Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Parents' Messages about the Role of Extracurricular and Unstructured Leisure Activities: Adolescents' Perceptions

Academic journal article Journal of Leisure Research

Parents' Messages about the Role of Extracurricular and Unstructured Leisure Activities: Adolescents' Perceptions

Article excerpt

Introduction

Various socialization theories point to the family as a key socializing agent and most influential during early childhood (Kiecolt & Acock, 1988). Throughout childhood and early adolescence, children usually rely on their mothers and fathers as well as other family members (i.e., siblings, grandparents) for guidance in many aspects of life (Collins, Maccoby, Steinberg, Hetherington, & Bornstein, 2000; Peterson & Hann, 1999) including leisure. Parents are one of the most significant socialization agents responsible for the leisure interests and values that their children develop (Barnett & Chick, 1986; Kelly, 1983; Kleiber, 1999). This influence that parents have during childhood continues to have an effect on an individual as an adult. For example, researchers have demonstrated that leisure interests developed at a young age are carried through into adulthood (Scott & Willits, 1989, 1998; Shannon, 2003; Sofranko & Nolan, 1972; Yoesting & Burkhead, 1973).

Although the parent-child relationship as it relates to leisure is important, the influence of parents on children's leisure behaviour has not been widely examined. Existing research has focused mainly on the influence of parents on interests and/or activities without addressing leisure values and attitudes. Therefore, little is known about how parents influence their children's valuation of leisure, attitudes toward leisure, or understanding of the role that leisure plays in their lives. Furthering knowledge about these influences is important because values and attitudes motivate behaviour (Schwartz & Bardi, 2001) including leisure activity choices and behaviours (Ajzen & Driver, 1991; 1992).

Adolescents have considerable amounts of discretionary time with many opportunities to make leisure-related choices. A significant body of literature has been developed that identifies the leisure choices that adolescents make during their discretionary time (e.g., Eccles & Barber, 1999; Larson & Kleiber, 1993) and the outcomes that are associated with participation in various activities (e.g., Eccles, Barber, Stone, & Hunt, 2003). The choices and outcomes exist along a continuum of positive to negative. For example, Larson (2000) identified that leisure provided adolescents with opportunities for positive self-development. At the other end of the continuum, some youth choose to engage in criminal activity during their leisure time, which can have negative effects on the community as well as lead to an adolescent's early introduction to the justice system (Robertson, 1993). Other youth, however, make choices that are perceived or judged by many adults as negative even though the activities being chosen have the potential to produce positive outcomes (Kloep & Hendry, 2003). For example, a group of young people hanging out at the mall with friends is often perceived as a problem by shoppers and business owners. Using discretionary time in this manner does, however, provide opportunities for social interaction and a sense of belonging-both of which are considered to be positive outcomes of leisure.

Understanding the range of choices and outcomes that can result from and are accessible through adolescents' leisure participation has prompted researcher interest in what influences or motivates leisure time use and leisure choices during adolescence (e.g., Eccles, Wigfield, & Schiefele, 1998; Fredricks, Alfeld-Liro, Hruda, Eccles, Patrick, & Ryan, 2002; Hutchinson, Baldwin, & Caldwell, 2003). During adolescence, peers begin to exert more influence on leisure time use and choices (Fredricks et al.; Kleiber, 1999), but parents are still significant in guiding and directing adolescent time use. Important research on parenting styles and parental disciplinary practices has provided insight into the manner in which parents influence adolescent behavior (e.g., Collins et al., 2000; Darling & Steinberg, 1993; Hutchinson et al. …

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