Perceptions of Parenting: A Comparison of Parents' and Children's Perceptions of the Importance of Parenting Characteristics

Keara E Conway, Pace University

Abstract

Parents' important and sustaining impact on children's development has been long recognized and well-established. In fact, there is a large body of literature indicating parents' influence on their children's social, emotional, and academic functioning. Due to the importance of the parental role, parenting literature includes a wide variety of subtopics, including research that examines parents' influence on children, children's perception of their parents' parenting, and discrepancies between parents' and children's perceptions of parenting behaviors. Despite the wide scope of research aimed at better understanding parenting, there is surprisingly little research that surveys children's and parents' ideas about important parenting behaviors. The current study aims to contribute to the parenting literature by exploring and comparing parents' and children's perceptions of the importance of parenting characteristics. For the purpose of this study, the children represent two different age groups, fifth graders and ninth graders. This study also investigates whether individuals' perceptions of the importance of parenting characteristics differs across demographic characteristics, and whether there is a difference in the agreement level between older children's perceptions and parents' perceptions in comparison to younger children's perceptions and parents' perceptions. ^ The current study uses parent development theory (PDT) as a framework for studying parenting characteristics. PDT outlines six characteristics associated with the parent role and positive parenting (i.e., bonding, discipline, education, general welfare and protection, responsivity, sensitivity). Although all of these characteristics are an important part of the parent role, the importance of each varies according to the changing developmental needs of children. PDT also outlines a seventh characteristic, negativity, to represent negative parenting behaviors. The Parenting Behavior Importance Questionnaire-Revised (PBIQ-R) was the instrument used to capture parents' perceptions of the importance of the parenting characteristics. A modified version of the PBIQ-R was used to assess children's perceptions of the importance of parenting characteristics. This study's participants includes parents and children from an upper-middle to upper class suburban community in New York State. ^ In general, the results showed generally high agreement between parents and children regarding their perceptions of the importance of parenting characteristics. However, there were some significant differences between parents' and children's importance ratings. Overall, parents rated the parenting characteristics of bonding, discipline, and education as more important than did children. Parents also rated negative parenting behaviors as less important than did children. Comparisons between the importance ratings of fifth grade students and ninth grade students indicated that they only differed in their ratings of bonding, with fifth graders rating it as higher in importance. Interestingly, there were no differences between the importance ratings of parents of fifth graders and parents of ninth graders. When gender was considered across all participants, female participants rated bonding, discipline, education, responsivity, positive parenting, and overall parenting significantly higher than did male participants. Other gender differences based on grade of child are also discussed. Results also indicated that there is no significant difference between the agreement level of older children's and parents' perceptions compared to younger children's and parents' perceptions of the importance of parenting characteristics. A discussion of these results, as well as the limitations associated with this study and directions for future research are presented. One of the most important implications of this study is that its results can be used to open communication between parents and children regarding parenting and expectations for parents' parenting behaviors. Other implications for the fields of school and clinical psychology are also discussed. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Social|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies

Recommended Citation

Keara E Conway, "Perceptions of Parenting: A Comparison of Parents' and Children's Perceptions of the Importance of Parenting Characteristics" (January 1, 2011). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI3475817.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI3475817

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