The Parents of Successful Secondary School Students of Turkish and Moroccan Background in the Netherlands: Parenting Practices and the Relationship with Parents

Article excerpt

The present study focuses on academically successful 17 year old adolescents of Turkish and Moroccan background in the Netherlands. The parenting practices of their parents are examined along with the students' relationships with their parents. One hundred and six successful and less successful adolescents of Turkish, Moroccan and Dutch background participated in the study. The successful ethnic-minority students were expected to have a better relationship with their parents and to have less authoritarian parents than did less successful students. Indeed, the successful Turkish - and Moroccan - background students appeared to have less authoritarian parents than did the less successful. Nevertheless, the successful Turkish - and Moroccan - background students had a less satisfactory relationship with their parents, probably because their success widened the social distance between them and their parents more than was the case for the other groups.

Key words: parent child relations, childrearing practices, minority groups, academic achievement, adolescents.

Since the 1960s, many different minority groups have settled in the Netherlands. Three main groups can be distinguished: immigrants from the former colonies; guest workers; asylum seekers and refugees. The largest groups of immigrants are guest workers and people from the former colonies. In the Netherlands, about 13 percent of all school-going children are from ethnic minorities. In this paper we focus on the largest groups of guest workers: Turks and Moroccans. They were encouraged to come to the Netherlands when rapid economic growth brought about a shortage of unskilled labour. Although most guest workers originally planned to return to their country of origin, many have remained in the Netherlands. Turkish and Moroccan immigrants arriving more recently (often to be reunited with their families) have nearly all stayed. In 1999, 300,000 Turks and 253,000 Moroccans were living in the Netherlands in a total population of about 16,000,000. Many are long-term unemployed and new arrivals experience great difficulties finding a job.

The literature devoted to the school careers of students of Turkish and Moroccan background in the Netherlands reports that these students do not perform as well as students of Dutch background. Researchers have often examined the factors that underlie the less successful school careers of these students. However, there are also secondary school students of Turkish and Moroccan background who are successful at school: they attend a higher level school type, which enables them to proceed automatically to tertiary education on completing high school.

The percentage of successful students of Turkish and Moroccan background (15 percent) can be said to be relatively high, considering the academic achievement of these groups in primary school (Van der Veen, 2001). It is of interest to investigate why some Turkish - and Moroccan-background students are placed in a school of a higher level, while others who had similar achievement scores in primary school are placed in a school of a lower level (in this study this term refers to schools that prepare for manual occupations or intermediate vocational education).

A study of successful students of Turkish and Moroccan background is important because this may facilitate the emancipation of people of Turkish and Moroccan background in the Netherlands by fostering an attitude that the success of these people is not unusual. Successful students may also serve as a model for other Turkish - and Moroccan-background students. This paper focuses on successful secondary school students of Turkish and Moroccan background in the Netherlands and investigates the reasons for their success. The main focus is on the students' relationship with their parents and their upbringing.

THEORY

The influence of parents is important not only in childhood, but also in adolescence (Brown, Mounts, Lamborn, & Steinberg, 1993). …