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18-09-2020 | Original Paper | Uitgave 11/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 11/2020

When Parents Seek Perfection: Implications for Psychological Functioning Among Teens at High-Achieving Schools

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 11/2020
Kelsey Stiles, Steve S. Lee, Suniya S. Luthar
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Although often considered to be at low risk for negative outcomes, there is replicated evidence that youth attending high-achieving schools experience clinically significant mental health problems that exceed national norms. However, relatively little is known about family correlates of adolescent socio-emotional development, including parental criticism and expectations. Using a sample of high school students (N = 710, mean age = 16.7 years, 45% female) drawn from a high-achieving school in a largely affluent area, this study investigated concurrent associations between adolescent perceptions of maternal and paternal criticism and expectations with their self-reported internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. To discern configurations of family environment based on separate ratings of maternal and paternal criticism and expectations, we employed person-centered, latent profile analysis. An empirically distinct class emerged consisting of families with elevated maternal and paternal criticism and expectations; this class concurrently reported the highest levels of internalizing and externalizing problems. These findings highlight the importance of parent-child relationships for offspring well-being and suggest that paternal achievement expectations may be particularly relevant among high-achieving youth. We consider these findings within the larger context of family factors and adolescent development among youth in high-achieving contexts, including the significant need to consider father-offspring relationship factors.

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