Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Impact of Parenting on Empathy and Personal Distress among Adolescents

Academic journal article Indian Journal of Positive Psychology

Impact of Parenting on Empathy and Personal Distress among Adolescents

Article excerpt

"Parenting is the process of promoting and supporting physical, emotional, social and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the activity of raising a child rather than the biological relationship" (Martin, 2000).

Delaney (2007) says, "Good parenting is an essential part of rearing children in this day and time...we must be proactive in the legacy that we are living for them, hence we must be actively involved in all aspects of their lives leaving nothing to chance. All decisions made on behalf of the children must be done out of love and commitment for their child."

The behavior of parents affects the child's behavior also. Trommsdroffs (1991) research supports the link between a parent's behavior and a child's behavior with the parents providing themselves as models. Parents who showed more empathy, perspective taking warmth and reasoning, had children who were more emotionally responsive and showed more empathy. But too much emotional expression may induce distress.

Empathy and Personal distress can be understood in relation to Prosocial behavior which is 'defined as actions that benefit other people or society as a whole' (Twinge, Ciarocco, Bauneister, & Bastéis, 2007).

It is characterized by helping that does not benefit the helper, in fact prosocial behavior is often accompanied by costs. Batson (1987) presented an empathy-altruism theory which proposed that individual's empathy for another person would also experience an altruistic motivation to help the person. Piliavin and Chamge (1990) proposed that the motivation to help another individual comes more from wanting to decrease personal distress rather than to alleviate the distress of the victim or person in need of help.

In the words of Decety and Meyer (2008), Empathy "means putting oneself in another person's mould. It is being in somebody else's shoes and knows about their emotions and entering in to their way of thinking. Thus this quality assists a person in recognizing, perceiving and feeling the emotions of others. People often empathize with others through their moods and behavior".

Empathy is a positive affective state and Personal Distress is an aversive, self focused emotional reaction e.g. anxiety, worry, discomfort to the apprehension or comprehension of author's emotional state or condition.

Decety and Lamm (2009) say that Personal Distress may even result in a more egoistic motivation to reduce it, by withdrawing the likelihood of prosocial behavior.

Batson, Flute and Scheonrade (1987) explained that 'Empathie Concern is other-focused congruent emotion produced by witnessing another person's suffering that involves such feelings as sympathy, compassion, soft-heartedness. Personal Distress on the other hand is the negative self-focused emotion that may be the result of the uncomfortable situation that often produce empathie concern'.

Empathy and Personal Distress both motivate helping behavior, sometimes the person may refrain from helping due to severe personal distress and sometimes offers help to relieve from personal distress.

Parents are role models for offsprings with regard to helping/ prosocial behavior. According to Midlarsky, Hanna, and Carley (1995), adolescence is the most crucial years to learn some important lessons of life including prosocial behavior. This is the subtle and difficult time too and also the best stage of life where moulding can be done easily.

Objectives of the study

* To study empathy, personal distress with reference to parenting of adolescents.

* Assessment of empathy, personal distress and parenting of adolescent subjects.

* To compare impact of parenting on empathy and personal distress.

* To see gender difference with regard to parenting, empathy and personal distress.

Hypotheses of the study

* There is significant difference with regard to impact of parenting on empathy and personal distress. …

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