Parental Expectations - Intercultural Perspectives and Parents of Children with a Mental Disorder

Jeder hat eine Menge Situationen erlebt in denen er oder sie bestimmte Erwartungen daran hatte, was passieren könnte oder wie andere Menschen sich verhalten werden. Dies gilt in besonderem Maße für Eltern, da jeder der Kinder hat auch gewisse Erwartungen über deren Leben und Verhalten hat, oder zumi...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Ebeling, Markus
Contributors: Pinquart, Martin (Prof.Dr.) (Thesis advisor)
Format: Doctoral Thesis
Published: Philipps-Universität Marburg 2020
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Everybody has experienced situations where he or she had expectations of what might happen or how others will behave. This is especially true for parents, as everyone with children has expectations for their child’s life and behavior, or at least some hopes (Irwin & Elley, 2013). In general, expectations help us anticipate situations and be better prepared to react and adjust (Landis, Bennett, & Bennett, 2003). Up until now, knowledge was limited about how these expectations form, what influences them and how they interact with behavior, but there have been different approaches to studying this. A famous early model dealing with this topic is the theory of reasoned action (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975), which was later refined into the theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1985). In this theory, the expectation of being able to show the intended behavior is one of the key-components. Another well-known model is the expectancy-value model of achievement motivation (Eccles et al., 1983), which states, an action is only taken if the expectation to achieve what is intended with such behavior is high enough. Different aspects named in the two previous models, as well as in following models have been suggested to influence the formation of expectations, like prior experience, cultural background and personal values (Nauck & Klaus, 2007; Rief et al., 2015). So, expectations seem to play a major role in several aspects of life, and there have been confirming studies regarding associations between parental expectations and social behavior (Ohene, 2006; Padilla-Walker & Carlo, 2007), peer relations (Gurland & Grolnick, 2008) and academic achievement (Yamamoto & Holloway, 2010) of their child. While associations between parental expectations and children’s behavior are known to exist, little is known about intercultural differences regarding parental expectations, parents of healthy children and parents of children with mental health issues. (Almroth, László, Kosidou, & Galanti, 2019; Eisen, Spasaro, Brien, Kearney, & Albano, 2004; Kortlander, Kendall, & Panichelli-Mindel, 1997). Nonetheless, in all of these studies the momentary actual status seems to have an influence on the expectations. The same applies to social norms, which are also present and serve as a baseline against which parents compare their own child. This doctoral thesis aimed to narrow the gap in knowledge by examining and comparing parental expectations of German and Chinese parents (study 1). By analyzing data from 421 parents, we found these expectations to be at the same high levels in both groups, but expectations regarding academic achievement and emotion regulation were higher in Chinese parents. This leads to the assumption that culture indeed has an impact on the formation of expectations, which is also true for parental expectations regarding their child. In the second study, we were analyzing the effects of parental expectations on children’s academic achievement and vice versa, which is by far the best-researched area regarding parental expectations. Therefore, we collected all available studies to conduct a meta-analysis (133 studies, 437,328 parents) on this topic. Results showed parental expectations and the academic achievement of the child had a reciprocal effect. Still, the effect of expectations on achievement was larger than the achievement effect. When looking at comparisons between parents of 214 healthy and 50 mentally ill children in study 3, we found between-group differences in levels of expectation on every scale, showing that having a child with a mental disorder is associated with lowered expectations. We could barely find the actual behavior shown by the child as a mediating factor, which might be due to small sample size. We also found the dispositional flexibility and tenacity of the parent to be associated with the level of parental expectations in the direction that higher tenacity, as well as higher flexibility were associated with higher expectations. The results of this dissertation show that the assumed factors of cultural background and previous experience in the school context, as well as in the context of mental health, are relevant for building and revising parental expectations. Results of the second study also show the importance of parental expectations, as they have an impact on the outcome of a child and thus are specific factors to be addressed in parent-teacher communication, just like in parent-therapist communication.