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Children’s Influence on Their Parent’s Adult Development: Mothers’ and Fathers’ Receptivity to Children’s Requests for Change

Abstract

This mixed-method study examined parents’ experiences of their children’s influence on parent’s continuing adult development. Mothers and fathers from 30 families were separately interviewed regarding two of their children who were between 8 and 14 years old. Parents reported on recent events when their younger and older child successfully requested that parents change their preferences, attitudes, and personal behaviors. Mothers reported more direct child influence than fathers, and both parents reported that they were more receptive to influence from their older children. Thematic analyses revealed that parents were generally comfortable with child influence and constructed their children as actors and agents. Parents attributed their receptivity to agentic qualities of children’s requests, goals for empowering children, and maintaining their mutual relationship. The findings provided insight into the transactional and relational nature of children’s influence and the direct and indirect impact of children on the adult development of parents.

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Correspondence to Leon Kuczynski.

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Kuczynski, L., Pitman, R., Ta-Young, L. et al. Children’s Influence on Their Parent’s Adult Development: Mothers’ and Fathers’ Receptivity to Children’s Requests for Change. J Adult Dev 23, 193–203 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10804-016-9235-8

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Keywords

  • Child agency
  • Child influence
  • Parenting
  • Parent-child relationships
  • Bidirectionality
  • Adult development
  • Socialization