Adolescents' complex representations of the maternal and paternal roles

Tamar Rapoport, Niza Yanay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study addresses the issue of traditionalism and feminism in adolescent perceptions of presenting in the post-modern era, analyzing how middle-class male and female adolescents incorporate into their meaning systems complex social messages pertaining to continuity and change in maternal and paternal roles. We do so by eliciting conceptions of the daily tasks and responsibilities of mothers and fathets, as well as reasons for improper parental performance, from 95 middle-class Israeli adolescents. Based on a content analysis of responses, our findings suggest that adolescents assign to parental roles attributes characteristic of achieved roles. Their representation of these roles is complex, incorporating both a clinging to and a departure from traditional images of parental role behavior, and seems to reflect the confusion of the post-modern era as regards parenthood. Above all, subjects seem to view mothers and fathers neither as mythical gods nor demons, but rather as human beings who are attentive to their children, yet need not sacrifice their own interests; who are devoted to, yet occasionally withdraw from the parental role.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-112
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Sociology of the Family
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1989


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