The three primary parenting styles are Permissive, Authoritarian, and Authoritative developed by Baumrind (1971). Parenting styles are groupings of behaviors that parents elicit to deal with their children. The purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between parenting style and individuals perceptions of the motivational climate initiated by mothers and fathers in the learning and performance of physical skills. The instruments used in this study are the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ) and Parent-Initiated Motivational Climate Questionnaire-2 (PIMCQ-2). The PAQ consists of 30 statements, ten statements describe behaviors representative of authoritative parenting, ten of authoritarian parenting, and ten of permissive parenting. The PIMCQ-2 is a 36-item questionnaire containing three subscales: Learning/Enjoyment Climate, Worry Conductive Climate, and Success Without Effort Climate. This study will investigate a relationship between parental style and perceived motivational climate of parents. Specifically, if the authoritative parental style is more conducive to a perceived learning enjoyment climate initiated by the parents in the learning and performance of skills.
Parents play a significant role in the development of their children’s attitudes and behaviors towards sports, but studies on the influence of parental style are rare. Many studies have been conducted on parental involvement in sports, but they are mostly limited to the overall level of parental involvement. De Knop, Buisman, De Haan, Van Iersel, Horvers, Vloet (1998) researched Parental Participation In Their Children’s Sports Clubs. They concluded that 53%, of the 76% of clubs and teams surveyed who were not pleased with the level of involvement, the way in which the parents were involved. An aspect that needs further examination is, to what extents does the nature of parental style and involvement lead to an individuals perceptions of the motivational climate initiated be a mother and father in the enjoyment of sports participation? This study will investigate a relationship between parental style and perceived motivational climate of parents. Specifically, if the authoritative parental style is more conducive to a perceived learning enjoyment climate initiated by the parents in the learning and performance of skills.
De Knop, Buisman, De Haan, Van Iersel, Horvers, Vloet (1998) conducted a primary research study, investigating parent’s involvement in the sports clubs of their children. In addition De Knop and his colleagues explored whether these sports clubs are satisfied with the way in which the parents are involved. From the clubs that returned the questionnaire, 76.7% were not pleased with the number of parents involved in the sports clubs. Further, 53% of the respondents reported they were not happy with the way in which parents were involved (De Knop, Buisman, De Haan, Van Iersel, Horvers, Vloet 1998).
De Knop (1992) distinguished “problem parents” as five types of parents; uninterested parents, overcritical parents, parents yelling from the sideline, coaching from the sideline, and over concerned parents. An uninterested parent is one who is never present at the sporting activity or is aloof and unresponsive as well. Overcritical parents are never satisfied with the achievements of their child or the method of coaching. Parents yelling from the sidelines are always in close proximity to children and often shout louder than coaches. Coaching from the sidelines describes parents who give instructions during the game. They may contradict the directions of the coach, which can cause confusion for the child. Over concerned parents are usually afraid of the dangers of sport and threaten to take their child out of the sport. Parents, often times, do not realize how much their behavior and interaction with a club can influence the enjoyment level of their child.
De Knop’s (1992) five types of problem parents, uninterested parents, overcritical parents, parents yelling from the sideline, coaching from the sideline, and over concerned parents, parallel the parenting behaviors that need more research. The nature of parental involvement is more important than the overall amount or level to which a parent is involved. Woolger and Power (1993) came to this conclusion. Research on achievement in other context has demonstrated that the nature of parental involvement is much more important than undifferentiated measures of the overall amount (Clark-Stewart, 1977, cited in Woolger & Power, 1993).
Stein, Raedeke, Glenn (1999) conducted research on Children’s Perceptions of Parent Sport Involvement. Parental involvement was defined as the time, energy, and money parents invest in their child’s sport participation, and includes aspects such as providing transportation, attending practices and games, providing instructional assistance, and purchasing equipment. Through their involvement, parents can help create feelings of enjoyment by providing support and encouragement, or they can be a source of stress and anxiety by placing excessive pressure on a child (Stein, Raedeke, Glenn, 1999). In the sport domain, Hellstedt (1987) suggests that moderate parental involvement is ideal and enables parents to provide support for their child’s sport participation. In contrast, both low and high parental involvement typically create a less optimal environment which is likely to increase stress and reduce enjoyment associated with sport participation.
