In the movie American Beauty (1999), identify and explain the types of parenting styles demonstrated. Discuss how these parenting styles have affected the children's emotions as well as how the children's behavior in turn affects the parents.

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The famous film American Beauty includes two parenting couples. Lester and Carolyn Burnham have a teenage daughter named Jane. Colonel Frank Fitts and his wife Barbara have a teenage son named Ricky.

The Burnhams are neglectful parents. They are completely self-centered, and though they make a show of arguing about who is the better parent and vie for Jane's attention, they are both caught up in their own angst and depression due to their unsatisfactory careers. Lester hates his job, eventually quits, develops a crush on one of Jane's underage friends named Angela, and begins to run and work out to try to impress Angela. Carolyn experiences extreme frustration trying to sell real estate and starts an affair with a more successful real estate agent. Jane, who witnesses their selfishness and hypocrisy, despises them both. She initiates a relationship with her neighbor Ricky to assuage her loneliness. When Lester finds out that Jane is in love with Ricky, he is happy for her.

Colonel Frank Fitts is a domineering parent. His wife, Barbara, has withdrawn into a near catatonic state. Fitts treats his son, Ricky, as if he were a Marine Corps recruit, demanding obedience and that Ricky call him "sir." When Ricky steps out of line, Fitts beats him. Fitts's overriding concern is that his son should behave properly, according to the norms of society, and his greatest fear is that his son should turn out to be gay. When Rickie begins spending time with Lester, Colonel Fitts interprets their relationship to be a romantic one, disowns him, and tells him to get out of the house. In reaction to Fitts's oppressive behavior, Rickie has created a secret life of his own as a drug dealer and filmmaker.

By the end of the movie, the neglectful self-absorption of the Burnhams as well as the violence and strictness of Colonel Fitts cause Rickie and Jane to try to run away together to build a life for themselves in another city.

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