Parent Relationships and Child Outcomes

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It seems that so many individuals are unsatisfied with their relationship with their parents. During adolescence I heard from many of my friends the frustrations they were feeling towards their parents. Sometimes they felt annoyed, other times they felt over-controlled by them. I've also talked to older individuals who still have problems with their parents. They say that they just don't get along anymore, or they reflect on resentment that they felt towards them in their younger years. What is it that makes parent-child relationships so difficult? I mean, they are our own flesh and blood.


I have always had a hard time relating to people when they talk about their issues with their parents. To me, my family is the most important part of my life, and therefore I do everything I can to cherish that relationship. Maybe I see the parent child relationship a little bit differently, or maybe my parents really aren't difficult to get along with, it's hard to say. Regardless, I have always tried to recognize that they are real people too, and I truly do appreciate all the time and money they've spent on me. I also understand that a relationship is a two way street.


Regardless, it has been shown that the relationship we have with our parents can affect the life an personality of their children. First off, several studies have been conducted on parenting styles. The most popular being the model created by Diana Baumrind. She created four different parenting styles depending on the amount of demanding-ness and responsiveness they expressed. Authoritative parenting style, which was high in both of those domains, has been shown to have the best outcome in children.


Parent relationships also affect their children in other ways. It has been shown that children whose parents don't supervise them as much engage in greater adolescence risk taking. This seems to be especially true in regards to adolescence alcohol use. The reverse relationship is also true, as adolescent alcohol use has actually been shown to predict less effective parenting supervision. This could be because children who choose to engage in that sort of behavior resist parenting supervision, or it could be because the children use alcohol because their parents didn't supervise them in the first place. (Clark, 2008).


This phenomenon stems further than just alcohol use though. Parenting style and the relationship with ones parents can affect psychological aspects of an individuals life as well. Those with authoritarian parents tend to be less confident and show sign of depression. The indulgent parenting style tends to create individuals who are under appreciative and self-entitled. (Baumrind, 1991). To make things more confusing, the structure of one's family can actually predict adolescence outcomes as well. It has been shown that in father only households, adolescence are most likely to engage in alcohol use. (Hoffman & Johnson, 1998).


So, what can be done about all this? I believe that it is important to educate parents about the importance of a specific parenting style. Since many adults don't go out of their way to seek this knowledge, it should be presented to them when they are receiving their education. Children play a part in this too, which is why they should be taught effective communication skills during their adolescence. I believe a more modern approach should be taken in our school systems. Our youth spends so much of their time in school, which means there is so much opportunity for them to gain valuable life information.


References:


Baumrind, D. (1991). The influence of parenting style on adolescent competence and substance use. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 11(1), 56-95. Retrieved from www.sagepub.org

Clark, D. (2008). Parental supervision and alcohol use in adolescence: developmentally specific interactions. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 29(4), 285-292. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18562983

Hoffmann, J., & Johnson, R. (1998). A national portrait of family structure and adolescent drug use. Journal of Marriage and Family, 60(3), 633-645.


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2 Comments

There is lots of educational resources out there for parents who want to improve their parenting skills or grow their relationship with their child. They can go to http://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/promoting/parent_ed_resources.cfm to read more. In some communities there are social workers who will actually come to your home, evaluate your family situation and work one on one with you to provide better for your children and help your family build stronger bonds.

I am really close with my family as well including my three children. They know that they can come to me for anything. I would love to be involved in some sort of social work that helps parents be better parents and provide them with resources that they did not know their community had. The first step for any parent though is to want to be a better parent. Some honestly just do not care. Very sad for their children!

I couldn't agree more that our educational systems need revamped and modernized. While some parents either do not have the proper skills, knowledge base or level of caring appropriate for good parenting ability, there is no reason why the shortcomings of one area cannot be overcome in the other. In fact, given our difficult economic times, the high stress, and lack of sufficient parental caregiving time that results from increased employment requirements, children are not likely to benefit as much from parental socialization as they may have in the past.
Asp & Garbarino (1988)suggest that the forming of friendships, leadership skills, positive self-concept, cooperation and conflict resolution are all byproducts of attending school. Furthermore, children also gain exposure to the norms and values of their community. While some might argue that nonetheless, it is not up to teachers or the school system to raise children and do the work expected of parents, our times have changed and as a result, our schools and general consciousness must change and adapt as well. Is it not better to use the resources already in place to help create an individual who becomes a social asset in the community? Or, should we stubbornly hold on to our antiquated sense of how things should be, and by doing so create a social liability?

References
Asp, E., & Garbarino, J. (1988). Integrative processes at school and in the community. In T.D. Yawkey & J.E. Johnson (Eds.), Integrative processes and socialization: Early to middle childhood (pp. 167-183). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

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