Skills learnt as a child extends into Adulthood

25_babycomputerParenting styles adopted by parents while raising their children and the associated parent-child bond formed have long, strong, and lasting effects on the children’s adult relationships (Roisman, Collins, Sroufe, & Egeland, 2005). Research also indicates that the pattern of interactions that parents adopt with their child can influence the child’s later development (Seiffge-Krenke, Shulman, & Klessinger, 2001). Accounts of parenting during adolescence and outcomes for emerging adults have shown that emerging adult children exhibited more positive function when they experienced positive parenting in childhood and adolescence (Smits, Soenens, Luyckx, Duriez, Berzonsky, & Goossens, 2008).

Social learning theory (Bandura, 1977) suggests that children are likely to create mental models of their experiences with their primary care givers; hence peer relationships are likely to be stronger when the parent-child relationship is warm and secure.  Thus, higher quality friendships can be promoted by allowing the children to observe positive, intimate relationship models, and a positive mother-child relationship (Lucas-Thompson & Clarke-Stewart, 2007).  Children learn social interaction strategies through both parental modeling, as well as learning the formation of social expectations (Lucas-Thompson & Clarke-Stewart, 2007).  Additionally, according to Miller, S., Tserakhava and Miller,C. (2011) social skill development is shaped by the interaction between biological characteristics, such as shyness, and the contexts in which such characteristics are expressed.  For instance, parental reaction to shyness may either exacerbate or minimize typical outcomes associated with shyness, such as peer exclusion.  Over protective parenting in such instances could discourage a child’s independence and undermine their development of necessary coping strategies, and thus maintains or exacerbate the social wariness (Rubin and Burgess 2002).

In a study performed by Tubman and Lerner (1994) using 129 participants from the New York Longitudinal Study (NYLS) sample (Thomas & Chess, 1977), they gathered data through interviews and self report questionnaires from participants and their parents, respectively.  The data gathered focused on the affective experiences in terms of emotional quality and interactional quantity.  Data was gathered at three different stages – when the participants were at ages 16-17, 18-23, and 25-31.  They concluded that the levels of involvement, warmth, support, and acceptance in earlier years shaped emerging adult’s individuation, psychological adjustment, and healthy relationship.  While the research serves as some empirical proof that experiences from parenting do carry forward into adulthood, it falls short on establishing any links to the different parenting styles and if parenting has any relationship with the quality of social relationship experienced in young adulthood.

Identity exploration and commitment

Using Erikson’s theory, Romano (2004) explained that as toddlers develop into individuals with the willpower to choose and guide their futures, they search for continuity and sameness.  At adolescence, they attempt to bridge the morality learned in childhood with personal aptitudes and the opportunities provided for in social roles.  The components of authoritative parenting, mainly warmth, firmness, and psychological autonomy granting, corresponds to Erickson’s first three stages of psychosocial development of – Basic Trust versus Basic Mistrust (trust is created in providing sensitive care of individual needs), Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt (firmness serves as a protective factor against meaningless and arbitrary experiences of shame and early doubt), and Initiative versus Guilt (the autonomy granting component that gives a sense of ambition and purpose).  As such parents who actively promote self-expression, the acceptance of unique viewpoints, and a respect for others’ perspectives can positively impact identity exploration and commitment. Hence, parents who actively promote self-expression, the acceptance of unique viewpoints, and a respect for others’ perspectives can positively impact identity exploration and commitment.

Such explorations afford adolescents with identity development, firm commitments to specific morals, viewpoints, and aspirations in life (Erikson, 1968).  Parents can either promote of retard the process through their parenting interactions (Adams, Dyk, & Bennion, 1990).

Life course influence of parental attachment

According to Santrock (2009), as a child matures, both biological and environmental influence plays apart over his/her development.  Adolescents will encounter biological changes, new experiences, and new developmental tasks, in their many hours of interactions with parents, peers, and teachers.  Their push for more autonomy and responsibility can anger and puzzle parents.  As peer relationships develop to become more intimate, dating occurs for the first time, as do sexual exploration and possible intercourse.  Research indicates that the pattern of interactions that parents adopt with their child can influence the child’s later development (Seiffge-Krenke, Shulman, & Klessinger, 2001).  Particularly, parenting styles adopted by parents while raising their children and the associated parent-child bond that was formed, have long, strong, and lasting effects on the children’s adult relationships (Roisman, Collins, Sroufe, & Egeland, 2005).

The framework provided by attachment theory is excellent for explaining the processing of social information across the life span, which has been substantiated by a number of studies (Dykas & Cassidy, 2011).  According to the Bowlby’s (as cited in Engles, et al. 2001) attachment theory, our earliest dealings with our primary caregiver become internalized as working models, which serves to guide our social behaviors and expectations across the life span.  For example, children create “working models” of their relationship with their parents to serve as guidelines for future close relationships that include both friendships and romantic relationships.  These set of guidelines are created based on the patterns of caregiver responses to their requests and needs.  A secure working model is described by a basic sense of trust that others are dependable and available, particularly during periods of stress (Anders & Tucker, 2000).  Secure prototypes for comprehending future close relationships are afforded by sensitive and responsive attachment figures in childhood (Griffith, 2004).  Securely attached children tend to exhibit greater autonomy and more effective communication in the parent-child relationship and are easily soothed after separation (Nosko, Tieu, Lawford & Pratt, 2011).  Parents who provide children with a secure attachment relationship also leave them with the assurance that they are trustworthy and worthy of being loved and cared for (as cited in Engles et al. 2001).  These children are likely to become more self-confident and healthy adolescents, as they mature (as cited in Engles et al. 2001).  Mothers remain important attachment figures all through adolescence and into adulthood; they fulfill the secure base function of attachment (Markiewicz et al.  2006).

Accounts of parenting during adolescence and outcomes for emerging adults have shown that emerging adult children exhibited more positive function when they experienced positive parenting in childhood and adolescence (Smits, Soenens, Luyckx, Duriez, Berzonsky, & Goossens, 2008).  Longitudinal studies have also shown that children of authoritative parents are associated with positive outcomes when they mature to become emerging adults, including areas of competence, resilience (Masten, Burt, Roisman, Obradovic, Long, & Tellegen, 2004), self-esteem and self actualization (Buri, Louiselle, & Misukanis, 1988).  Additionally, the levels of involvement, warmth, support, and acceptance in earlier years shaped emerging adult’s individuation, psychological adjustment, and healthy relationship (Tubman and Lerner 1994).

Attachment theory describes that the emotional connection infants and toddlers make with their primary caregivers forms the model for later peer relationship, particularly in late adolescents or early adulthood (Brown & Bakken, 2011).  Warmth/responsiveness and control remain core components in the parent-child relationship; and in relation to the outcomes in emerging adulthood (Nelson et al. 2011).  High quality parent-child relationship promotes positive child outcomes during emerging adulthood (Darling & Steinberg, 1993).

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