant, accounted for a small amount of variance and thus should not be over-interpreted.