Are there really Democrat v. Republican parenting styles?

With the Republican and Democratic conventions upon us, and the U.S. presidential campaign in full swing, dug into the archives for this amazing visualization of “right” and “left” that British data journalist David McCandless and information artist Stefanie Posavec put together in 2009 for his book The Visual Miscellaneum. The “Right” and “Left” refer to U.S., British and French politics, as you can see in the top strip of “Parties”.   

In 2009, McCandless made this observation in his explanation of the visual:

Researching this showed me that, despite my inevitable journalistic lean to the ‘left’, I am actually a bit more ‘right’ than I suspected.

The pieces that intrigued me most are the parenting styles, enlarged here.

Instilling fear in a child as a method of parenting, if interpreted negatively by a child, is considered one aspect of emotional abuse, which is one of the more damaging types of child maltreatment, according to the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study). According to marriage and family therapist Felice Block on “Children who experience emotional abuse feel that they are responsible for the behavior of their parents and that if only they were more polite, better students or better children, than their parents would be more loving.”

But is there really a difference between left and right parenting styles? Is fear as an element of parenting exclusive to a particular political point of view?

That hasn’t been my experience. I’ve met quite a few people grew up in households filled with chronic intimidation and fear, and whose parents were registered Democrats.


  1. Douglas Fry and Riane Eisler’s book “Nurturing our humanity: how domination and partnership shape our brains, lives, and future” provides a broader lens through which to see these differences, the lens of “domination” vs. “partnership”. I highly recommend their work.


  2. I think it’s more “stereotypical right” vs. “stereotypical left” than actual voting styles. I think there’s a lot more diversity in terms of who votes what than we’re encouraged to see — that’s certainly true in my family.

    Having said that – and although I think labeling the chart right-vs.-left feeds into that – I do think that the two parenting belief systems exist. We are squarely blue, and I had to laugh at the “acceptable professions” – my red-parenting Dad is military, my blue-parenting husband is a science teacher, and I am in the media. Scarily accurate!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s