Parent role characteristics: Parents' perceptions of their parent role

Rose Anne Turiano, Pace University


Research has widely examined the various beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions held by parents. However, few have formally examined parents' perceptions of their role or the characteristics that encompass this role, even though many have argued that the job of parent is most difficult. This study utilized the Parent Role Questionnaire (PRQ), developed by Mowder in 1990, to examine how parents perceive their parental role in terms of the various parent role characteristics set forth in the Parent Role Development Theory (PRDT). This study examined parents' perceptions of their roles, the parent role characteristics that are identified in the PRDT, as well as the construct of caring. Results reveal that most parents identify distinct parenting factors that generally represent the same role characteristics recognized in the PRDT. While undoubtedly important, the construct of ‘caring’ did not emerge as a significant, distinct characteristic in the parents' free response description of the parent role. The influence of gender and age on parent role perceptions is apparent from this study. Mothers describe bonding, responsivity, and sensitivity significantly more frequently than fathers. Significant differences were also indicated when parents' responses were examined with regard to the sex of their child(ren). Mothers cited bonding, responsivity, and general welfare and protection more frequently with their sons, than fathers with their sons. Moreover, mothers described sensitivity to be part of their parent role more frequently with their daughters than the fathers with their daughters. In addition, mothers more frequently cited the importance of responsivity and providing for the basic needs and safety of their sons, whereas fathers stressed these role characteristics more frequently for their daughters than their sons. Overall, mothers and fathers cited the characteristic of education more frequently for their same sex children, than for the opposite-sex child(ren). Mothers also were more sensitive than fathers were to their sons. Age group analysis reveals that education is cited more frequently for children over the age of 13 than under that age. In comparison, parents who had younger children tended to perceive sensitivity more frequently than those who had older children. The implications of this study for school psychologists and professionals working with children and families are many. Having an understanding of how parents perceive and express their role provides a framework to assess and target parenting issues, allowing psychologists to understand parenting demands and empowering them to act as effective consultants to parents. In addition, knowing parents' role perceptions may help in understanding parenting dynamics and assist parents in the performance of this important social role. In sum, this research may assist in more effective professional-parent communication and the development of useful family, school, and community interventions.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Turiano, Rose Anne, "Parent role characteristics: Parents' perceptions of their parent role" (2001). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3017943.



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