Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

College of Arts and Sciences



Major Advisor

Dr. Christy Wolfe


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between parenting styles and self-esteem across three generations: Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Generation Y. The researchers hypothesized that parenting styles from Baby Boomers to Generations X and Y have shifted from authoritarian to permissive, so a decrease in authoritarian parenting behaviors and an increase in permissive parenting styles were expected across the three generations. Further, we expected a decrease in self-esteem across the three generations, and speculate that this hypothesized change in parenting styles might relate to the decreases in the self-esteem of each generation. A total of 111 subjects, both males, and females participated and data were collected using an online survey that combined the Parental Authority Questionnaire (Buri, 1989) and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Rosenberg, 1965). The results of this study revealed that Baby Boomer’s parents were more authoritarian than Generation Y’s parents, and Generation Y’s parents were more permissive than BB parents. In addition, Generation Y had lower self-esteem than the Baby Boomers. Generation X revealed no discernible differences with parenting style or self-esteem. Therefore, in support of the hypotheses, there was evidence that parenting styles have gotten more permissive, and that self-esteem has gotten lower across the three generations. These findings lend support to the argument that increasing parental permissiveness may relate to decreasing self-esteem.