A rather small number of studies on parental style and its influences in sport enjoyment, literature on parenting and achievement in the academic area is voluminous (Woolger & Power, 1993). Woolger and Power (1993), discuss how research on parental influences identify five dimensions of parental behavior that appear to be important: acceptance, modeling, performance expectations, rewards/punishment, and directiveness. In spite of the general consensus that parental acceptance is positively related to children’s self-esteem, competence, and achievement, important distinctions relevant to the sports domain have yet to be investigated (Woolger & Power, 1993).
Butcher, Lindner, Koenraad, and Johns (2002) conducted a study titled, Withdrawal from Competitive Youth Sports. This was a ten-year study that provided a description of the extent, context, and timing of withdrawal from youth competitive sports that addressed the sport-specific versus permanent dropout question. Butcher, Lindner, Koenraad, and Johns (2002) believed that understanding withdrawal reasons could be further enhanced by knowledge of what motivates children and adolescents to participate in sports. They highlighted three major motives for participation: the desire to develop and demonstrate physical competence, gaining social acceptance and support from peers and significant adults including parents, and fun/enjoyment. Butcher, Lindner, Koenraad, and Johns (2002) concluded that elite competitors primary reasons for withdrawing were: too much pressure to perform well, injury, needing time for studying, and the coach. An interesting aspect about this conclusion is that it highlighted acceptance and support from peers and significant adults including parents as a reason for participating in sports. In addition, it concluded that one of the four main reasons for withdrawal was too much pressure to perform well. Further investigation of where the pressure to perform well originates is important. Parental pressure may be a major reason for an adolescent to withdraw from sports. This may create unwelcome tension in the parent-child relationships and could create long-term problems.
The sparse literature on sport socialization of children suggests that the family in general, and parents in particular, are instrumental in determining children’s sport involvement (Greendorfer and Lewko (1978). The results of the Greendorfer and Lewko (1978) study identified the father as a major socializing agent for both sexes. This study also found the father to be a major socializing agent. Further investigation into the nature of parental involvement, attitudes and behaviors, place parental pressure on the child that may influence an adolescent’s enjoyment of sports or obstruct their enjoyment of a sport.
Parental style is a concept introduced by Baumrind (1971) that may prove valuable in the investigation of healthy parental involvement in the sports domain. Baumrind (1971) described three distinct prototypes of parental authority permissiveness, authoritarianism, and authoritativeness. These permissive parents are relatively non-controlling and seldom use any form of punishment to control their children. Permissive parents tend to make fewer demands on their children than other parents, allowing them to regulate their own activities as much as possible (Baumrind, 1971). Authoritarian parents tend to be very strict and rigid by setting rules for acceptable behavior. Authoritarians value unquestioning obedience in their exercise of authority over their children, tend to be detached and less warm than other parents, discourage verbal give-and-take between child and parent, and favor punitive measures to control their children’s behaviors.
Authoritative parenting style is a combination between the two extremes. They are characterized as providing clear and firm directions for their children, but disciplinary clarity is moderated by warmth, reason, flexibility, and verbal give-and-take (Baumrind, 1971). Constant verbal give-and-take is an important attribute of the authoritative parenting style. It enhances communication between parent and child by encouraging the child to form their own thoughts and beliefs about a situation. Authoritative parents value individual thoughts and concerns of their children and work to form a mutual agreement if a conflict arises.
It is important to remember that what is perceived by one individual as “too much” may be “just right” for another. This concept may also be true when describing parental styles. A permissive parent may fall into the “uninterested parent” category described be De Knop (1992). This is a parent who rarely, or even never is present at a sporting activity. Their involvement level may only include driving to and from practices or games and purchasing the equipment needed in order to participate. This may create stress and anxiety for the individual because no support or encouragement is provided. A permissive parent may induce a perceived success without effort climate by the child. The parent may look satisfied and say it is important to win without trying hard. Since the parent has a minimal involvement level, they may believe that their child should achieve a lot without much effort, telling the child he/she should be satisfied if they achieve without trying hard.
