The Impact Of Parental Control, Criminal And Marital Conflict On Adolescents’ Self-Regulation And Adjustment

Project and Seminar Material for Criminology And Security Studies

The Impact Of Parental Control, Criminal And Marital Conflict On Adolescents’ Self-Regulation And Adjustment


Abstract


The current study aims to increase understanding of influences on and consequences of self-regulation in adolescence. The mechanism underlying the potential effects of specific parental behaviors and interparental conflict on self-regulation and their unique effects on adjustment have been largely unexamined. It was hypothesized that parental psychological and behavioral control and interparental conflict would be indirectly associated with adolescent outcomes via self-regulation abilities. Besides, differential impacts of parental controlling behaviors on self-regulation were also explored. The study involved a sample of 300 students of selected secondary schools and their mothers. Students completed self-report questionnaires on parental control behaviors, self-regulation abilities, and academic self-concept. Furthermore, mothers completed questionnaires including parental control, interparental conflict, self-regulation abilities of adolescents, and adolescent adjustment (i.e., hyperactivation/inattention, emotional, and prosocial behaviors).

This study extends previous works and theories in several important ways. Initially, independent contributions of parental and marital variables on capacity of adolescents’ self-regulation were examined. Secondly, the question of how theoretically and culturally important aspects of parental control are linked to adolescent self-regulation were explored. Moreover, the systematical analysis exploring interactions between the maternal/paternal psychological and behavioral control may provide insight into the processes associated with both parental control and self-regulation.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Primary concern of parents is to promote their children’s well-being and to prevent negative outcomes in their developmental trajectory. However, past studies have documented that the ability to regulate, alter or control one’s own behavior or emotion is the main protective factor that prevents children from risky behaviors or maladaptive outcomes (Sethi, Mischel, Aber, Shoda, and Rodriguez, 2000; Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone, 2004). High levels of self-regulation ability has also been linked to social and cognitive competence (Barkley, 2004), while low levels of self-regulation have been found to be associated with problem behaviors in childhood and adolescence (Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone, 2004). However, the majority of previous work regarding the association between self-regulation and psychological adjustment has focused primarily on adolescents (Tangney, Baumeister, & Boone, 2004; Moilanen, 2007). In contrast, research regarding the effects of contextual and familial effects (e.g., parenting) on self-regulation has mainly conducted on children (Finkenauer, Engels, & Baumeister, 2005; Grolnick, & Ryan, 1989). For instance, there is not adequate research on how parenting during adolescence is associated with self-regulation. Besides parenting behaviors, the impact of the family context variables on the self-regulation ability of adolescents has also not been examined systematically in previous studies. Therefore, this study aims to examine the interplay among specific parenting behaviors, marital conflict as an indicator of family context and adjustment among adolescents using a conceptual model. Detailed rationale of the study and related literature review will be presented in the following sections.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The current study aims to examine a proposed mediational model in which self-regulation abilities of adolescents mediate the relationship between family context variables and adolescent outcomes.

Parenting is conceptualized as the specific parenting behaviors, including parental control behaviors. It is also aimed to examine the effects of different dimensions of parental control on adolescent self-regulation. Previous research indicated that both parenting and self-regulation have a unique (independent) impact on adjustment. These studies, however, have not investigated the unique contribution of specific dimensions of parental control on self-regulation and adjustment behaviors. Specifically, it is expected that parental psychological control would have a negative effect on adolescent adjustment especially by increasing emotional and conduct problems, hyperactivity, peer problems and by decreasing prosocial behaviors and academic self-concept. Based on the past literature and culture-specific expectations, it is also assumed that parental control and adjustment may have a curvilinear association. Whereas low and high levels of parental control would be associate with worst adjustment, moderate level of control might be related with the optimum level of adolescent functioning as well as positive academic self-concept. In the current study, multiple sources of informants, including mothers and adolescents will be used to test these assumed links. Relevant literature on self-regulation and parenting variables will be summarized below.


1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study

The aim of this work is to investigate the impact of parental control, criminal and marital conflict on adolescents’ self-regulation and adjustment.

The specific objectives are;

  1. To determine if boys report higher perceived guilt induction/erratic emotional behaviors.
  2. To find out if mother’s levels of education have significant effects on the guilt induction/erratic
  3. To determine if there is a significant age difference on perceived guilt induction/erratic emotional behaviors

1.4 Research Questions:

  1. Do boys report higher perceived guilt induction/erratic emotional behaviors?
  2. Do mother’s levels of education have significant effects on the guilt induction/erratic emotional behaviors?
  3. Is there a significant age difference on perceived guilt induction/erratic emotional behaviors?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The findings of this study are consistent with the beliefs that parental behaviors characterized by the dimensions of control, structure and limit setting results in adolescents who tend to be more competent in their ability to regulate their behavior, attention, and emotions. This implies that adolescents benefit from an environment that reflects reasonable control, including monitoring, knowledge about whereabouts. Parents should understand that their children choices within a limited and “safe context” is not equal to permissive parenting. In fact, the findings of the current study suggest that under controlling parents, characterized by a lack of structure and control and conditional regards (i.e., love withdrawal/irrespective), is associated with weaknesses in a child’s ability to regulate their behaviors, attention, and emotions. Overall, it appears that extremes of control and structure (psychological control or lack of behavioral control) are not necessarily desirable and that the most effective parenting includes a compromise between control and permissiveness with a warm and unconflictual family environment.


