Parental Pressure versus Parental Support: Differences in Their Modifying Children's Affections


Family and work communications play a crucial role in socializing and transmitting relational worldviews. Parents’ outlook and conduct determine their children’s affective reactions. Parental pressure and support are important tools in forming the values and beliefs of the younger generation (Kanters, Bocarro, & Casper, 2008, p.64).

This paper suggests an original communication experiment that examines the aspects of parents’ role in modifying their children’s affections. The goal of the experiment is to explain the influence of pressure and support on children in a family. This experiment is relevant because it will give a complete picture of the above-mentioned issue as previous related researches and experiments “only recently included measures that directly ask parents about their level of involvement” (Kanters et al., 2008, p.68).


Basic Line of Research

This study will explore data collected from both children and their parents. The ratio of consensus between parental perception and children’s judgment is a significant factor of the outcome evaluation.

The study will examine several issues. First, it will calculate the ratio of children who understand the impact that their parents’ support and pressure makes on their entertainment and self-evaluation of their skills. Secondly, the study will clarify whether representatives of different generations concur with a perception of the quantity and types of parental participation and their influence on children’s affections, “ratings of child enjoyment, and ratings of child skill” (Kanters et al., 2008, p.67). Thirdly, the experiment will determine whether the degree of consensus between parents and their children corresponds with child self-reports on their affections.

Theoretical Frameworks

The self-determination theory guides the proposed investigation. It implements “the concept of innate, universal, psychological needs to understand human motivation” (Landry & Koestner, 2008, p.194). Inner stimulus and internalization influence a child’s personality. The social establishment is the core of the self-determination theory. The self-determination theory asserts that “children have an innate propensity toward mastery of their environment, and that the internalization of values, behaviors, and attitudes in the social surround is a spontaneous, natural process” (Landry & Koestner, 2008, p.194). Self-determination theory focuses on the crucial role of the social environment that can either assist or subvert child’s intrinsic motivations and internalization. Supporting or pressuring their children, parents perform motivational functions. Nevertheless, external pressure that does not coincide with a child’s inner development usually produces a detrimental effect on the child. Landry and Koestner (2008) assert that children are able to develop without any external pressure. They distinguish two concepts: autonomy support (or just parental support) and psychological control (or parental pressure). Autonomy support suggests active encouragement of children’s self-initiative and autonomy. On the contrary, psychological control (or parental pressure) decreases children’s intrinsic motivation. It creates negative types of children’s internalization. Parents can execute pressure in different forms, such as “guilt induction, love withdrawal, and invalidation of feelings” (Landry & Koestner, 2008, p.197). As a basis, the theoretical framework may use additional approaches to children’s attitudes towards suggested activities and the way that the type of parental conduct underpins these interests. Parental pressure and support may be expressed by means of nonverbal display, conditionals, minimizing, and explicitly. Nonverbal expression includes touching and making certain facial expressions. Usage of conditionals suggests such drawing certain requirements for reaching the goal, so that the undesired behavior or radical changes of the improper conduct would never occur. Minimization may consist of informing that an event or a fact does not play a significant role in the lifespan. Next, this study can implement the expectancy-valued theory. According to some modern researches, “the direct and indirect influence experienced by children is mediated by two social-cognitive constructs: outcome expectancies and efficacy expectancies” (Kanters et al., 2008, p.66).

Children’s interest in activities depends on proper satisfaction of two issues, namely the benefits of the deeds and their capacity to perform them. The first issue is the outcome expectancy. The second one is the expectancy of efficacy. According to Eccles, Wigfields, and Schiefele (as cited in Kanters et al., 2008 ,p.66), parents can affect and form their children’s attitude towards activities in two ways: providing access to different pursuits and forcing them to take part in the activities. Parents exert influence on their children’s beliefs and communication processes. Such beliefs include stereotypes and paternalism. Communication processes comprise under-accommodation and decision-making. In turn, the content of communication processes might affect beliefs.

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Medved, Brogan, McClanahan, Morris, and Shepherd suggest another approach to the problem. The researchers focus on the content and gendered nature of circulating information

Medved, Brogan, McClanahan, Morris, and Shepherd claim that parental socialization has a crucial effect on the beliefs and ideology of their children (Medved, Brogan, McClanahan, Morris, & Shepherd, 2006, p.161). According to them, a family is a social institute that contributes to development of moral values in a community. Giving advice and teaching values are the ways of transmitting information from older generations to the younger ones (Kellas, 2010, p.459). Waldron and Kelly (2005) note that forgiveness plays a crucial role in reconciliation. Merolla (2008) draws attention to the forms of forgiveness in conflict situations.

Key Concepts

The key concepts of this study are parental pressure, parental support, and children’s affection. Parental pressure denotes influencing children’s behavior by their parents who have a viewpoint on the subject different from children’s outlook. One could refer to parental support as to encouraging children by their parents with positive values and expectancies. Affections entail preferences in things or performing certain activities. This study implements perceptual approach, which allows the participants of the experiments decide whether they experience parental support or parental pressure. The participants, based on their own perception, will define affections. Experts state that “although the child’s … perceptions would appear the most important when examining children’s outcome and efficacy expectancies …, a parent’s assessment of their own involvement …may also be important”( Kellas, 2010, p.66). The process of individuals’ natural striving to take part in absorbing activities denotes the concept of intrinsic motivation. Internalization is the process of individuals’ natural striving “to integrate in their sense of self less interesting but important values and behaviors of their social environment” (Landry & Koestner, 2008, p.194).

Having determined the key concepts, we should identify and explain the independent and dependent variables.

The independent variable is the form of parental influence on their children’s affections. This variable varies based on the surveys of both parents’ and children’s self-reports. The two possible options for comparison are the parental pressure versus the parental support. The dependent variable is the children’s affections. The children’s affections are the consequences that are calculated and may be under affect of the two types of parental influence. Having determined the key concepts, along with the independent and dependent variables, research question has to be defined next.

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Subjects will be children from nine to eleven years old and one of their parents. Questionnaires will be the key diagnostic instrument. Parents and children will receive separate questionnaires, which they have to answer. The participants of the experiment will answer a set of questions concerning the parental influence and children affections and abilities. In order to address ethical concerns children will answer the questions individually and online. Nevertheless, their parents can get familiar with the questions. First, the coach instructs parents and sends them the questionnaire.  The experiment implements a Likert type scale for measuring the dependent variables. It comprises 11 questions. Six questions evaluate the parental support. Five points evaluate the parental pressure. Both children’s and parents’ viewpoints are taken into account. For example, answering one of the questions, the questionnaire asks parent to assess their support of their children in children’s leisure activities. The scale of assessment includes four points.

Research Question

Parental Pressure versus Parental support may differ significantly in terms of their affect on the amount and type of children’s fondness. Therefore, the research question formally posed for this study is as follows: Does parental pressure differ dramatically in the quality and quantity of its influence on children’s affections, as compared to the parental support?

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