Parental influence on the educational expectations of high school students: A role identity model.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractStatus attainment research has shown that there is a positive association between the educational expectations of parents and their children. Survey data from a nationwide sample of families was used to examine the effects of social structural conditions and patterns of family interaction on parent-child agreement on educational expectations, an indicator of parents' ability to influence their child's expectations. Agreement was hypothesized to be greatest in white families, in families where parents had high levels of education, and among parents and daughters. Empirical results showed that girls were more likely than boys to have expectations above those of their parents. Parents with at least four years of college were more likely to agree than less educated parents. Minority adolescents were also less likely to agree; this effect was not explained by racial differences in parents' education. The quantity and quality of parental defining behaviors, or effort, were also expected to be positively related to agreement. Concrete forms of parental effort fulfilled these expectations. The greater efforts of well educated parents and parents of daughters helped to explain gender and class differences in agreement. Despite minority parents' greater efforts, their children remained less likely to agree. Alienated adolescents were predicted to be more likely to have expectations below those of their parents. Adolescents whose extra-familial roles were more salient than their familial roles were also expected to be less likely to agree. Both hypotheses were supported. This study contributes to status attainment research by showing how social psychological and social structural factors jointly affect a crucial link in the process: parent-child agreement on educational expectations. Future research should seek to disentangle the effects of these processes, and explain why persistent race differences in agreement exist.