Home » News » Relationships » Sexuality » Harsh Parenting Can Hurt Academics and Peer Relationships
Harsh Parenting Can Hurt Academics and Peer Relationships

Harsh Parenting Can Hurt Academics and Peer Relationships

A new study helps to explain how parenting affects children’s educational outcomes via relationships with peers, sexual behavior, and delinquency.

Children exposed to harsh parenting are at greater risk of having poor school outcomes.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh discovered that both direct and indirect effects of parenting play a role in shaping children’s behavior, as well as their relationships with peers.

The study appears in the journal Child Development.

“We believe our study is the first to use children’s life histories as a framework to examine how parenting affects children’s educational outcomes,” notes Rochelle F. Hentges, who led the study.

“In our study, harsh parenting was related to lower educational attainment through a set of complex cascading processes that emphasized present-oriented behaviors at the cost of future-oriented educational goals.”

Harsh parenting was defined as yelling, hitting, and engaging in coercive behaviors like verbal or physical threats as a means of punishment.

The researchers looked at youth who were part of the Maryland Adolescent Development in Context Study, which examined the influences of social contexts on adolescents’ academic and psychosocial development.

This ongoing longitudinal study in a large county near Washington, D.C., included 1,482 students, who were followed over nine years, beginning in seventh grade and ending three years after students’ expected high school graduation.

By the end of the study, 1,060 students remained. The participants reflected a broad range of racial, socioeconomic, and geographic backgrounds. Participants reported on their parents’ use of physical and verbal aggression, as well as their own interactions with peers, delinquency, and sexual behavior.

Markers of over-reliance on peers included deciding to spend time with friends instead of doing homework and feeling like it’s okay to break rules to keep friends. When participants were 21, they reported on their highest level of educational attainment.

Researchers found that students who were parented harshly in seventh grade were more likely in ninth grade to say their peer group was more important than other responsibilities, including following parents’ rules.

This in turn led them to engage in more risky behaviors in eleventh grade, including more frequent early sexual behavior in females and greater delinquency (e.g., hitting, stealing) in males.

These behaviors led to low educational achievement (as assessed by years of school completed) three years after high school, meaning that youth who were parented harshly were more likely to drop out of high school or college.

Parenting influenced educational outcomes even after accounting for socioeconomic status, standardized test scores, grade point average, and educational values.

“Youth whose needs aren’t met by their primary attachment figures may seek validation from peers,” explains Hentges.

“This may include turning to peers in unhealthy ways, which may lead to increased aggression and delinquency, as well as early sexual behavior at the expense of long-term goals such as education.”

The study’s findings have implications for prevention and intervention programs aimed at increasing students’ engagement in school and boosting graduation rates.

“Since children who are exposed to harsh and aggressive parenting are susceptible to lower educational attainment, they could be targeted for intervention,” suggests Ming-Te Wang, associate professor of psychology in education at the University of Pittsburgh, who coauthored the study.

Programs dealing with unhealthy peer relationships, delinquency, and sexual behaviors may also play a role in increasing educational attainment, the authors note.

And teaching methods that focus on present-oriented goals and strategies (e.g., hands-on experimental learning, group activities) may promote learning and educational goals for individuals, especially those who are parented harshly.

Source: Society for Research in Child Development/EurekAlert
 
Parents angry at son photo by shutterstock.

Harsh Parenting Can Hurt Academics and Peer Relationships

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. (2017). Harsh Parenting Can Hurt Academics and Peer Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 25, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2017/02/09/harsh-parenting-can-hurt-academics-and-peer-relationships/116246.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 9 Feb 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Feb 2017
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.