Parenting Children of Different Ages: Comparing Professional Practitioners' Perceptions with those by Late Adolescents

Taoxin Zeng, Pace University


The importance of parenting behaviors in children's social and emotional development has been well supported by studies, and parenting behaviors change accordingly to accommodate children's different needs at different stages of life. Parents face parenting challenges and conflicts throughout children's developmental stages, but particularly with late adolescents who go through a phase of life filled with significant changes. For example, many late adolescents move away from home for college. But regardless of college, late adolescents increasingly distance themselves from their families as they continue to establish relationships with their peers. Supportive, nurturing, and monitoring parenting leads to positive developmental outcomes in adolescents. In late adolescence, college students and others at that age range often experience significant environmental changes and social challenges, and their transitions can be facilitated by a positive relationship with their parents. The current study examined college students' parenting expectations and to what extent these expectations may be similar to or differ from professional practitioners. Another focus of this study was to explore late adolescents' perceptions of parenting that is most desirable for each developmental stage in life. The results of this study indicate that, despite some differences, late adolescents' perceptions about parenting are generally similar to those of professional practitioners. Late adolescents, similar to professional practitioners, tend to rate the importance of six positive characteristics of the parent role differently based on children's developmental stages. The importance of three of the seven parenting characteristics (i.e., discipline, education, general welfare and protection) generally increases until children are approximately 6-12 years of age. Then, these three parenting characteristics generally decline in importance. Also, even though there are some declines in importance of the six positive parenting characteristics, three characteristics (i.e. bonding, responsivity, sensitivity) remain relatively high in importance during childhood. Thus, late adolescent respondents seem to have developed a solid appreciation for positive parenting, as well as a general understanding of what parenting behaviors are desirable. In contrast to professional practitioners, late adolescents tend to perceive negative parenting behaviors as slightly more, but not significantly important. Late adolescent respondents rate the importance of discipline, education, general welfare and protection, and negativity in parenting late adolescent or adult age levels more highly than professional practitioners. Therefore, late adolescents apparently tend to recognize the beneficial effects of parenting involvement for their own age group and favor engagement from their parents, seemingly more than professional practitioners. Thus, late adolescent respondents, at least those in this study, recognize the importance of parents' involvement and support while they are in college transitioning into adulthood.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Zeng, Taoxin, "Parenting Children of Different Ages: Comparing Professional Practitioners' Perceptions with those by Late Adolescents" (2015). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3664486.



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