An authoritarian parent who is involved in his/her child’s sport activities may be a source of stress and anxiety if their actions are perceived as inappropriate. Authoritarians value unquestioning obedience, tend to be very strict and rigid setting rules for behavior, are less warm, and favor punitive measures for controlling behavior. If this type of parent is highly involved in their child’s sport activities it may be a major source of stress and anxiety to the child. They may be described as an “overcritical parent” because they are very strict and rigid by setting rules that they demand be followed. Overcritical parents are never satisfied with the achievements of their child or the method of coaching. They may believe that their child is the best athlete on the field and are not satisfied unless they win.
Pressure to perform well has been proven to be a source of stress and anxiety for an individual. Butcher, Linder, Koenraad, and Johns (2002) concluded that one of the four main reasons for withdrawal from sports was too much pressure to perform well. The authoritarian parenting style may induce a worry-conducive motivational climate. This type of motivational climate initiated by a parent makes a child worried about failing because doing so will appear negative in their eyes. This prototype makes a child worried about making mistakes, about performing skills they are not good at, and makes a child feel badly when they cannot do as well as others.
Authoritative parenting style seems to be the best fit to facilitate a learning enjoyment atmosphere perceived be a child. It is a healthy combination of both the permissive and authoritarian parenting styles. Authoritative parents incorporate the five dimensions of parental behavior that appear to be important: acceptance, modeling, performance expectations, rewards/punishment, and directiveness, as described by Woolger and Power (1993). Perceived parent initiated learning/enjoyment motivational climate is described as parents who pay special attention to whether a child is improving their skills and is most satisfied when something new is learned. This prototype believes enjoyment is very important in developing new skills and is satisfied when improvement is due to hard work. The parent encourages the child to enjoy learning new skills and tells them that making mistakes are part of learning. Authoritative parents constantly engage in verbal give and take between themselves and their child, creating a balance for which positive and negative criticism can be communicated.
Since the majority of studies have been conducted on parental involvement in sports and are mostly based on the level of involvement by the parent, it may be valuable to investigate the individual’s perception of the motivational climate initiated by mothers and fathers in the performance and involvement of sports activities. Certain behaviors and actions on behalf of the parent may strongly influence the enjoyment level of their children. Woolger and Power (1993), identified five dimensions of parental behavior that have been shown to be important in other context of achievement but important distinctions relevant to the sports domain have yet to be investigated. Allen (2003) reported that social sources of positive and negative affect such as social recognition and parental pressure are reasons that motivate youths in sports. Butcher, Lindner, Koenraad and Johns (2002) concluded that a major reason for adolescent withdrawal from competitive youth sports is due to excessive pressure to perform well. While these studies have been successful, additional investigation into the nature of constructive parental involvement is needed.
Participants were taken from the subject pool at Saint Anselm College, a small catholic liberal arts college located in the Northeast. To be eligible for the study each participant is required to have participated in a high school, varsity or junior varsity level sport for at least one year. The majority of students was freshman in college, and participated in the study as a requirement of the psychology department. The sample size will be at least forty participants, and will be divided as much as possible between male and female subjects.
The procedure for this study involves informing participants what the study consists of, so that informed consent is given. The subjects were informed they may drop out of the study at any time and they have no obligation to complete the study if they do not wish to. Next, two questionnaires will be handed to the subjects in a quiet classroom. The subjects were requested to answer all questions as honest as is possible. First, the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ) was given to the participants, next, the Parent-Initiated Motivational Climate Questionnaire-2 (PIMCQ-2). Then participants were asked to complete a demographic information sheet to gain basic information about the sample (i.e., age, gender, and number of years participating in sport at the high school level, were participants satisfied with their mother/father involvement in their sport experience). Lastly, at the conclusion of the questionnaires a debriefing statement was given to each participant, explaining a general overview of the study.
Two surveys will be used in the current study; the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ), and the Parent-Initiated Motivational Climate Questionnaire-2 (PIMCQ-2). The PAQ consists of 30 statements about each parent. A 5-point likert type scale with 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree is used to record responses. Ten statements describe behaviors representative of authoritative parenting, ten of authoritarian parenting, and ten of permissive parenting. Test-retest reliability estimates were r = .78 for mother’s authoritativeness, r = .86 for mother’s authoritarianism, r = .81 for mother’s permissiveness, r = .92 for father’s authoritativeness, r = .85 for father’s authoritarianism, and r = .77 for father’s permissiveness (Buri, 1991).
