Parenting styles play a critical role in children’s development, especially for those in families with a depressed parent. To date, no study has explored whether youth perceptions of parenting style are heterogeneous in families with a depressed parent or whether heterogeneous parenting styles are associated with children’s internalizing symptoms.
Participants were children aged 8–16 years who had a parent with major depressive disorder; they were enrolled through their parents, who were outpatients at two hospitals in Ningxia. Parenting styles were measured using the Parental Bonding Instrument. Youth depression and anxiety were measured using the Depression Self-Rating Scale for Children and the Screen for Child Anxiety-Related Emotional Disorders, respectively. We applied latent profile analysis to identify the subtypes of parenting styles with similar patterns. Differences between subtypes in relation to demographic variables and parenting style scores were calculated using one-way ANOVAs, Wilcoxon rank sum tests, and chi-squared tests. Bivariate logistic analyses were conducted to examine the associations between parental bonding subtypes and children’s depression and anxiety.
Four parenting styles were identified through latent profile analysis: care-autonomy, overprotection-indifference, indifference, and undifferentiated parenting. Youth with care-autonomy parents had a lower risk of depression (OR: 0.16; 95% CI: 0.06–0.41) and anxiety (OR: 0.22; 95% CI: 0.10–0.48), while indifference parenting increased children’s risk of depression (OR: 5.29; 95% CI: 1.30–21.54) more than undifferentiated parenting.
Children with a depressed parent had heterogeneous perceptions of parenting styles. Mothers’ and fathers’ parenting styles were largely congruent. Care-autonomy parenting (high care and high autonomy) may decrease children’s risk of depression, whereas indifference parenting (low care and autonomy) may increase their risk of depression.