Adolescents' role in democratic "parenting"
Sammanfattning: In research on family democracy there has been a tradition to focus on parents as leaders setting up the family climate. This dissertation challenged this perspective. Keeping with present day’s emphasis on bidirectionality between parents and children democratic family functioning was seen as jointly created by parents and youths. Results showed that youths behaviors and characteristics have to be taken into account if the democratic working of the family is to be fully understood. When controlling for parents’ behaviors, adolescents’ behaviors added significantly to the prediction of a democratic family climate (Study I). Within families, youths democracy compromising behaviors were found to not only have consequences for the individual child. Instead, it was found that changes in younger siblings’ perceptions of family democracy changed as a consequence of an older sibling’s earlier democracy compromising behavior (Study II). Finally, parental openness to communication, youth openness to communication, and parental bad treatment all were found to be separate components of family democracy. Also, these components of family democracy were found to be prospectively linked to adolescents’ perceptions of the democratic climate in their own families. Further, these three components could be used to identify stable family configurations which differed with respect to adolescents’ perceptions of having influence in family matters and their internal-and external adjustment as well as other aspects of the parent-child relationship (Study III). Moreover, changes over-time within families in parental openness to communication, youth openness to communication, and parental bad treatment were associated with changes in youths’ perceptions of having influence in family matters and other features of parent-child relations (Study III). On the whole, these findings lend strong support to seeing children as active agents in the democratic workings of the family and they support a family systems approach to the issue of democratic family functioning. Clearly, young people are human agents with the capacity to interpret and react to their own reality. They are certainly both the harvest and the seeds of democratic family functioning.
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