The PIMCQ-2 is a 36-item questionnaire containing three subscales: Learning/Enjoyment Climate, Worry Conductive Climate, and Success Without Effort Climate. For 18-items, subjects respond to the stem, “I feel that my father…..” and for the other 18-items individuals respond to the stem, “I feel that my mother…..”. A 5-point Likert type scale with 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree is used to record responses. Both total sample and age group alpha reliability were calculated, the coefficients were; Learning/Enjoyment = .92, Worry Conducive Climate = .90, and Success Without Effort Climate = .84 (White, & Duda, 1996).
The PAQ will give information pertaining to the parental style in which the individual has been subject too. The PIMCQ-2 will assess the individual’s perceptions of the motivational climate initiated by mother’s and father’s in the learning and performance of physical skills.
Initially, no significance was found between parental style and perceived motivational climate. Upon further investigation significance was found between permissive and authoritative parenting styles and participants who scored high and low in the worry-conducive climate. The scores in the perceived worry-conducive climate of fathers were separated into high and low groups. The high group consisted of the top 8 scores, ranging from 19 to 24, and the low group consisted of the bottom 8 scores, ranging from 8-14, omitting the middle scores.
Table 1 Independent Sample Test for high/low scores
in the perceived Worry-Conducive Climate
The scores related to perceived learning/enjoyment climate of mother ranged from a low of 27 to a maximum score of 45. The scores related to perceived success without effort climate of mothers ranged from a low of 5 to a maximum of 12. The scores related to perceived worry-conducive climate of mothers ranged from a low of 6 to a maximum of 18. The scores related to perceived learning enjoyment climate of fathers ranged from a low of 25 to a maximum of 45. The scores related to perceived success without effort climate of fathers ranged from a low of 4 to a maximum of 15. The scores related to perceived worry-conducive climate of fathers ranged from a low of 8 to a maximum of 24.
The results did not support the hypothesis that the authoritative parental style is more conducive to a perceived learning enjoyment climate initiated by the parents in the learning and performance of skills. Although this is a disappointment, the data did reveal a statistical significant relationship between participants who scored high and low on perceived worry-conducive climate of fathers and the permissive and authoritative parenting style of fathers. It was believed that an authoritarian parental type would have induced a perceived worry-conducive motivational climate but the data did not support this belief. Several aspects if the study that were not controlled for by the experimenter may have caused these results.
One aspect not controlled for was the sample size, 25 participants consisting of 12 male and 13 female. The current study had almost perfect distribution between the sexes, but due to time constraints only a small number of participants completed the study. A new study with a larger sample size may prove beneficial because it is obvious that a relationship does exist between parental style and perceived parent initiated motivational climate. It is not the overall level of parent involvement that needs to be further investigated, it is the child’s perception of that involvement whether it is too little, just right, or too much.
Stein, Raedeke, and Glenn (1999) researched, Children’s perceptions of parent sport involvement, concluding that children’s perceptions of their mothers’ and fathers’ involvement levels are not as critical in creating enjoyment or stress as perceptions of whether that involvement is too low, just right, or too high. Clarifying how parent involvement impacts a child’s sport experience requires more than just examining the involvement level. Involvement level is neither inherently positive nor negative, but has a qualitative aspect that is subject to a particular athlete’s evaluation (Stein, Raedeke, Glenn, 1999). It is subject to each particular individual because what might be perceived as too much by one athlete could be considered just right for another. Each parental style incorporates some level of involvement and interaction with the child. A permissive parent tends to stand back allowing the child to regulate their own activities, whereas authoritarian parents tend to be very strict and rigid by setting rules for acceptable behavior. When evaluating parental style and involvement level in the sport domain researchers must attend to the fact that authoritarian parents are not always highly involved. Authoritarian parents can also be minimally involved creating high levels of stress and anxiety for the child.
