Family Characteristics and Adolescent Competence in India: Investigation of Youth in Southern Orissa

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Abstract

This study examines the relationship among a host of family characteristics and indicators of adolescent competence in a sample (N = 107) of 8th- and 9th-grade students in one school located in Berhampur city in Orissa state, India. Social competence (SC) and antisocial behavior (AB) were assessed by teachers, and adolescents evaluated various areas of their own competence on a perceived competence scale. Final examination grades also were obtained as a general measure of cognitive competence. The results indicated that families of more socially competent participants tended to be verbally and emotionally expressive; democratic with regard to discipline, input, and decision making; close but not enmeshed; higher in their level of parent–adolescent communication and family ideals; and lower in external locus of control. Consequently, families of more antisocial adolescents had more conflict and enmeshment and were more external-locus-of-control oriented and either permissive or authoritarian. Finally, several personal and family demographic traits were positively associated with SC and negatively associated with AB, including gender (girls higher in SC and lower in AB than boys), age and grade (older students and those in grade 9 more competent and less problematic), education level of mothers and fathers (positively related to SC and negatively to AB), and birth order (middle children in the family lower in self-perceptions of competence than oldest or youngest children). The findings have implications for parenting and family-life education efforts in India that could have a major impact on the development of adolescent competence.

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