Parental Attitudes and Ego Identity Status of Turkish Adolescents

Article excerpt


The relationship of identity formation of adolescents with familial variables has been the focus of many studies in recent decades (Kroger, 2000). Family interaction, as noted by Marcia (1966) much earlier, was found to be significantly influential in identity formation of adolescents (Conger & Galambos, 1997). In particular, interactions emphasizing warmth, acceptance, and understanding were found to be associated with the variations in adolescent ego development (Hauser et al., 1984).

The impact of family environment, child-rearing practices, parental attachment, and parenting style on identity development has been well documented in western literature (Adams & Jones, 1983; Grotevant & Cooper, 1985; Matos, Barbosa, Almeida, & Costa, 1999; Meeus, Oosterwegel, & Vollebergh, 2002; Samuolis, Layburn, & Schiaffino, 2001; Weinmann & Newcombe, 1990). For example, O'Connor (1995) found that emotional support of parents was associated with identity achievement among males and with foreclosure among females. Adams and Jones (1983) reported that female adolescents who were either in identity achievement or moratorium tended to perceive their mothers' behaviors as encouraging their independent behavior but rarely engaging in controlling and regulating their behavior. Adams' (1985) study with female adolescents revealed that supportive parent-child relations contributed to progressive movement toward identity achievement. Kamptner (1988) also reported that warmth and autonomy in the family enhanced adolescents' identity development and confidence.

Taken collectively, these findings support the expectation that parenting style, including parental acceptance and involvement, contribute to adolescents' identity development. Further, balancing individuality and connectedness in the parent-child relationship is also crucial in terms of identity exploration and mature identity status.

Parent-child relationships, and parental styles may vary in diverse cultures, which may lead to some variations in ego identity development of adolescents. Indeed, the results of a comparative cross-cultural study by Taylor and Oskay (1995) revealed that Turkish parents emerged as more controlling than American parents. Moreover, American adolescents' identity diffusion in both interpersonal and ideological domains was positively correlated with authoritarian parenting while in the Turkish adolescent sample, only moratorium in the interpersonal domain was found to be positively correlated with authoritarian parenting.

For clarification, it is essential to describe the characteristics of the Turkish family, which can still be described as somewhat traditional, authoritarian, and patriarchal although there are variations among regions. The social context of the Turkish family system is based on close group ties, accountability, loyalty, and interdependence rather than autonomy and individualism (Okman-Fisek, 1982). Despite regional differences, obedience is still a highly valued characteristic in Turkish culture (Kagitcibasi, 1996). Most adolescents, even over the age of 18 (60.9% of the total population) live with their parents and this situation is regarded as normal. Families in Turkish culture meet youngsters psychological needs (such as dependency) for many years (Gulerce, 1996). Mocan-Aydin (2000) also supports this view and states that emotional dependency is normally encouraged and is perceived as "the manifestation of being a good son or daughter who respects and cares for the elders of the family" (p. 284). Many families expect their children to look after them when they become old. This attitude may be contributing to the development of familial and communal values of mutual support rather than individualistic achievement (Kagitcibasi, 1982).

In this study we assessed parenting styles in terms of four parental attitudes: authoritative, neglectful, authoritarian, and permissive, based on acceptance/involvement and control/supervision dimensions (Lamborn, Mounts, Steinberg, & Dornbusch, 1991). …