Maternal and paternal communication patterns, experiences, perceptions, and acceptance of stereotypes: Effects on expectation of positive and negative behavioral change during adolescence

Date of Completion

January 2004


Speech Communication|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies




Little research has explored the role of parental attitudes and experiences on expectations for changes in children during adolescence. Since parents' expectations about adolescents are likely contributors to the level of family harmony or distress during the adolescent years, a better understanding of the antecedents of expectation would be valuable. The purpose of this study was to investigate parental factors that could affect mothers' and fathers' expectations that children entering adolescence have an increase in positive or negative behaviors. One factor explored in this study was parents' own experience as an adolescent. Other factors affecting expectations included parental communication patterns, the acceptance of positive and negative stereotypes about adolescents, target attitudes about the pre-adolescent child, and current relationship with child. Subjects were obtained by contacting parents of 5th and 6th graders. Those parents agreeing to participate completed a self-report survey consisting of 110 items on a 7-point Likert scale. Structural equation modeling was used to indicate effects of attitudes, perceptions, and experiences on expectations. The findings are discussed in terms of implications for families and clinicians in their understanding of possible contributors to family difficulty during adolescence. ^ The final model revealed at least partial support for all hypotheses. The general findings were that negative attitudes or experiences led to negative expectations and positive attitudes led to positives expectations with closeness slightly reducing negatives and increasing positives. Mothers' and fathers' beliefs that children should be heard and participative in family discussion had a substantial effect on positive attitudes and expectations; conformity orientation affected both positive and negative attitudes and expectations. ^