Parents’ Roles in Guiding Children’s Educational, Religious, and Other Trajectories

George W. Holden, Duaa Bayan, Jonali Baruah, Grant W. O. Holland


Although socialization efforts by parents have long been studied, the specific influence techniques parents adopt
in promoting positive developmental trajectories have gone largely neglected by researchers. To investigate
parental influence in supporting children’s development in different domains we sampled 15 developmental
trajectories, ranging from education and religion to cooking and the environment. Two methods of parental
influence were targeted: guidance and pressure. Mothers’ and fathers’ reported behaviors associated with
promotion of two trajectories--educational and religious--were also assessed. We predicted that parental
guidance in those two domains would have a greater association with their children’s values than parental
pressure. Three hundred undergraduates filled out an on-line survey. Domain-specific influence was found:
parents reportedly provided most guidance in the educational and family trajectories and the least in the artistic
and environmental trajectories. Mothers were reported to provide more guidance than fathers but there was no
main effect for sex of student. Guidance and pressure were correlated with the frequency of particular parenting
practices. In regression analyses, parental guidance, pressure, and practices were used as predictors of youth
values. None of these variables predicted students’ educational values. However, maternal guidance was a
significant predictor of youth valuing religion. Implications are discussed.

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Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology   ISSN 1927-0526 (Print)   ISSN 1927-0534 (Online)

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