Parenting and Career Development
The family is a place in which children learn to interpret reality (Way and Rossmann 1996b). Parents serve as significant interpreters for children of information about the world and children's abilities (Hall, Kelly, Hansen, and Gutwein 1996). Researchers have studied the influence of parents and the family on children's career choice and development. Much of this research has demonstrated links between career development and such factors as socioeconomic status, parents' educational and occupational attainment, and cultural background. This Digest highlights a different body of research that considers the effects of family relationships. This research is based on attachment theory, which suggests that close relationships provide experiences of security that promote exploration and risk taking (Ketterson and Blustein 1997), and social learning theory, which views "early experiences as a basis for developing career self-efficacy and interests as well as career goals and choices throughout life" (Altman 1997, p. 241). The Digest looks at the ways in which parenting styles, family functioning, and parent-child interaction influence career development.
The Role of Parenting Styles
Roe, an early theorist, proposed that early childhood experiences play an indirect role in shaping later career behavior (Brown, Lum, and Voyle 1997). She suggested that parent-child relationships influence personality orientations and the development of psychological needs; vocational interests and choices are some of the ways in which individuals try to satisfy those needs (ibid.). Although Osipow (1997) and others point out the difficulty of demonstrating links between parenting styles and vocational choices, some research evidence is emerging.
Parenting styles are broad patterns of child rearing practices, values, and behaviors. Four types of parenting styles are indulgent (more responsive than demanding), authoritarian (highly demanding and directive but not responsive), authoritative (both demanding and responsive), and uninvolved (low in responsiveness and demandingness) (Darling 1999). The authoritative style balances clear, high expectations with emotional support and recognition of children's autonomy. Studies have associated this style with self-confidence, persistence, social competence, academic success, and psychosocial development (Bloir 1997; Strage and Brandt 1999). Authoritative parents provide a warm family climate, set standards, and promote independence, which result in more active career exploration on the part of children (Kracke 1997).
Although authoritarian parenting is associated with school success, pressures to conform and fulfill parents' expectations regarding education and careers can cause a poor fit between the individual and the chosen career, as well as estranged family relationships and poor mental health (Way and Rossmann 1996a). Families with uninvolved (or inactive) parents "seem unable to function well either because they cannot set guidelines, or because they do not pursue interests that involve places and persons outside the family" (ibid., p. 3). This makes it more difficult for children to develop self-knowledge and differentiate their own career goals from their parents' goals.
Reprinted with the permission of the Education Resources Information Center.
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