Adolescents' Perceptions of the Democratic Functioning in their Families
SourceEuropean Psychologist, 16, 1, (2011), pp. 32-42
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI ON
Democratic family functioning has traditionally been interpreted as effects of parenting, leaving little room for the adolescent in shaping the democratic climate. Here we argued that an understanding of the democratic family functioning has to involve both adolescent and parental behaviors. We hypothesized that parental openness and fair treatment, and adolescent openness, each uniquely predict changes in democratic family functioning. Also, we argued that family functioning constellations characterized by parental openness and fair treatment, and adolescent openness, should be the constellations adolescents experience as democratic, and where parents know much about their adolescents' whereabouts outside home. We used a longitudinal study following a group of 13-15-year-old adolescents (N = 527) over 2 years. Results using variable-oriented methods confirmed that both adolescent and parental behaviors were prospectively linked to adolescents' perceptions of the democratic family climate. Person-oriented methods showed that adolescents perceived a highly democratic family climate, and that parents' knowledge was highest, in families characterized by both parental and adolescent openness and parental fair treatment. Over-time changes in family functioning corresponded to changes in parental knowledge and adolescents' perceptions of democratic family functioning. We conclude that conceptions of the democratic functioning of the family have to include the behaviors of both parents and adolescents, and that mutual responsivity is a marker of the democratic family functioning.
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