The Effect of Perceived Parental Involvement and the Use of Growth-Fostering Relationships on Self-Concept in Adolescents Participating in Gear Up

Article excerpt

One of the primary developmental tasks of adolescence is the formation of identity (Knox, Funk, Elliott, & Bush, 1998). However, this is a complex process that is compounded by social, cognitive, and physical transitions that begin in early adolescence (Hill & Hombeck, 1986; Peterson, Leffert, Graham, Alwin, & Ding, 1997). As adolescents learn to cope with these transitions, they may experience several changes in self-concepts and social relationships (Harter, 1990). In the process, they may try to find out who they are as they separate from their families, determine their interests, and their life goals (Santrock, 2001).

The constructs of self-concept and self-esteem are often intertwined during adolescence. Self-concept has been defined as the perception of identity and achievements, self-esteem as the perception of self-worth (Powell, 2004), and self-definition as the combination of the perceptions of self-worth and efficacy (Kuperminc, Blatt, Shahar, Henrich, & Leadbeater, 2004). These perceptions or self-beliefs can influence adolescents' ability to act competently (Bruner, 1996), and self-concept is the integration of these self-beliefs and the judgments of significant others in their lives (Bosacki, 2003). Parents, teachers, and peers influence adolescents' development of a sense of self (Banaerjee & Yuill, 1999; Wilkinson, 2004). Researchers have found that the quality of family relationships, friendships, and/or school experiences is associated positively with reports of self-esteem and negatively with reported depressive symptoms (Dubois, Felner, Brand, Adan, & Evans, 1992; Eccles, Early, Frasier, Belansky, & McCarthy, 1997; Harter & Whitesell, 1996; Hughes & Demo, 1989; Luster & McAdoo, 1995; McFarlane, Bellissimo, & Norman, 1995). Additionally, Way and Robinson (2003) reported that the interpersonal relationships within adolescents' school settings influence academic achievement, goals, ideals, and psychological well-being. These relationships can include the influence of school personnel (e.g., teachers, principals, tutors, and other staff) as well as peers. However, researchers agree that parents contribute significantly to school effectiveness and to students' success (Rosenblatt & Peled, 2002). Specifically, parental involvement has been one of the most significant indicators of school effectiveness (Rosenblatt & Peled, 2002) and psychological adjustment in children (Veneziano & Rohner, 1998).

In one survey of school administrators, parental school involvement programs were endorsed for their effectiveness in helping at-risk students (Johnson, 1997). In general, such involvement can include parents' expectations of school performance, verbal encouragement or interactions regarding school work, direct reinforcement of improved school performance, general academic guidance and support, and student perceptions of the degree to which their parents influenced their post-high school plans and monitored their daily activities and school progress (Fehrmann, Keith, & Reimers, 1987).

Research indicates that perceived parental involvement can help youth achieve higher grades through monitoring their daily activities, by keeping close track of their school progress, and by working closely with them for planning post-high school pursuits (Fehrmann et al., 1987). Furthermore, perceived maternal and paternal involvement contributes positively to the psychological well-being of adolescents (Flouri & Buchanan, 2003). The role of a strong and positive adult influence appears to be important to adolescents' evolving self-concept. Mentoring programs that offer social support, nurturance, feedback, and resources have been found to contribute to the development of positive self-concept in adolescents (Keating, Tomishima, Foster, & Alessandri, 2002; Turner & Scherman, 1996). In essence, adolescent self-concept is influenced strongly by relationships with family, peers, mentors, and communities such as schools. …