Thursday, December 09th, 2010 | Author: mjward

It is commonly held that coming from a “good” family helps young people lead successful lives. This idea is particularly true when parents are authoritative, that is, when they set standards for their children, but are flexible in recognizing their children’s individual needs. Such parents care what their children do but they also pay attention to their children’s strengths, weaknesses, and desires. Frequent encouraging communication by parents can increase a student’s competence and success in school.

A study based on two large-scale surveys in the United States did find that students performed better in high school when they had a warm relationship with their parents. Because their marks were higher, they were more likely to be accepted into a good college that suited their needs.

The researchers, however, were surprised at one group of students. These were close to their families and had high marks. Yet they were reluctant to leave home. Thus they applied only to nearby post-secondary institutions or did not attend college at all because of the distance. These young people limited their opportunities by these choices. For many, it is necessary to break from adolescent associations and lifestyles in order to enrol in college and excel there. The situation is, of course, far more complicated than just wanting to stay near parents. These young people may be held by peers, the community itself, or a romantic relationship.

The reluctance to leave home for post-secondary education may be greater for non-White young people or those from minority groups. Earlier studies in Canada have found that young Aboriginal students who go away to college often feel an obligation to provide practical help to family members in their home communities. This sense of responsibility is stronger if the young people feel close to their families. Thus they often fail to complete their studies.

There are always some young people who succeed academically even if their parents show little interest or even actively discourage them. But that’s the subject for another blog.




Das Gupta, T. (2000). Families of Native people, immigrants, and people of colour. In N. Mandell & A. Duffy (Eds.), Canadian families: Diversity, conflict, and change (2nd ed., pp. 146-187). Toronto: Harcourt Canada.

López Turley, R. N., Desmond, M., & Bruch, S. K. (2010). Unanticipated consequences of a positive parent-child relationship. Journal of Marriage and Family, 72, 1377-1390.

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