Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Patterns of Parental Independence Giving to Adolescents: Variations by Race, Age, and Gender of Child

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Patterns of Parental Independence Giving to Adolescents: Variations by Race, Age, and Gender of Child

Article excerpt

Using data from the first wave of the NSFH, this article examines differences between Anglo, African American, and Hispanic parents in independence giving to adolescents. Hypotheses are developed and tested based on the assumption that the parenting behaviors of minority group parents are shaped by unique patterns of adaptation derived from cultural origins in interaction with the conditions of minority group status and assimilation. Results show distinct patterns of independence giving across racial groups by gender and age of the adolescent. Differences from Anglos are attributed to values of modified patriarchy and communalism among African Americans and values of patriarchy and familism among Hispanics.

RICHARD A. BULCROF University of British Columbia DIANNE CYR CARMODY Old Dominion University* KRis ANN BULCROFT Western Washington University**

Key Words: adolescence, control, gender, independence, parenting, race.

This research uses information from the National Survey of Families and Households to examine the effects of race, in interaction with the age and gender of the child, on the degree to which parents give independence to an adolescent child. The underlying assumptions of this research are that race differences do exist in the degree to which parents give independence to their adolescent children as well as in age- and gender-specific patterns of independence giving. Furthermore, these differences are best understood as an outcome of complex adaptational processes, rather than as an abdication of control due to economic stress or an undermining of family values.

There is a long research tradition relating aspects of adolescent independence giving and control to cultural values and parents' occupational environments (Kohn, 1977; Luster, Rhoades, & Haas, 1989), and these parenting behaviors have been shown to vary as a function of the age and gender of the adolescent (Cernkovich & Giodano, 1987; Matsueda & Heimer, 1987; Seydlitz, 1991; Singer & Levine, 1988; White, Pandina, & LaGrange, 1987). Controlled comparisons of parenting attitudes and behaviors across African American, Hispanic, and Anglo families, however, are lacking (Taylor, Chatters, Tucker, & Lewis, 1990). This lack of information with respect to racial and ethnic differences in this dimension of parenting is of particular importance because independence giving and parental control behaviors have been linked to adolescent deviant behavior (Hagan, Gillis, & Simpson, 1985; Hagan, Simpson, & Gillis, 1987) and have, therefore, been implicated in discussions of adolescent deviance among minorities (Gray-Ray & Ray, 1990; Joseph, 1995; Loeber & StoulhamerLouber, 1986). Theoretically, this dimension of parenting is also of interest because it reflects not only parenting values but also internal dynamics in families, the family's relationship to outside institutions, and its attempt to adapt socialization functions to problematic external environments.


Parental independence giving is the relinquishing of direct control over adolescent behaviors, both inside and outside the home. It is a separate dimension of parenting behavior in adolescence, distinct from "parenting style" (Baumrind, 1978; Kandel & Lesser, 1969) or "involvement in decision making" (Dornbusch et al., 1985). Whereas these latter dimensions of parenting focus on the methods by which parents exercise unspecified levels of control, independence giving refers to the degree to which parents are willing to relinquish direct controls over their adolescents' behaviors. Thus, this concept reflects parents' attitudinal disposition to control and their use of parenting techniques, such as rules and curfews, that reflect their desire to maintain control over their adolescents' behaviors.

There are two domains of adolescent behaviors over which parents may exert control or grant independence-intrafamilial behaviors and extrafamilial behaviors. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.