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Parental Behavior and Adolescent Self-Esteem

Viktor Gecas and Michael L. Schwalbe
Journal of Marriage and Family
Vol. 48, No. 1 (Feb., 1986), pp. 37-46
DOI: 10.2307/352226
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/352226
Page Count: 10
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Abstract

In this study we examine the relationship between parental behavior as reported by parents, children's perceptions of parental behavior, and the effects of each on various aspects of children's self-evaluations—specifically, self-worth, self-efficacy, and general self-esteem. The study is based on a sample of 128 families, each consisting of a mother, a father, and a child in late adolescence (17 to 19 years of age). We found little correspondence between parents' reports of their behavior (on measures of control/autonomy, support, and participation) and children's perceptions of this behavior. Furthermore, children's self-evaluations were much more strongly related to their perceptions of parental behavior than to parents' self-reported behavior. Boys' self-esteem was found to be more sensitive to the control/autonomy aspect of parental behavior; girls' self-esteem was more strongly affected by parental support and participation. In general, perceptions of paternal behavior were somewhat more consequential for adolescent self-esteem than were perceptions of maternal behavior, and surprisingly, these parent-child interaction variables were found to be more strongly related to boys' self-esteem than to girls' self-esteem. These findings tend to support the symbolic interactionist perspective on the development of self-concept.

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