Late adolescents' and young adults' perceptions of the parent role

Mary Ellen Clifford, Pace University


Parenthood is arguably the most important social role an individual may acquire, yet one that has no associated structured or mandated training and education. Often psychologists and other child oriented professionals provide consultation to foster and improve parent-child relationships. Yet little empirical research has been conducted in this area to define specifically what a parent conceptualizes his or her role to be. The Parent Role Development Theory (PRDT) is a theoretical guide which can be used to understand an individual's perception of the parent role, how those perceptions develop over time, and how they change and shift in response to the different child development stages from birth to adulthood. Based on this theory, the Parent Role Questionnaire (PRQ) was created to investigate parent role cognitive schemata. The college-age population, specifically late adolescents and young adults (e.g., ages 18–29), is a group which has not been examined utilizing the PRQ. A better understanding of late adolescents' and young adults' perceptions of the parent role would increase psychologists' and other child professionals' appreciation of those perspectives and provide a basis for working with individuals regarding parenting. In this study, questionnaire data was collected from college students at a private, urban university. The PRQ was administered to 127 participants to sample their parenting perceptions. Qualitative and quantitative analyses were conducted to determine late adolescents' and young adults' conceptualization of the parent role. The data suggest that these respondents define a parent role which mirror characteristics defined by the PRDT. Like prior research, the results reveal developmental trends involving parent role characteristic importance. Results also indicate that subjects' age, sex, ethnicity and parental status influence some aspects of parent role perceptions. Limitations of the study, as well as implications for professionals and future research, are discussed.

Subject Area

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

Recommended Citation

Clifford, Mary Ellen, "Late adolescents' and young adults' perceptions of the parent role" (2004). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3126493.



Remote User: Click Here to Login (must have Pace University remote login ID and password. Once logged in, click on the View More link above)