Combating Conflicting Messages of Values: A Closer Look at Parental Strategies


parenting, values, conflict


This study examined how parents respond when their children encounter values outside the home that conflict with family values. Forty‐eight middle‐class European American parents completed questionnaires consisting of 11 vignettes asking how they would respond to hypothetical situations where outside sources posed potential conflicts with parental values to their adolescent child (M age of child=13.33 years). We identified five strategies that parents might use: controlled cocooning, reasoned cocooning, compromise, pre‐arming, and deference. Parents in the study enlisted all five strategies, with reasoned cocooning and pre‐arming occurring most frequently. The self‐reported importance of values to parents was the most important predictor of which strategy parents used, with parents using more controlling strategies to defend values that were most important to them. Importance of values also mediated the relation between religion and the parent's self‐reported desire for the child's compliance on personal issues, and parental strategy choice. This study is among the first to examine alternative parental strategies for regulating children's values acquisition outside the home, and shows that the extent of parental control is related to the importance of specific values to the parent.

Original Publication Citation

Padilla-Walker, L. M., & Thompson, R. A. (2005). Combating conflicting messages of values: A closer look at parental strategies. Social Development, 14, 305-323.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


Social Development




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor