URC

Perceived Parental Involvement Positively Correlated With
Middle and High School Students’ Self-Esteem

Courtney A. DeSisto,
Ingrid G. Farreras,*
and Christina M. Woody
Hood College


Abstract

A convenience sample of 132 twelve-eighteen-year-old students from a private middle and high school in the mid-Atlantic was used to determine whether there is a correlation between perceived parental involvement in teenagers’ lives and the adolescents’ self-esteem. A statistically significant correlation was found between perceived parental involvement and self-esteem, and a stepwise regression analysis found that perceived parental involvement and the sex and age of the adolescents predicted 25 percent of the variance in adolescent self-esteem. Female students reported higher self-esteem than male students in all but the 12-year-old group, and self-esteem decreased during middle school but then increased by high school. Implications for future research on parental involvement in teenagers’ lives were discussed.

Introduction

It is imperative to help parents understand how the quantity and quality of time spent with their children will affect their children’s mental health and well being. Most parents hope for and encourage their children to have high self-esteem, although this may not always be successfully accomplished. If parents are aware of the effects of spending time with their adolescents, they may be able to capitalize on it. This study aimed to determine if there was a positive correlation between the quality of parental involvement in their adolescents’ lives and their adolescents’ self esteem.

Review of the Literature

The No Child Left Behind Act (U.S. Department of Education, 2001) defined parental involvement as assisting in one’s child’s learning, being actively involved in that child’s education at school. Adolescents’ interest in school, academic self-regulation, and academic goal pursuit and achievement have all been linked to parental school involvement. Spera (2006) found that adolescents’ perceptions of parental educational goals and values were positively correlated with their reports of parental school involvement and monitoring of their adolescents’ education, and the parental goals for their adolescents correlated with how their adolescents executed those goals.  Lee, Kushner, and Cho (2007) found similar results that indicated that direct parent involvementpositively correlated with adolescents’ academic achievement as well; adolescents who spent time with their parents received better grades. Additionally, adolescents who communicated with their parents were less likely to drop out of school (Stone, 2006).

Gecas (1971) defined parental involvement as the time involved in quality interactions that enrich, enhance, and contribute to the overall well-being and empowerment of the adolescent. Such parental involvement was positively correlated with adolescent mental health, and a lack of parental involvement was found to contribute to poor mental health prognoses (Robertson & Simons, 1989). Research on the well-being of adolescents found that a strong, emotional bond between parents and adolescents was positively correlated with better emotional well-being of the adolescents (Wenk & Hardesty, 1994).

High self-esteem in adolescence has been positively correlated with various desirable characteristics: enhanced initiative, pleasant feelings, and higher levels of dispositional optimism (Baumeister, Campbell, Krueger, & Vohs, 2003; Heinonen, Räikkönen, & Keltikangas-Järvinen, 2005). Parental behavior appears to play a role in such adolescent self-esteem. Gecas (1971) and Gecas and Schwalbe (1986) examined the relationship between parental behavior (i.e., how parents interacted with and supported their children) and the adolescents’ self-evaluation (e.g., strength of character and self-worth) and found that parental behavior was positively correlated with adolescents’ feelings of self-worth and empowerment. Although adolescents’ self-evaluation of their own power and worth was highly correlated with their perceptions of parental involvement, there was little correlation between parental reports of their behavior (e.g., supporting, controlling/establishing limits, participating) and their adolescents’ perception of such behavior, however.

Parker and Benson (2004) studied the relationship between parental support and monitoring of adolescents and found that greater parental monitoring was correlated with greater adolescent self-esteem. Barber, Chadwick, and Oerter (1992) also found that parental behaviors such as support and control (i.e., establishing limits) were significantly correlated with self-esteem in North American adolescents but did not find it to be significantly correlated with German adolescents’ self-esteem, leading one to question the universality of such an influence. Although the amount of time German parents spent with their adolescents did not significantly correlate with the adolescents’ self-esteem, it appeared that the quality of time did.

Family relations, including interactions among siblings, play a significant role in adolescent self-esteem as well. When Demo, Small, and Savin-Williams (1987) studied parents and their relationship with all of their adolescent children and the adolescents’ interactions with each other, they found that adolescentsand their parentshad similar but distinct perceptions of these relationships and self-perceptions within these relationships. Self-judgments of communication between parents and adolescents were especially important in predicting adolescents’ self-esteem.

The adolescents’ sex and age also seem to predict their degree of self-esteem. Robins, Trzesniewski, Tracy, Gosling, & Potter (2002) discussed how self-esteem declined from childhood to adolescence. Gecas (1971) found that male adolescents demonstrated lower self-esteem with regard to parental control and autonomy-granting (i.e., limits) while female adolescents exhibited lower self-esteem with regard to a lack of parental support. Block and Robins (1993) found that from early adolescence through early adulthood young men’s self-esteem tended to increase while young women’s self-esteem decreased. In fact, Allgood-Merten, Hops, and Lewinsohn (1990) and O’Dea and Abraham (2000) confirmed that female adolescents’ self-esteem decreased during this stage of development and was lower than in male adolescents, especially in areas concerning body image that contribute to a higher prevalence rate of eating disorders and depression. In both sexes, however, self-esteem improved when adolescents transition to early adulthood (Gosling et al., 2002).

Hypotheses

Because past research has investigated the role of specific parental behaviors as opposed to the quantity and quality of parental involvement in adolescent lives, this study’s hypothesis was that there is a positive correlation between adolescents’ perception of how involved their parents are in their lives and the adolescents’ self-esteem. A further hypothesis was that female adolescents would exhibit lower self-esteem than male adolescents, a self-esteem that would further decrease the older they became. All of the reviewed literature suggested positive correlations between parent-adolescent interactions. In many cases, parental behavior directly correlated with specific aspects of adolescents’ mental health as well as academic performance. If such correlations generalized to adolescent self-esteem, parents may make an increased effort to increase both the quality and quantity of involvement in their adolescents’ lives, particularly in their daughters’ lives.

Method

Participants               

The study consisted of a convenience sample of 132 twelve through eighteen-year-old students from two private schools in a mid-Atlantic state. Eight students (6 percent) were 12 years old, 25 (19 percent) were 13, 2 (2 percent) were 15, 41 (31 percent) were 16, 48 (36 percent) were 17, and 8 (6 percent) were 18. Thirty-three students (25 percent) were in 8th grade, 36 (27 percent) were in 11th grade, and 63 (48 percent) were in 12th grade. The mean and median age was 16 years old. Forty-two percent of students were male (N = 55) and 58 percent were female (N = 77). One hundred and seven students (81 percent) were Caucasian, 10 (8 percent) were Hispanic, 6 (5 percent) were African American, 5 (4 percent) were other/multiethnic, 3 (2 percent) were Asian American, and 1 (1 percent) was Native American.

Instruments and Procedure

Following IRB approval the authors sought approval from the principals and staff of a small, private suburban middle and high school from two cities in a mid-Atlantic state. Students then signed informed consents and, if they were under the age of 18, parental consent was also obtained.

The instruments in this study were the Rosenberg Self-Esteem (RSE) Survey (1965) and a parental involvement survey created by the authors. The Rosenberg survey used 10 four-point Likert scale questions, and the parental involvement (PI) survey was comprised of 24 five-point Likert scale questions that assessed the students’ views and beliefs of the quality and quantity of their parents’ involvement in their lives (see Appendix).

The researchers administered all of the surveys and demographic forms to the students in one school after a lunch period. The other school used its own teachers to do so. Each teacher was given specific instructions to follow on how to administer the materials. The administration and completion of materials took about 15 minutes. Upon completion, a debriefing form was given to each student explaining the goals of the survey, listing available resources for students, and including the authors’ email addresses so they could ask any further questions or obtain other information about the study. The authors, teachers and school administration encouraged the students to share the debriefing form with their parents.

Results

The 10 four-point Likert scale questions of the RSE scale were added for a total self-esteem score ranging from 10-40 for every participant in the study. Ten represented the lowest self-esteem score possible while 40 represented the highest self-esteem score possible.

The last of the 24 five-point Likert scale questions that assessed the quantity of perceived parental involvement (PI) was dropped because, upon coding it, it became evident that some participants answered it in terms of how much time they spent in the vicinity of their parents while others answered it in terms of how much time they actually spent interacting with them. As a result, statistical analyses were conducted based on perceived quality of parental involvement data only.

Eleven of the remaining 23 PI questions were reverse coded. An item-total correlation analysis of these 23 questions resulted in two of the questions being dropped (Questions 10 and 15). The remaining 21 items had item-total correlations ranging from 0.45-0.75 (M = 0.57 and Mdn = 0.55) and a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.90. Table 1 presents the self-esteem and perceived parental involvement total scores (ranging from 21-105) by age, sex, and number of participants.

A varimax factor analysis of the 21 PI questions was performed and found five factors accounting for 34 percent, 8 percent, 6 percent, 6 percent, and 5 percent, respectively (59 percent total), of the variability in scores. We labeled these factors Communication/Closeness (Questions 5, 7, 19, 21, 22, and 23), Inattentiveness/Disinterest (Questions 2, 4, 6, 11, 14, and 16), Participation (Questions 1, 8, and 18), Support/Influence (Questions 3, 12, and 13), and Neglect (Questions 17 and 20). Communication/Closeness accounted for the greatest variability in scores.

Table 1 Mean Self-Esteem and Perceived Parental Involvement Scores by Age, Sex, and Number of Participants

Age

Sex

N

Self-Esteem
M

Self-Esteem SD

Parental Involvement
M

Parental Involvement SD

12

M

3

18.67

3.21

46.00

13.89

 

F

5

18.20

4.97

46.40

22.04

 

Total

8

18.38

4.14

46.25

18.24

13

M

9

14.44

4.88

45.67

12.33

 

F

16

16.69

4.85

43.81

11.60

 

Total

25

15.88

4.88

44.48

11.65

15

F

2

14.00

5.66

25.00

5.66

 

Total

2

14.00

5.66

25.00

5.66

16

M

18

17.78

4.85

47.17

14.91

 

F

23

19.87

3.92

46.13

14.44

 

Total

41

18.95

4.42

46.59

14.47

17

M

20

16.60

5.25

45.5

11.11

 

F

28

19.93

4.18

49.68

15.74

 

Total

48

18.54

4.89

47.94

14.02

18

M

5

16.40

3.65

41.4

15.77

 

F

3

23.67

4.04

59.67

26.63

 

Total

8

19.13

5.14

48.25

20.84

Total

M

55

16.73

4.84

45.73

12.81

 

F

77

19.12

4.55

46.94

15.61

 

TOTAL

132

18.12

4.80

46.43

14.47

A Pearson r correlation between the total perceived parental involvement and total self-esteem values was calculated and found to be statistically significant, r = 0.42, p = 0.001, r2 = 0.17. Three demographic variables – age, sex, ethnicity – and the parental involvement score were entered as predictors into a stepwise regression analysis with self-esteem as the criterion variable. Three of the variables – perceived parental involvement and adolescent sex and age – predicted adolescent self-esteem, F(3, 128) = 14.55, p = 0.001, f = 0.58, accounting for 17 percent, 5 percent, and almost 3 percent of the variance in self-esteem, respectively. Female students reported higher self-esteem scores than male students in all but one (i.e., 12 year olds) of the six age groups (M = 19.11 vs. M = 16.73 overall). Self-esteem also seemed to decrease during the middle school years but then increase during the high school years.

Discussion

The purpose of this study was to determine if there was a positive correlation between adolescents’ perception of how involved their parents were in their life and the adolescents’ self-esteem. A further hypothesis was that female adolescents would exhibit lower self-esteem than male adolescents and that the self-esteem of both sexes would decrease over time.

This study found a moderate, positive correlation between perceived parental involvement and adolescent self-esteem, supporting the first hypothesis. This supports Gecas’s (1971) similar finding that parental support correlated positively with adolescents’ assertiveness and self-esteem, that higher levels of communication between parents and adolescents correlated positively with high self-esteem (Demo, Small, & Savin-Williams, 1987), and that strong emotional bonds between parents and adolescents were positively correlated with adolescent life satisfaction and mental health (Wenk & Hardesty, 1994).

The results did not support the secondary hypotheses, however, with female adolescents actually reporting higher, not lower, self-esteem scores than male adolescents, and self-esteem scores for both sexes actually increasing, not decreasing, as one progressed through high school. Perhaps female adolescents are aware of their sex’s better outcomes vis-à-vis male adolescents in the academic realm (better grades, more AP courses taken, higher graduation and college acceptance rates) and this is translating into higher self-esteem scores. Their transition from a diffuse identity adolescence to early adulthood could also explain the increases in overall self-esteem scores over time.

Although the results did support the main hypothesis that there is a positive correlation between perceived parental involvement and adolescent self-esteem, there were some limitations to this study. Ten private schools were contacted but only two private schools agreed to participate in the study. As a result, most of the adolescents who participated were Caucasian, reducing the diversity of the sample. That 14 year olds (accounting for two grades – 9 and 10 – were not sampled in the study further limited the findings’ generalizability. Another limitation was that the survey distribution differed between the schools. In one of the schools the researchers handed out the surveys and remained in the room while in the other school the survey was handed out by the teachers and not the researchers. Future research should include a greater number and diversity of participating schools and more uniformity in survey distribution.

Future studies should attempt to determine whether it is the quantity or quality of parental involvement or a combination of the two that is most highly correlated with adolescent self-esteem. Furthermore, parental involvement should be teased apart so as to investigate the unique role of fathers’ and mothers’ involvement in their adolescents’ lives. Finally, it would be sound to assess parents’ perception of their involvement in their adolescents’ lives and compare it to the adolescents’ perception – perhaps by having both complete logs of activities - as the parental involvement assessed in this study was perceived involvement, which may differ from actual involvement. This would not only provide comparison data but would also determine the relative standing of perceived versus actual involvement. If greater communication between parent and adolescent happens to be critical (as evidenced by the Communication/Closeness factor predicting the most self-esteem in the factor analysis), efforts to increase the quantity and quality of time spent communicating would affect both the actual and the perceived degree of parental involvement. So although the five factors found challenge the validity of the questions used in the survey, the literature seems to indicate that it is a variety of parental behaviors, in fact, that predict self-esteem in adolescents - including communication, support, and involvement – and it is such a combination of factors that needs to be studied further to maximize what parents can do to help their adolescents.

References

Allgood-Merten, B., Lewinsohn, P. M., & Hops, H. (1990). Sex differences and adolescent depression. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 99, 55-63.

Barber, B. K., Chadwick, B., & Oerter, R. (1992). Parental behaviors and adolescent self-esteem in the United States and Germany. Journal of Marriage and Family, 54, 128-141.

Baumeister, R. F., Campbell, J. D., Krueger, J. I., & Vohs, K. D. (2003). Does high self-esteem cause better performance, interpersonal success, happiness, or healthier lifestyles? Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 4, 1-44.

Block, J., & Robins, RW. (1993). A longitudinal study of consistency and change in self-esteem from early adolescence to early adulthood. Child. Development, 64, 909-23.

Demo, D. H., Small, S. A., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (1987). Family relations and the self-esteem of adolescents and their parents. Journal of Marriage & Family, 49, 705-715.

Gecas, V. (1971). Parental behavior and dimensions of adolescent self-evaluation. Sociometry, 34, 466-482.

Gecas, V., & Schwalbe, M.L., (1986). Parental behavior and adolescent self-esteem. Journal of Marriage & Family, 48, 37-46.

Heinonen, K., Räikkönen, K., & Keltikangas-Järvinen, L. (2005). Self-esteem in early and late adolescence predicts dispositional optimism–pessimism in adulthood: A 21-year longitudinal study. Personality and Individual Differences, 39, 511-521.

Lee, S. M., Kushner, J., & Cho, S. H. (2007). Effects of parent’s gender, child’s gender and parental involvement on the academic achievement of adolescents in single parent families. Sex Roles, 56, 149-157. 

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, Pub. I. No 107-110, Sect. 9109(32), 115 Stat. 1425 (2002). Retrieved September 22, 2009, from http://www.ed.gov/policy/elsec/leg/esea02/pg107.html#sec9109.

O'Dea, J.A., & Abraham, S. (2000). Improving the body image, eating attitudes, and behaviors of young male and female adolescents: A new educational approach that focuses on self-esteem. The International Journal of Eating Disorders, 28, 43-57.

Parker, J., & Bensen, M. (2004). Parent-adolescent relations and adolescent functioning: Self-esteem, substance abuse, and delinquency. Adolescence, 39, 519-530.

Robertson, J. F., & Simons, R. L. (1989). Family factors, self-esteem, and adolescent depression. Journal of Marriage and Family, 51, 125-138.

Robins, R. W., Trzesniewski, K. H., Tracy, J. L., Gosling, S. D., & Potter, J. (2002). Global self-esteem across the lifespan. Psychology and Aging, 17, 423-434.

Spera, C. (2006). Adolescents’ perceptions of parental goals, practices, and styles in relation to their motivation and achievement. Journal of Early Adolescence, 26, 456-490.

Stone, S. (2006). Correlates of change in student reported parent involvement in schooling: A new look at the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 76, 518-530.

Wenk, D., & Hardesty, C. (1994). The influence of parental involvement on the well-being of sons and daughters. Journal of Marriage and Family, 56, 228-234.

 

Appendix

 

Parental Involvement Survey

Please read the following statements and then circle the answer that best applies to you (strongly agree, somewhat agree, not sure, somewhat disagree and strongly disagree). If you do not live with your parent(s) then please circle the answer that would best describe your relationship with your guardian(s).

1) Overall, I believe that my parents/ guardians are very involved in my life.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

2) I do not think that my parents have an accurate idea about my daily life.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

3) My parents show support for my activities outside of school.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

4) I feel that if my parents paid more attention to my school news and events, I would be a more successful student.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

5) I engage in conversations with my parents about my day often.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

6) I feel I have to go out of my way to get my parents’ attention and/or interest in my life.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

7) If I have a problem, I don’t feel comfortable asking for my parents’ advice.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

8) I feel that my parents are more involved in my life compared to my peers’ parents.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

9) My parents do not understand me because they are not involved in my life.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

10) I am involved in school and/or extracurricular activities because of my parents’ influence.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

11) I would like for my parents to be more supportive of my interests and/or activities.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

12) My parents’ ideas greatly influence my decisions in life.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

13) My parents don’t attend as many schools events/extra curricular activities compared to my peers’ parents.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

14) I would participate in more activities if my parents were more interested in what I like to do.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

15) I would be more involved in school activities if my parents stopped asking me to be more involved.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

16) I would enjoy spending time with my parents more if I felt that they wanted to spend time with me.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

17) It’s easy to do things my parents don’t approve of because they are usually too busy to notice.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

18) I often act up or behave badly so my parents will have to punish me.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

19) My parents understand me because I find it easy to communicate with them.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

20) I spend more time at my friends’ houses then I do at my own home.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

21) I enjoy spending time with my parents.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

22) I feel that my parents do not understand me.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

23) My parents and I often eat dinner and other meals together during the week.
SA       SA            NS            SD            SD

 


URC RESOURCES:

©2002-2016 All rights reserved by the Undergraduate Research Community.

Research Journal: Vol. 1 Vol. 2 Vol. 3 Vol. 4 Vol. 5 Vol. 6 Vol. 7 Vol. 8 Vol. 9 Vol. 10 Vol. 11 Vol. 12 Vol. 13 Vol. 14 Vol. 15
High School Edition

Call for Papers ¦ URC Home ¦ Kappa Omicron Nu

KONbutton K O N KONbutton