Educators' perceptions of parental roles

Betsy D Lawrence, Pace University


There is a growing need to identify ways to foster collaboration and to minimize conflict between educators and parents. Since conflict may arise from differences in the expectation of educators and parents concerning parental roles, this project investigates the perception of educators and parents regarding parental roles. This descriptive study examines the responses of 67 male and female educators to the Parent Role Questionnaire (PRQ), an instrument which considers the parent role in terms of six characteristics (i.e., bonding, discipline, education, general welfare and protection, responsivity, and sensitivity). These responses are contrasted to the responses of 1109 parents from the same school system in New Hampshire. The questions investigated are: What are the views of educators concerning parental roles? Do the views of educators differ from parents? Also, do educators who are parents differ from educators who are not parents in terms of parenting perspectives? Do educators vary at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels regarding parenting? Finally, are there differences that stem from the gender of the educators? The results of a multivariate analysis of the data indicate that significant differences between the perceptions of parents and educators occur in all six characteristics, and that these differences are found to exist primarily in the early and later years of the child's life span. Apparently, educators view education as more important than parents, particularly in the years that the educator has the child in school (K-12). That is, educators tend to focus narrowly on one facet (educating, guiding, training) of the parenting role to the relative exclusion of other variables, whereas parents view the parenting role as one which requires the balancing of many complex variables. Findings further suggest that educators as a whole are unable to consider parents in their complex role beyond the year that they have the child in school, and it is possible that this time frame limits their ability to understand and to collaborate effectively with parents. Significant sex differences in terms of educators' parenting perspective were found. Male educators more than female educators believe that parents need to discipline their children throughout the life span. Of interest is that male educators more than female educators view the protective role as extending into the later years (college and adulthood). In general, educators from all school levels (elementary, junior high, and high school) have similar views concerning the parenting role, but some significant differences emerge indicating that elementary educators recognize that the parenting role includes more than meeting the educational needs of children. Apparently, this understanding stems from the need of elementary educators to work closely with the parents of young, dependent children. The study also indicates that educators who are not parents value discipline and education more highly than educators who are parents, and it is possible that the lack of experience with the parenting roles makes educators who are not parents less able to appreciate the complexities of the parenting role. Implications exist for the future training of educators, psychologists and child care workers. And, additional research with educators of different age groups is indicated as well.

Subject Area

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

Recommended Citation

Lawrence, Betsy D, "Educators' perceptions of parental roles" (1995). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI9525245.



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