When Mothers and Fathers Are Seen as Disproportionately Valuing Achievements: Implications for Adjustment Among Upper Middle Class Youth

Lucia Ciciolla, Alexandria S. Curlee, Jason Karageorge, Suniya Luthar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

High achievement expectations and academic pressure from parents have been implicated in rising levels of stress and reduced well-being among adolescents. In this study of affluent, middle school youth, we examined how perceptions of parents’ emphases on achievement (relative to prosocial behavior) influenced youth’s psychological adjustment and school performance, and examined perceived parental criticism as a possible moderator of this association. The data were collected from 506 (50 % female) middle school students from a predominately white, upper middle class community. Students reported their perceptions of parents’ values by rank ordering a list of achievement- and prosocial-oriented goals based on what they believed was most valued by their mothers and fathers for them (the child) to achieve. The data also included students’ reports of perceived parental criticism, internalizing symptoms, externalizing symptoms, and self-esteem, as well as school-based data on grade point average and teacher-reported classroom behavior. Person-based analyses revealed six distinct latent classes based on perceptions of both mother and father emphases on achievement. Class comparisons showed a consistent pattern of healthier child functioning, including higher school performance, higher self-esteem, and lower psychological symptoms, in association with low to neutral parental achievement emphasis, whereas poorer child functioning was associated with high parental achievement emphasis. In variable-based analyses, interaction effects showed elevated maladjustment when high maternal achievement emphasis coexisted with high (but not low) perceived parental criticism. Results of the study suggest that to foster early adolescents’ well-being in affluent school settings, parents focus on prioritizing intrinsic, prosocial values that promote affiliation and community, at least as much as, or more than, they prioritize academic performance and external achievement; and strive to limit the amount of criticism and pressure they place on their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Nov 9 2016

Fingerprint

Social Adjustment
Fathers
middle class
father
Mothers
parents
criticism
Parents
Students
Child Welfare
Self Concept
school
self-esteem
well-being
adolescent
performance
Pressure
student
moderator
community

Keywords

  • Achievement
  • Child adjustment
  • Parental criticism
  • Parental values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

When Mothers and Fathers Are Seen as Disproportionately Valuing Achievements : Implications for Adjustment Among Upper Middle Class Youth. / Ciciolla, Lucia; Curlee, Alexandria S.; Karageorge, Jason; Luthar, Suniya.

In: Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 09.11.2016, p. 1-19.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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