Predictors of Perceived Satisfaction with Parental Control in Chinese Adolescents: A 3-Year Longitudinal Study

Article excerpt

In the field of parental behavioral control, certain views suggest a need to recognize the multi-dimensional nature of parental behavioral control (Smetana & Daddis, 2002) and to differentiate aspects of parental behavioral control. In addition to the act of control as reflected by parental knowledge, expectations, monitoring, discipline, and control, Shek (2005, 2006b) argued that it is also important to examine whether adolescent children are satisfied with the parental behavioral control imposed on them. The adolescent children's satisfaction is important because it determines the extent to which they are willing to be socialized (Darling & Steinberg, 1993), which is a factor mediating the effect of parenting on adolescent developmental outcomes.

What are the factors that determine satisfaction with parental behavioral control? Fundamentally, it can be reasoned that the nature of parenting might be related to satisfaction. For example, while parental responsiveness was positively related to satisfaction with parental behavioral control, parental discipline was negatively related (Shek, 2006b). With specific reference to the domain of parent-adolescent relational qualities, cross-sectional research findings suggest that at least three areas of parent-child relational qualities might influence child's satisfaction with parental control (Shek, 2005, 2006b). The first area is whether the adolescent child trusts the parent. The reasoning is that if the child trusts the parent, he/she will be more satisfied with the parental behavioral control. The second area is whether the child has a perception that the parent trusts him/her. It can be conjectured that if the child does not feel trusted, parental behavioral control would be seen negatively.

Unfortunately, a survey of the literature shows that the role of trust has been inadequately covered. For example, Rotenberg (1995) remarked "despite the apparent importance of socialization of trust, it has received little empirical attention" (p. 713), and Noack, Kerr, and Olah (1999) commented that "trust in the family has never really attracted scholarly attention" (p. 714). According to the theoretical propositions of the attachment theories (e.g., Bailham & Harper, 2004; Bowlby, 1988; Goldberg, Muir, & Kerr, 1995) and attachment-based family therapies (Diamond & Stern, 2003), it was expected that a higher level of child's trust (which symbolizes a higher sense of security) would contribute to better parent-child relational qualities (e.g., satisfaction with parental behavioral control). Empirically, some research shows that mutual trust between parents and adolescents is significantly related to parent-child relational qualities (Shek, 2006b, in press).

Besides mutual trust between parents and their adolescent children, readiness of the child to communicate with the parents (e.g., the child's voluntary disclosure) also influences his/her satisfaction with parental behavioral control. It can be reasoned that as the child's readiness to communicate with the parents increases, parental knowledge would also increase. In addition, the child's readiness to communicate with the parents would facilitate the socialization process in which parents would find it easier to restrict or control the behavior of the child. Empirically, several studies have noted that the child's readiness to communicate with the parents (i.e., child's voluntary disclosure) was positively related to parental knowledge as well as parental control (Crouter & Head, 2002; Kerr & Stattin, 2000; Stattin & Kerr, 2000).

There are several intrinsic limitations to studies of predictors of satisfaction with parental behavioral control in the literature. First, as mentioned, few studies have examined the predictors of perceived satisfaction with parental control (Shek, 2006c, in press). In addition, few studies have examined predictors of perceived parental control with reference to both fathers and mothers (Shek, 2005). …