Adolescents' Psychological Well-Being and Perceived Parental Involvement: Implications for Parental Involvement in Middle Schools

Article excerpt

Abstract

Adolescence is a critical period of development. Previous research suggests parent involvement in school directly impacts student success. However, different types of parental involvement and the efforts of middle school personnel to educate parents about these effective practices have received scant attention in the literature. The level and type of parental involvement, as perceived by adolescents, is correlated with adolescent psychological well-being. Perceived parental involvement positively or negatively affects adolescents' sense of psychological well-being, especially self-esteem, self-evaluation, and peer relationships. Parenting style greatly influences children's development as well. The authoritative/democratic parenting style influences middle school children, leading to positive developmental outcomes, positive adolescent self-evaluations, higher levels of adolescent self-esteem and adjustment, while also positively influencing levels of intrinsic motivation for learning. This article reviews research related to (a) adolescents' perceptions of parental involvement, (b) the parenting style related to higher levels of psychological well-being, and (c) the impact of assorted parenting styles on adolescent psychological well-being. It concludes with implications for middle school systems, middle school counselors, families, parents, and community members.

Introduction

Adolescence is a critical period of development. Adolescents are continuously changing mentally, physically, and psychologically (Santrock, 2004). They are learning more about the 'real world' and trying to strive for both independence from parents and inclusion in social groups (Santrock & Yussen, 1984). Adolescents want to be perceived as adults with capable decision-making skills, but also want to remain members of a large peer group. Additionally, these young people desire support and structure from their parents, though they project an indifferent demeanor and challenge the supportive measures of their parents. Whether parents are involved in and support their adolescents' school life can directly affect their personal and social development as well as their academic success (Gecas & Schwalbe, 1986; Harris & Goodall, 2008; Jeynes, 2007).

Previous research has shown parent involvement in school directly impacts student success (Harris & Goodall, 2008; Jeynes, 2007; Sirvani, 2007; Whitmore & Norton-Meier, 2008). However, types of involvement and efforts to educate parents about the most effective types of involvement during the middle school years have received scant attention in the literature. This article focuses on adolescents and their psychological well-being. Specifically, two research questions were used as guides for the study. First, do adolescents who have a higher level of perceived parental involvement have a higher level of psychological well-being? Second, which parenting style is related to higher levels of psychological well-being? The purpose of the article is to discuss possible applications of the answers to these questions to increase parental involvement in middle schools by developing home and school relationships. Answers to these questions are also used to frame productive middle school parent programming and education efforts.

The Adolescent-Parent Relationship and Psychological Well-Being

The relationship between perceived parental involvement and adolescent psychological well-being is based on two realities. The first reality, the home environment, is the initial social arena in which adolescents have remained more consistently under the influence and supervision of their parents. Later, these individuals begin to seek an alternate reality, separating from parents and seeking inclusion with peers during adolescence (Bossard & Boll, 1966; Santrock & Yussen, 1984). Adolescents begin building their own self-concept through observing the reactions directed toward them by vital individuals in their lives (Gibson & Jefferson, 2006). …