Date of Thesis

4-10-2013

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

First Advisor

Chris Boyatzis

Abstract

As a result of previous studies, the present study will investigate how college students perceive their mothers' parenting behaviors, as well as asking mothers to describe their own parenting behaviors. The first purpose of this study is to assess the level of match or congruence between students' and mothers' perceptions of the mothers’ warmth, psychological control, and behavioral control: behavioral control being mothers giving their children a curfew, and psychological control being mothers constantly reminding their children how much they have done for them. The second purpose is to determine how the level of congruence (or incongruence) between mothers and children is related to other important psychological qualities in the mother-child relationship, such as their attachment and their level of satisfaction with their relationship, and to the student's self-esteem. It is important to get both children’s and mothers’ perceptions because, as Tein, Roosa, and Michaels (1994) found, children are often more influenced by their perception of the parental attitudes and behaviors rather than the actual parental attitudes and behaviors that are reported by the parents or other informants. The sample consisted of 131 mother-student dyads. All of the students were enrolled in a small, private, traditional-aged, liberal arts college in the Northeast. A large majority of the subjects were white and middle to middle-upper class and living with both biological parents. The Children’s Report of Parental Behavior Inventory (CRPBI), the central measure, assesses congruence between mothers’ and children’s perceptions of the mother’s warmth, psychological control, and behavioral control. Other measures being used are The Kansas Parental Satisfaction Scale (KPSS) to assess relationship 2 satisfaction, Rosenberg’s Self-Esteem Scale to assess self-esteem, and, lastly, the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (IPPA) to assess attachment in the mother-child relationship. Overall, mothers and children were found to be congruent on mothers’ level of behavioral control, but not on psychological control and warmth. However, I did find that congruence and children’s relationship satisfaction predict each other, but, that in both cases, they no longer predicted each other when accounting for children’s perception of trust. It seems that children’s perception of trust in the mother-child relationship is more indicative of children’s relationship satisfaction than agreement amongst mothers and children. Interestingly enough, level of mother-child congruence predicted children’s perceptions of trust, even after accounting for self-esteem, children’s perceptions of communication, and children’s relationship satisfaction. Therefore, level of congruence and trust are highly related and essential to understanding the mother-child relationship. This study helped refine the concept of mother-child congruence by defining congruence as a continuous variable opposed to viewing congruence as a dichotomous variable like past research has (Tein et al., 1994). Therefore, mothers and children can be congruent on some subscales, but not on others. This study found that congruence does matter in the mother-child relationship during the college years; however, regressions showed that after accounting for self-esteem and fundamental variables, like trust and communication, congruence is not always important in predicting children’s relationship satisfaction.

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