Parenting is a crucial factor in the upbringing of a person. Often character and self-worth is related to how a child is raised. A recent study has concluded children with parents who encourage them to express themselves and acknowledge their perspectives have a stronger sense of self-worth, intrinsic motivation and engagement, with less chances of depression.
As part of a new research, Wendy Grolnick, professor of psychology at Clark University, and Kristine N. Marbell-Pierre, Ph.D., conducted a parenting study amongst children from two countries — the United States and Ghana. The results of the study were published in journal Child Development in an article titled “Parental Autonomy Support in Two Cultures: The Moderating Effects of Adolescents' Self-Construals.”
"Our study resolves conflicting findings from previous studies," Grolnick says. "It suggests that supporting adolescents' sense of agency is universally beneficial, but how this support is given may not necessarily look the same across cultures."
The study concluded a nurturing environment helped children across cultures. Even though the manner in which positive development was imparted varied, the results of encouragement were found to be uniformly benefitting children.
According to a report published in Clark University official website, the findings can impact how parents in different cultures support positive development in their adolescents. The study found some forms of support appear to function similarly across cultures but there were differences in the way parents imparted positivity in their children.
"A parenting approach that allows teens to feel they are being heard has been linked to youth being happier, more self-motivated and more confident," explains Marbell-Pierre, head of guidance and counseling at Ghana International School. "This type of parenting is considered Western in its approach, and there have been questions about its benefit in non-Western, more hierarchical cultures that place greater emphasis on respect for and obedience to elders by children and youth.
The researches were conducted by asking a sample group of 401 adolescents studying in grades seventh and eighth grades from the U.S. and Ghana to fill out questionnaires. According to the study, 245 were from the United States and 156 were from Ghana.
“In our study, helping adolescents feel that their perspective mattered was helpful to youth — in both Ghana and the United States — while the role of decision making and choice differed between the two cultures."
This means giving importance to adolescents’ opinions helped build their confidence and reduced chances of depression later in life.
In the questionnaire, the teens were asked questions about their opinion on how much freedom of expression they had at home, the extent to which their parents acknowledged their point of view and allowed them to make decisions, have choices and express their opinions. It asked the teens how they felt their parents behaved and how controlling they were. The study also asked the teens if their academic motivation, sense of self-worth, level of depression and perception of themselves was independent from their parents’ opinion or if it was tied insidiously to how their parents saw them. It also studied the way the teens perceived their parents.
Though the culture of Ghana is vastly different from the U.S., the team said “there are also important variations across families within each culture that contribute to patterns for subgroups and individuals.”
The study was supported by Clark's Frances L. Hiatt School of Psychology and the Jacob and Frances Hiatt Endowment.