How does parental provision of structure impact the development of 12- to 14-year-old youth’s competence, achievement, and adjustment among European-American and Latino families? Through a sequential mixed-method, two-wave (before and after the transition) longitudinal study, the investigators are examining the relationship between parental structure and competence, adjustment, and achievement over the transition to junior high school and the influence of culture on these parenting practices. The researchers are measuring six components of structure, including communication of rules and expectations, opportunities to meet or exceed expectations, consistency, feedback on meeting rules and expectations, rationales for rules and expectations, and ultimate authority. In addition, how parents implement structure—in an autonomy supportive or more controlling manner—was measured. Structure and how it is implemented was examined across three domains relevant to young adolescents: homework and studying, unsupervised time, and household responsibilities. Volunteers for the study are 200 Worcester, Massachusetts-area sixth and seventh grade students from primarily low-income schools and their mothers (mainly European-American and Latino). Initial findings affirm the importance of parental structure. Children whose parents provided more structure during unsupervised time felt more competent in managing unsupervised time and more in control of their outcomes. Children of parents who implemented structure in a more autonomy supportive manner felt more competent and were more engaged in the academics and responsibilities domains. In addition, higher levels of structure were associated with smaller decreases in motivation across the transition to middle school. Additionally, parental structure that allowed youth input in the sixth grade was associated with increases in perceptions of competence across the transition, which in turn predicted increases in English grades.
How does parental provision of structure impact the development of 12- to 14-year-old youth’s competence, achievement, and adjustment among European-American and Latino families?