Home » News » Parenting » Parental Expectations Affect College Students Identity

Parental Expectations Affect College Students Identity

StudentParents typically desire for their children to succeed in life as measured by academic then professional success.

However, a new study finds that student anxieties over a perceived failure to perform up to parental expectations can harm self-esteem and make it more difficult to adjust to school.

For example, “Mom and Dad are going to flip out over my 3.3 GPA and failure to land a top internship.”

A new University of Central Florida study has found that students’ anxieties often are based on exaggerated perceptions of what their parents expect.

The problem, UCF psychologist Kimberly Renk says, is that many parents and students hold different perceptions of what the parents’ expectations are. Students often are trying to meet goals far tougher than the ideals their parents have in mind.

The study, which involved surveys of 174 students and 230 of their parents, is published online in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence and is scheduled for the September edition.

A separate study by Renk — published this summer in the Journal of Family Issues — is among the first to examine how parenting styles remain a strong influence on how students adjust to college. Students reported making smoother transitions to college if they have at least one parent whose style combines warmth, a demanding nature and democracy — the same combination that is best for young children.

Renk, the mother of a kindergartner and an infant, directs UCF’s Understanding Children and Families laboratory, which seeks to better the lives of children and their families through research, clinical work and community service.

She said parents’ influences on college students may be growing at a time when cell phones and other technology make it easier for students to stay connected with and rely on their parents.

“Many people still assume that parenting ends when a child turns 18, but in our culture today, there is a longer extension of adolescence,” Renk said. “Adulthood is starting later.”

Renk and then-UCF doctoral student Allison Kanter Agliata began their study of parental expectations by surveying 174 freshmen and sophomores. With the students’ permission, they then collected 138 surveys from mothers and 92 from fathers. Questions focused on perceptions of personal maturity, academic achievement and dating. Other questions covered how well parents and students thought they communicate with each other.

While most students were meeting or exceeding their parents’ expectations, many still thought they were falling short, and those students reported lower self-worth and more trouble adjusting to college.

In light of that finding, Renk recommends that schools and universities teach assertive communication skills to parents and students to help them avoid unnecessary stress about expectations.

In the second study, Renk and then-doctoral student Cliff McKinney found that students who perceive that they have at least one authoritative parent – someone whose style combines warmth, a demanding nature and democracy – adjust better to college than students whose parenting styles are too authoritarian, permissive or neglectful.

Several studies by Renk and other researchers have shown the benefits of authoritative parenting for younger children.

For parents who may be concerned that they have been too permissive or too authoritarian, it’s not too late to change, Renk said. She added that it takes time for parents to change their styles and that they should not give up if they fail at first.

“Everything is not lost if you are the parent of a college student and trying to do a better job,” she said. “If you are open and ready to listen to what they have to say, that will help you build a stronger relationship.”

Source: University of Central Florida

Parental Expectations Affect College Students Identity

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Parental Expectations Affect College Students Identity. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/08/21/parental-expectations-affect-college-students-identity/2797.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.