Parenting Practices and Personal Values: Comparison between Parents of Institutionalized and Non-Institutionalized Adolescents

By Aavik, Anu; Aavik, Toivo et al. | Trames, March 2006 | Go to article overview

Parenting Practices and Personal Values: Comparison between Parents of Institutionalized and Non-Institutionalized Adolescents


Aavik, Anu, Aavik, Toivo, Korgesaar, Jaan, Trames


1. Introduction

There has been an increase of interest in the risk factors that determine juvenile antisocial behavior. The complex etiology of the problem has produced a variety of approaches to the issue. Although the sources of juvenile antisocial behavior have been studied extensively, little is known about their correlation with the values of their parents.

1.1. Personal values

For a long time values have been seen as a powerful tool for explaining behavior (Rokeach 1973). Schwartz and Bilsky (1987, 1990) have generated a contemporary conceptual definition of values that incorporates the five formal features of values mentioned in literature on the topic. Values are (1) concepts or beliefs; (2) pertain to desirable end states or behavior (aims); (3) transcend specific situations; (4) guide selection or evaluation of behavior and events; and (5) are ordered by their relative importance. Parents differ in the characteristics they value in their lives and these differences could contribute to differences in parenting behavior too. In 1963, Kohn proposed the following causal sequence: social class [right arrow] conditions of life [right arrow] parental values [right arrow] parental behavior. For instance, he claimed that the parent, who attaches greater importance to self-realization, emphasizes supportive rearing practices with regard to the child. Kohn in 1977 argued that all parents want certain things for their children--that they would do well at school, be happy, etc. However, parents differ in the emphasis they place on some characteristics, and especially on the extent to which they value self-directed independent behavior in their children. For Kohn, these emphases are related to parents' position in the social stratification system. Thus, parents who do not have higher education and have non-professional jobs are more likely to want their children to learn to obey rules and to conform to external standards. This theory has been supported also by Luster et al (1989). Tudge et al (1999) have tested Kohn's hypotheses in a comparative study of Estonia, USA, South Korea and Russia. Their results clearly supported Kohn's work linking social class and values, as well as that of Luster and his colleagues connecting class, values, and specific child-rearing beliefs.

Predominantly, other people are the sources of value socialization--most values are learned from parents, adults who are not relatives, peers and the media (Rowe 1994). Therefore, the parents of adolescents are among the most important socialization agents to be studied. We assume that the values that are personally important to them are most probably also transferred to their children. Rohan and Zanna (1996) have found similarities between the value profiles of parents and of their adult offspring. Their results showed that the right-wing authoritarian attitudes of parents most strongly influenced the transfer of values from parents to children. Right-wing authoritarianism was also positively correlated with such values as conformity, traditions, safety, power, and benevolence. The study of Bogenschneider et al (1998) demonstrated that the values of a family and close relationships between family members were important factors influencing adolescents' alcohol and drug use, running away from home and choice of friends. Thus values of a family and the aims of child rearing are critical determinants of parental behavior (Bogenschneider et al 1998, Darling, Steinberg, 1993). Schaefer and Edgerton (1985) found that children of parents who valued self-direction scored higher on language and math scales than children of parents who valued conformity. Teachers also rated the first mentioned children higher than the children whose parents valued more conformity.

Parental values have also been studied at the University of Tartu. In 1990 a study that compared families with small children in Estonia and Finland was conducted within the framework of the partnership agreement between the University of Tartu and the University of Kuopio (Raudik 1995). …

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