Julie A. Patock-Peckham of Baylor University and colleagues studied 581 college students from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and San Diego State University. Participating students completed a questionnaire that addressed the parenting styles of both their mothers and fathers, and perceptions of mothers' and fathers' knowledge of their friendships and social plans.
Parents were classified as authoritarian, an emphasis on rules and obedience and a lack of discussion, authoritative with clear rules and instructions but with an atmosphere of open discussion, or permissive, a parent behaving more like a friend than a parent.
The study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, found authoritative parents were most likely to do a better job of knowing about their child's social life and plans, and permissive parents were least likely to effectively monitor their children, but authoritarian parents seemed to have neither an advantage nor a disadvantage in terms of monitoring.
"Our study shows that having strict house rules does not mean that emerging adults feel that parents really know about their social life or plans," Patock-Peckham says in a statement.
When the researchers analyzed the data on gender and monitoring style, a distinct pattern emerged -- more parental monitoring by the opposite-gender parent can indirectly reduce alcohol-related problems by buffering impulsiveness, Patock-Peckham says.