Autonomous and Controlled Motivation for Parenting: Associations with Parent and Child Outcomes

Abstract

The present investigation examined motivation for parenting and some of its correlates in parents and children. The data came from samples of 151 first-time mothers of infants, 153 mothers of middle school children, and 260 mothers and fathers of high school children. Parents provided self-report data about their motivation in their parenting role as well as reports of role satisfaction, parental competence, child temperament, and parenting styles. Using three samples, factor analyses confirmed the distinction between autonomous and controlled forms of parenting motivation. Autonomous motivation refers to investing in the parenting role because it is interesting and meaningful whereas controlled motivation refers to investment based on external or internal pressures. Results showed that autonomous motivation was associated concurrently with parenting satisfaction and competence as well as with authoritative and autonomy-supportive parenting styles. Child temperament was unrelated to parenting motivation, but mothers reported greater autonomous motivation for girls than boys and for younger children rather than older children. Autonomous parenting motivation was associated with children reporting autonomy supportive parenting and high levels of well-being. A prospective analysis showed that controlled parenting motivation in first time mothers was associated with reductions in parenting satisfaction as infants became toddlers. A similar analysis showed that autonomous parenting motivation was associated with children developing fewer behavior problems whereas controlled motivation was associated with children developing more behavioral problems. The present findings highlight the heuristic value of assessing why parents invest themselves in the parenting role.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Achenbach, T. M. (2000). Child behavior checklist. In A. E. Kazdin (Ed.), Encyclopedia of psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 69–70). Washington, DC: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Achenbach, T. M., & Rescorla, L. A. (2000). Manual for the ASEBA preschool forms & profiles. Burlington, VT: University of Vermont.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Anderman, E. M. (2002). School effects on psychological outcomes during adolescence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94(4), 795–809.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Bates, J. E., Freeland, C. A., & Lounsbury, M. L. (1979). Measurement of infant difficultness. Child Development, 50, 794–803.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Baumrind, D. (1971). Current patterns of parental authority. Developmental Psychology, 4, 1–103.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). The general causality orientations scale: Self-determination in personality. Journal of Research in Personality, 19, 109–134.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227–268.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Self-determination theory: A macro theory of human motivation, development, and health. Canadian Psychology, 49, 182–185.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The life with satisfaction scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 49, 71–76.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Emmons, R. A. (1992). Abstract versus concrete goals: Personal striving level, physical illness, and psychological well-being. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62(2), 292–300.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Froiland, J. M. (2011). Parental autonomy support and student learning goals: A preliminary examination of an intrinsic motivation intervention. Child & Youth Care Forum, 40, 135–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Froiland, J. M. (2013). Parents’ weekly descriptions of autonomy supportive communication: Promoting children’s motivation to learn and positive emotions. Journal of Child and Family Studies. doi:10.1007/s10826-013-9819-x.

  13. Gingras, I. (2007). S’impliquer dans l’éducation des enfants, mais pas trop non plus: la balance clé pour le bien-être des enfants. Final research report presented to the Fonds québécois de la recherche sur la société et la culture (FQRSC).

  14. Grolnick, W. S., & Ryan, R. M. (1989). Parent styles associated with children’s self-regulation and competence in school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 143–154.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Grolnick, W. S., Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (1991). Inner resources for school achievement: Motivational mediators of children’s perceptions of their parents. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 508–517.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Joussemet, M., Koestner, R., Lekes, N., & Houlfort, N. (2004). Introducing uninteresting tasks to children: A comparison of the effects of rewards and autonomy support. Journal of Personality, 72, 141–169.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Joussemet, M., Koestner, R., Lekes, N., & Landry, R. (2005). A longitudinal study of the relations maternal support to children’s adjustment and achievement in school. Journal of Personality, 73, 1215–1235.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Joussemet, M., Landry, R., & Koestner, R. (2008). A self-determination theory perspective on parenting. Canadian Psychology, 49, 194–200.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Landry, R., Whipple, N., Mageau, G., Joussemet, M., Koestner, R., DiDio, L., et al. (2008). Trust in organismic development, autonomy support, and adaptation among mothers and their children. Motivation and Emotion, 32, 173–188.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. MacPhee, D., Benson, J. B., & Bullock, D. (1986). Influences on maternal self-perceptions. In Paper presented at the Fifth Biennial International Conference on Infant Studies.

  21. Milyavskaya, M., Gingras, I., Mageau, G., Koestner, R., Gagnon, H., Fang, J., et al. (2009). Balance across contexts: The importance of balanced need satisfaction across life domains in adolescence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1031–1045.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Pelletier, L. G., Séguin-Lévesque, C., & Legault, L. (2002). Pressure from above and pressure from below as determinants of teachers’ motivation and teaching behaviors. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 186–196.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Pomerantz, E. M., Grolnick, W. S., & Price, C. E. (2005). The role of parents in how children approach achievement: A dynamic process perspective. In A. J. Elliot & C. S. Dweck (Eds.), Handbook of competence and motivation (pp. 229–278). New York: Guilford Press Publications.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Robbins, R. J. (1995). An assessment of perceived parental autonomy-support and control: Child and parent correlates (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. (Accession Order No. AAM9523161).

  25. Robinson, C. C., Mandleco, B., Olsen, S. F., & Hart, C. H. (2001). The parenting styles and dimensions questionnaire. In J. Touliatos & B. Perlmutter (Eds.), Handbook of family measurement techniques (2nd ed., pp. 319–321). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Roth, G., Assor, A., Kanat-Maymon, Y., & Kaplan, H. (2007). Autonomous motivation for teaching: How self-determined teaching may lead to self-determined learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99(4), 761–774.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Ryan, R. M. (1995). Psychological needs and the facilitation of integrative processes. Journal of Personality, 63, 397–427.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Ryan, R. M., & Connel, J. P. (1989). Perceive d locus of causality and internalization: Examining reasons for acting in two domains. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57(5), 749–761.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2000). The darker and brighter sides of human existence: Basic psychological needs as a unifying concept. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 319–338.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Soenens, B., Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., Luyckx, K., Goossens, L., Beyers, W., et al. (2007). Conceptualizing parental autonomy support: Adolescent perceptions of promotion of independence versus promotion of volitional functioning. Developmental Psychology, 43, 633–646.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Stayton, D. J., Hogan, R., & Ainsworth, M. D. (1971). Infant obedience and maternal behavior: The origins of socialization reconsidered. Child Development, 42, 1057–1069.

  32. Su, Y. L., & Reeve, J. (2011). A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of intervention programs designed to support autonomy. Educational Psychology Review, 23, 159–188.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tomas Jungert.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Jungert, T., Landry, R., Joussemet, M. et al. Autonomous and Controlled Motivation for Parenting: Associations with Parent and Child Outcomes. J Child Fam Stud 24, 1932–1942 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-014-9993-5

Download citation

Keywords

  • Motivation for parenting
  • Role satisfaction
  • Parental competence
  • Child temperament
  • Parenting style