1.6 Limitations of the Study

Although the current study has contributed to the current literature it is not without its limitations that should be considered when interpreting the presented findings and in planning for future research. First, the sample characteristics of the current study may have affected the results in unknown ways: participants were volunteers and were not randomly selected, and thus were not representative of all adolescents in this age group.

Second, data were collected at only one time point, thus the cross-sectional nature of this study prevents any firm directional or causal interpretations. Although the current results were interpreted from the perspective that parental control and interparental conflict influence both adolescent self-regulation and adjustment.

Third, it is likely that, given the complex nature of parent-child relationships that there are many factors that play a mediating or moderating role in the relationship between parental control, interparental conflict and numerous adolescent outcomes. For example, the interparental conflict can moderate the relationships between parental control and adolescent outcomes.


1.7 Definition of Terms

Self Regulation:

Self-regulation is the controlling of a process or activity by the people or organizations that are involved in it rather than by an outside organization.

Adolescents:

A young person who is developing into an adult, one who is in the state of adolescence, or transitional phase of growth and development between childhood and adulthood. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines an adolescent as any person between ages 10 and 19. This age range falls within WHO’s definition of young people, which refers to individuals between ages 10 and 24


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary

The primary goal of the current study was to better understand the antecedents and consequences of self-regulation in adolescence. Based on the previous theoretical and empirical work on parenting effects (Baumrind, 1991a; Barber, 1996), the adolescents’ self-regulation and adjustment, two main research questions about parental control, interparental conflict, self-regulation, and adjustment were addressed. First, it was tested that whether self-regulation abilities of adolescents mediate the relationship between parental control, interparental control, and adolescent adjustment. Second, the nature of the impact of the parental control on adolescents’ self-regulation and adjustment was examined. The findings will be discussed considering each research questions will be addressed separately. After discussing main findings, conclusion and recommendations will be discussed.


5.2 Conclusions and Recommendations

The results of Analysis of Variances (ANOVA) yielded significant gender differences on a number of the major study variables. First, boys perceived more psychological control than female adolescents but, this finding is only valid for perceived control from father, not from mother. Second, mothers of female adolescents reported higher levels of parental knowledge and monitoring than mothers of boys. Moreover, they also reported less love withdrawal/irrespective. Third, as compared to mothers of boys, girls’ mothers reported more successful self-regulation and inhibition/adapting/activation behaviors for their children.

Although there was relatively small variance in age of the participants, there were significant age differences in adolescents’ perceived parental control, self- regulation and adjustment. With age, adolescents develop a stronger sense of self that is separate from their parents and greater sensitivity to violations of their psychological autonomy. This finding is consistent with Barber’s (1996) finding on a sample of 5th, 8th, and 10th graders which found that the effects of mothers’ psychological control on adolescents’ outcomes were stronger for older than for younger adolescents.

It was found that only perceived paternal guilt induction/erratic emotional behaviors and mother reported love withdrawal/irrespective behaviors were higher for older adolescents. These findings may also be explained with different parental roles played by mothers and fathers. Past research indicated that mothers are more likely to be involved in caregiving, and fathers are more likely to engage in leisure activities with their children (Collins, 1992). Conceivably, younger adolescents need and rely on mothers’ care more than older adolescents. Older adolescents, probably do not need as much care from mothers as younger adolescents, and might have more time to spend with fathers, and thus, the influence of fathers’ psychological control (perceived guilt induction/erratic emotional behaviors from father for this study) is more salient for them. Additionally, because the transition from early to mid-adolescence creates new developmental needs for a sense of autonomy and self-identity, it is plausible to expect that adolescent perceive higher parental psychological control as they grow even though parent do not change the level of their controlling behaviors.

This study extends previous works and theories in several important ways. Initially, independent contributions of parental and marital variables on capacity of adolescents’ self-regulation were examined. Secondly, the question of how theoretically and culturally important aspects of parental control are linked to adolescent self-regulation were explored. Moreover, the systematical analysis exploring interactions between the maternal/paternal psychological and behavioral control may provide insight into the processes associated with both parental control and self-regulation.


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