Parental control, gender and delinquency in patriarchal and non-patriarchal households: A qualitative assessment
McCorry, Timothy A
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In this dissertation I consider how an adolescents' interpretations of, and reactions to, parental controls are related to juvenile delinquency. Drawing on the work of Wells and Rankin (1998), I examine three basic components of parental control, including: (1) normative regulations, (2) monitoring, and (3) disciplining. Drawing on Hagan et al. (1987) and Singer (2001), I examine the differences in the processes of control utilized in traditional, patriarchal and modern, egalitarian households, and examine how adolescent responses to controls vary depending on gender. To hear how adolescents think about their parents' control strategies, I conducted in-depth interviews with 25 adolescents from patriarchal and non-patriarchal households. One of the main contributions of this study was the discovery of the strategies adolescents use in response to parental controls: (1) conformity, (2) waiting it out, (3) hiding out, (4) covering tracks, and (5) open rebellion. Strategies among adolescents in patriarchal households were likely to be reactions to the fear of external or direct controls (e.g., colluding with peers to "cover tracks"), while strategies among adolescents in non-patriarchal households were more likely to be reactions to internalized parental values (e.g., unquestioning obedience to parental rules). Regardless of gender, adolescents from non-patriarchal households were more likely than those from patriarchal households to report using strategies of "open rebellion." Findings suggest that future research should move beyond simply examining parental control strategies; it should also examine adolescent reaction strategies for dealing with the controls they perceive. Implications for adolescents, parents, researchers, and policy makers are discussed.