A research on child development from the Clark University, titled ‘Parental Autonomy Support in Two Cultures: The Moderating Effects of Adolescents’ Self-Construals’ reached the conclusion that adolescents that have a strong self-definition, the more independent they become in making their own decisions.
Two Different Societies, A Singular Issue in Teenagers
The researchers Wendy Grolnick, Kristine N. Marbell-Pierre, Ph.D.Andrew L. Stewart and Jacquelyn Raftery-Helmer have conducted a parenting study on 401 teenagers, out of which 245 were from the US and 156 from Ghana. They wanted to see the difference between two cultures: the US – ‘anindividualist and egalitarian society’, and Ghana – ‘a collectivist and hierarchical society’.
Grolnick stated that supporting teenagers’ sense of agency is beneficial, but it is different across cultures. It seems that children from nurturing environments thrive in all cultures, encouraging them is beneficial, even though there were different manners of doing it.
According to this report that got published on the Clark University website, parents from different cultures impart positivity in their teenagers in different ways.
At the Ghana International School, Marbell-Pierre, the head of guidance and counseling says that by making the youth feel like they are heard, they will feel happier, confident and motivated. There have been some questions about this western approach in Ghana, as it was interfering with their hierarchical culture that puts respect to elders on a higher place.
Teenagers Making Their Own Decisions – Increasing Self-Worth
For the study, 401 teenagers that study in seven and eight grades, both from the US and Ghana, have been asked to fill out a few questionnaires. They were asked opinions on their freedom at home, how their parents took into consideration their points of view if they were allowed to make their own decisions, choices or express their own opinions. They were also asked how they felt about their parents’ behavior and if they were controlling.
Other questions focused on finding out the teenagers’ academic motivation, self-worth, depression, or how they perceived themselves, related to how much of these were dependent or independent from their parents’ point of view. The study also helped the researchers understand how teens think of their own parents.
Adolescents’ Feel Undermined When Their Perspective isn’t Valued
The study concluded with a report that shows that teens in Ghana do not feel controlled by parents, and are not negatively affected by it, because the country has a hierarchy value that has been long respected. However, most them admitted that they feel undermined when their perspective is not valued.The US teenagers were more affected by ‘parental controllingness’.
Connected with these results, the researchers also pointed out that the different responses in the two groups of teenagers should help parents to find a way to motivate and adjust their children through an autonomy-supportive behavior.