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The effect of adolescents' image of parents on children's self-image and mental health

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Abstract

Background:  Parents as caregivers are one of the most influential agents of socialisation/emotional stability in the lives of children, but the parent–child relationship is hardly conflict-free: occasional distress that affects mental health is known to occur. The present study examines the effect of adolescents’ perception of their parents on the child’s own self-image/mental health.

Method:  Seven hundred and thirty-one (731) junior high school adolescents, living with their parents in the Ibaraki area of Japan, participated in the study. The self-esteem and self-denial scales assessed adolescents’ self-image, while the trait-anxiety and depression tools rated mental health. The adolescents’ perception of parents was measured with two tools: a checklist of negative/positive descriptive adjectives of parents, and the Perceived Emotional Support from Family scale. The structural equation modelling (SEM) of the study hypothesis was constructed and analysed by the AMOS statistics.

Results:  Adolescents’ image of their parents affected the children’s self-image and mental health. A positive adolescent image of parents elicited a positive adolescent self-image, leading to a marked reduction in mental distress among children. The model outcome was applicable to boys and girls.

Conclusions:  A positive image of parents enhanced adolescents’ self-image, and facilitated psychological wellbeing in children, irrespective of their sex.

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