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|Title:||The Experience of Parenthood, Family Phase, and Ego Development in Adults|
|Author(s):||Nelson, Jo Ann Neville|
|Department / Program:||Education|
|Degree Granting Institution:||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
|Abstract:||The purpose of this study was an exploration of parents' self reported ideas on the contribution of parenthood to their own development as adults. It was hypothesized that the nature and frequency of ideas expressed by parents in response to questions on their parenthood experience would be influenced by the phase of the family, sex of parent, and level of ego development among parents.
Methods. Family phase was defined in terms of the age of the oldest child. There were three phases represented by parents of preschool, middle school, and post high school children. There were ten pairs of parents in each group for a total of 30 mothers and 30 fathers from intact middle-class homes.
Procedures. (1) An open-ended interview assessed parents' self-reports of their changed perspectives on themselves and their children, their expectations for their children prior to childrearing, similarities and dissimilarities to their own parents, and perceived changes in the self. Interview data were analyzed using a thematic content analysis that identified and quantified the many ideas or themes expressed. These varied, and included parental investment, insight, self-awareness, self-conflicts and concerns for family roles, socio-cultural change, sex, religion, and the power of forces outside the family. Themes that clustered around a central idea were combined to create five composite categories: Growth, Personal Values, Generativity, Time and Energy, and Self-Concerns. The total number of scorable response themes for each subject were summed to produce a fluence score. (2) Loevinger's Sentence Completion Test was used as a measure of ego development, which is described by Loevinger as "the master trait" that influences a person's conceptualization of interpersonal relationships and of oneself. Levels include I-3/4 or Conscientious-Conformist; I-4 or Conscientious; I-4/5 or Individual; and I-5 or Autonomous.
Results. Frequency of levels of ego development for the 60 subjects were I-3/4 = 15; I-4 = 29; I-4/5 = 12; I-5 = 4. There were no sex differences and no significant relationship between age of parent, family group, and ego level. Ego level was significantly correlated with fluency.
Analysis of variance indicated that level of ego development was significantly related to themes of Valuing Interpersonal Relationships, Self-Awareness, Parental Investment, and Affect, and to composite categories of Growth and Personal Values. Significant Pearson correlations between ego level and parental expressions of Insight, Internal Qualities of the Child, Maturity, Trust, Questioning, and Economic Concerns were obtained. Ego level was negatively correlated with themes of Power of Outside Forces, Reason, Achievement, and concerns regarding Sex. When multiple regression was computed separately for males and females, females showed a closer relationship between ego level and scores of Growth and Personal Values. Fisher's Z-transformation of r showed a marginally significant sex difference in the relationship of ego level and Growth. Parents of younger children reported significantly more concerns for Energy and Endurance and expressions of Trust. Women expressed significantly more themes of Self-Awareness, Realism, and Trust, and the composite category of Growth.
Conclusions. This study has shown that parenthood contributes to parents' reports of personal growth and serves as a focus for personal, interpersonal, and social values. Family phase was significantly related to the kinds of conflicts experienced. Level of ego development and sex of parent had significant influence upon the nature and frequency of parents' ideas. Both ego level and sex appear to mediate the subjective experience of parenthood. Further research is suggested in the relationship between ego level and other variables in a sample representing a broader socioeconomic range.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1980.
|Date Available in IDEALS:||2014-12-12|