Adolescent Expectations of Their Parents Its Effect on Their Academic Work

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Journal of Youth and Adolescence, Vol. 26, No. 3, 1997

Expectations Regarding DevelopmentDringt Adolescence: Parental and Adolescen Perceptions Maja Dekovic,1 Marc J. Noom,2 and Wim Meeus3
Received August 20, 1995; accepted August 26, 1996

The aims of this study were (1) to compare the age-related expectations of parents and adolescents concerning the timing of achievement in a number of developmental tasks, (2) to examine whether personal characteristics of the adolescent affect developmental expectations, and (3) to examine whether discrepancies between the adolescent's and the parent's expectations are related to the amount of parent-adolescent conflict. The sample consisted of 508 families with adolescents (12-18 years old). During a home visit, a battery of questionnaires was administered individually to mothers, fathers, and adolescents. A new 24-item instrument to assess expectations for adolescents' mastery of developmental tasks was developed for this study. Analyses showed that when the expectations of adolescents and those of their parents are compared at aggregate level, parents consistently indicate later ages for the achievement of developmental tasks than adolescents. Although parents have later timetables, parents and adolescents have strikingly similar views of the sequence in which achievement of developmental tasks should occur. The adolescent's age appears to be the most potent predictor of developmental timetables, followed by gender, pubertal timing, and temperament, respectively. The amount of conflict within the parent-adolescent relationship was associated with differences in

This research was supported by a grant from the Ministry of Health and Culture (PCOJ). 1Assistant Professor, Department of Youth, Family, and Life Course, Faculty of Social Sciences, Utrecht University, P.O. Box 80.140, 3508 TC Utrecht, The Netherlands. Received Ph.D. from University of Nijmegen. Research interests: adolescent social development and family relationships during adolescence. 2Developmental Psychologist, Department of Youth, Family, and Life Course, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Received Master's from University of Amsterdam. Research interests: individual and social determinants of adolescent autonomy. 3Professor, Department of Youth, Family, and Life Course, Utrecht University, The Netherlands. Received Ph.D, from Utrecht University. Research interests; personal and social development of adolescents.

0047-2891/97/0600-0253$12.50 © 1997 Plenum Publishing Corporation


Dekovic et al.

developmental expectations. The utility of the new instrument for research and clinical work is discussed. INTRODUCTION In order to accommodate the adolescent's increasing need for autonomy, the parent-child relationship changes during adolescence in subtle but important ways. One of the factors that affects the smoothness of this transformation is the expectations about adolescence held by the parent and the adolescent. In Western societies adolescence is viewed as a transitional stage to adulthood, with culturally defined developmental tasks such as becoming emotionally independent of parents, finishing education, finding a job, setting up an independent life, etc. There are widely held cultural myths about this developmental period. Adolescence is seen as a troubled time and adolescents are said to be rebellious and prone to mood swings. This stereotyped perception both of adolescents as a group and of specific individuals is not only consistently presented by news media, fiction, and the health professionals, but also appears to be held by parents. Parents of preadolescents, especially mothers, expect that their children will become more difficult to get along with during adolescence, that adolescents will experience problems in adjusting to physical changes and that the conflict between parent and peer pressures will increase (Buchanan et al., 1990). In this study we examine a specific type of...
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