In the sport domain, Hellstedt (1987) suggests that moderate parental involvement is ideal and enables parents to provide support for their child’s sport participation. Parents who are moderately involved create an optimal and supportive atmosphere for a child. For example, Power and Woolger (1994) found a linear relationship between parent support and children’s enthusiasm for sport. Moreover, they found that a moderate amount of parent directiveness (i.e., degree to which parents instruct children in sport with emphasis on areas in need of improvement) was optimal in terms of children’s sport enthusiasm (Power & Woolger, 1994). In contrast to moderate parental involvement, Hellstedt (1987) states, both low and high parental involvement typically create a less optimal environment which is likely to increase stress and reduce enjoyment associated with sport participation.
The studies conducted by Hellstedt (1987), Power and Woolger (1994) do not discuss involvement in terms of parental style. Within the current study three participants reported, overall, they were not pleased with the nature in which their father was involved in their sports activities. Each of these participants scored fathers extremely high as an authoritarian, 48, 40, and 48 out of a maximum of 50. Investigation of the specific behaviors and characteristics that led to these reports should be conducted to see if similarities exist between each participant’s experience.
Children should not feel pressure, stress, or anxiety from their parents. A parent should be supportive and create an environment in which a child feels comfortable. The easiest way to find out if a child is unhappy, in any way, with the involvement level of a parent is to ask the child. They may also want to ask their child what specific things they do to create stress or enjoyment. This will provide parents insight into their involvement and guidance for making any necessary increases or decreases in the degrees of their involvement.
The relationship between parental style and perceived parent initiated motivational climate needs further investigation. Results generally reveal a statistical significant relationship between permissive and authoritative fathers and high/low scores of the worry-conducive climate. Questions pertaining to the specific behaviors elicited by the parents were not asked and may prove beneficial in future studies. The child’s perception of parent involvement is most important in evaluating stress or enjoyment. Understanding, establishing, and maintaining an appropriate degree of involvement will help parents provide positive sport experiences for their young athletes.
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Parental Authority Questionnaire for the Mother’s and Father's Parenting Style
Instructions: For each of the following statements, circle the number on the 5-point scale (1= strongly disagree, 5= strongly agree) that best describes how that statement applies to you and you mother. Try to read and think about each statement as it applies to you and your mother during your years of growing up at home. There are no right or wrong answers, so don’t spend a lot of time on any one item. We are looking for an overall impression regarding each statement. Be sure not to omit any items.
1. While I was growing up my mother felt that
in a well run home the children should have their way in the family as
often as parents do.
12. My mother felt that wise parents should teach
their children early just who is boss in the family.
Please read each of the statements listed below
and indicate how much you personally agree with each statement by circling
the appropriate response.
I feel that my mother….
2. Makes me worried about failing. 1 2 3 4 5
3. Looks satisfied when I win without effort. 1 2 3 4 5
4. Makes me worried about failing because it will
appear 1 2
5. Pays special attention to whether I am improving
6. Says it is important for me to win without trying hard. 1 2 3 4 5
7. Makes sure that I learn one thing before teaching
8. Thinks I should achieve a lot without much effort. 1 2 3 4 5
9. Believes enjoyment is very important in developing
1 2 3
10. Makes me feel badly when I can’t do as well as others. 1 2 3 4 5
11. Looks completely satisfied when I improve
12. Makes me afraid to make mistakes. 1 2 3 4 5
13. Tells me I should be satisfied when I achieve
14. Approves of me enjoying myself when trying
15. Supports my feeling of enjoyment to skill development. 1 2 3 4 5
16. Makes me worried about performing skills that
17. Encourages me to enjoy learning new skills. 1 2 3 4 5
18. Tells me that making mistakes are part of
1 2 3 4
* Same questions for the father- "I feel that my father....
Please answer the following questions to the best
of your ability, you may choose not to answer if you do not wish to share
Number of sports participated in at the Varsity or Junior Varsity high school level
1 2 3
Did either parent coach a team in which you were a member of during your sport career
No Father Mother
If yes, how many years did they coach
1 2 3 4 5 or more
Overall, were you pleased with the nature in which your father was involved in your sports activities?
Overall, were you pleased with the nature in which your mother was involved in your sports activities?
Are you currently volunteering at any organization?