In response to qualitative research question 1B that was posed to determine how Latina mothers’ perceive the effects of moral disengagement on their relationships with their teenagers, factors of consideration included mothers’ perceptions of teenagers’ respect for authority figures, school attendance behaviors, incidences of bullying behaviors, drug or alcohol use, and lying. Each of the aforementioned factors played a significant role in the establishment, maintenance and longevity of a familial parent-teenager bond and relationship. While it is common for teenagers to seek autonomy from parents, the emotional separation often results in a radical detachment from parents that can disintegrate the existing relationship (Ingoglia, Lo Coco, Liga, & Grazia Lo Cricchio, 2011). It is critical to emphasize the fact that separation and detachment are certainly not synonymous terms, as detachment has been identified as a more negative emotional response to maturation than separation given that detachment is characterized as a premature distancing from parents that is not congruent with the teenagers’ developmental level (Jager, Yuen, Putnick, Hendricks, & Bornstein, 2015).
Five out of ten parents indicated that their relationship was negatively affected as a product of a lack of respect directed towards parents, and the other five parents indicated that their children’s maturation into teenagers resulted in a complete lack of a parent-teenager relationship. It is important to note that the teenagers’ disrespectful behavior towards parents, parents’ significant others, teachers, and all adults with authority statuses served as causative factors in parents’ perceptions of negative or absent relationships with their teenagers. For example, when teens blatantly disrespected teachers, these behaviors affected the parent-teenager relationship. Issues of school attendance also affected parent-teenager relationships in a negative manner. Nine out of ten parents indicated that their teenagers have ditched school or have been accused of doing so. One parent reported simply not becoming angry about the issue anymore. The negative changes are very frustrating for parents because they aspired to encourage their teenagers to succeed, and they perceived that the teens did not have goals or enough ambition. As a result, their relationships were subjected to arguments, a lack of communication, feelings of unrest or a lack of peace, and/or a redirection of blame onto parents, and anger.
Moreover, bullying behaviors exhibited by six of the teenagers negatively affected their relationships with parents. It is critical to note that one parent chose not to address this question, and another parent indicated that their relationship is better because bulling is not discussed. As such, only two parents actually reported that their teenagers do not bully peers or younger siblings. The predominant negative effect of bullying is that of negative feelings of anger that impact parent-teenager relationships. In regard to drug and/or alcohol use, seven parents reported that this issue negatively affects their relationships causing feelings of anger and a redirection of blame onto parents. One parent reported the use of drugs/alcohol on school by their teenager during school vacations; however, the relationship was not reportedly affected. Only two parents reported that their teenagers did not use alcohol or drugs.
Much like the previous correlational finding, eight of the parents reported that their teenagers lie to them or have been accused of lying, yet seven reported that this issue negatively impacted their relationships. As teenagers lied to parents, their relationships were affected by arguments, anger, lack of communication or relationship, and/or a lack of trust. The salient fact is, as teenagers isolate their emotional experiences in a quest to seek autonomy, parental influences tend to be increasingly marginalized and undesired, thereby fostering conditions that detract from relationships. The subsequent moral disengagement that can occur is identifiably maladaptive (Hardy, Bean, & Olsen, 2015). The data indicate that the moral disengagement exhibited by teenagers as they willfully disrespect authority, ditch school, bully peers and younger siblings, use drugs/alcohol, and/or lie to parents is positively correlated with negative parent-teenager relationships.
Moral Disengagement: Research Question 1C
In response to qualitative research question 1C that was posed to determine how Latina mothers’ perceive the effects of moral disengagement on their teenagers’ academic performance, factors of consideration included mothers’ perceptions of teenagers’ respect for authority figures, school attendance behaviors, incidences of bullying behaviors, drug or alcohol use, and lying. Moral disengagement relative to academic performance often begins during the middle school years (Schoeneberger, 2012). Indicators include failing grades, particularly in math and English, behavior that is unsatisfactory, and decreased attendance rates below the 80 percent mark. Reduced efforts as a product of moral disengagement serve as a causative factor in poor academic performance, thereby serving as a strong predictor of dropping out of high school (Schoeneberger, 2012)
Eight out of ten parents indicated that their teenagers were disrespectful towards authority figures, and this population includes teachers and school administrators. Six parents reported low grades among teens, one parent reported insufficient credits to graduate, and one reported that their teenager is not going to graduate. Two parents chose not to respond in a manner that would serve the purpose of answering this research question. Moreover, nine out of ten parents reported that their teens ditched school. As a result, seven parents reported low grades, one indicated the teenager does not care about school or grades, and one reported that their teen is not on track to graduate. Parents reported instances in which their teens pretended to be sick to stay home from school and/or pretended to go to school and left. Suspensions appear to reward this behavior, as teens can then stay home to watch television or talk on the phone.
Among the four parents who reported that their teenagers engaged in bullying behaviors that negatively impacted academic performance due to suspensions, subsequent low grades as a resulted from missing school, and teens expressed a decreased interest in graduation. Six out of ten parents reported that drug or alcohol use negatively impacted academic performance due to resultant suspensions, a lack of interest in school, and/or low grades. Seven out of ten parents reported that their teenagers’ lying behaviors negatively impacted academic performance because the teenagers lie about schoolwork and homework; therefore, grades are lower and the likelihood of graduation is decreased. The psychological disengagement that teenagers exhibit demonstrates a fundamental lack of will exercised by a failure to act in a participatory manner, thereby resulting in a negative phenomenon (Fergusson, 2013). The data reveal that the moral disengagement exhibited by teenagers as they willfully disrespect authority, ditch school, bully peers and younger siblings, use drugs/alcohol, and lie to parents is positively correlated with negative academic performance of teenagers.
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- Ingoglia, S., Lo Coco, A., Liga, F., & Grazia Lo Cricchio, M. (2011). Emotional separation and
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