Parenting and Adolescent's Psychological Adjustment: Toward a Systemic Approach in Parenting Research

Marwan Dwairy*
Oranim Academic College, P.O. Box 14710, Ora St. 3b, Nazerat Ellit 17000, Israel.

© 2009 Marwan Dwairyh et al;

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Oranim Academic College, P.O. Box 14710, Ora St. 3b, Nazerat Ellit 17000, Israel; Tel/Fax: 97246561541; E-mail:


This article’s objectives are twofold: (a) to disclose the possible distortion of the associations found in the reductionist research that prevails in many areas, in order to ensure greater caution and better understanding of such research. (b) To study the associations between family and parental factors and adolescent psychological disorders (PD) according to a systemic model that analyses eight familial factors and eleven parental factors in addition to two nominal ones: culture and the adolescents' sex. The study is based on a data collected from nine countries (1358 male and 1526 female adolescents), regarding two categories of family factors (socio-economic and connectedness) and three categories of parenting factors (control, inconsistency, and rejection) and adolescent psychological disorders (PD). To compare different levels of reductionism, four analyses of the same data were carried out, ranging from an analysis of the associations between each factor and adolescent PD (reductionist), to analysis of the associations between all the factors taken together (systemic) and adolescent PD. In addition, the systemic analysis was carried out among different groups of adolescents according to two nominal variables: culture (western and eastern) and the adolescents’ sex (male female). Our results show that in a reductionist analysis most of the family and parental factors have significant associations with adolescents PD, and altogether explain 37.2% of adolescents' PD. Most of these associations were diminished or changed in the systemic analysis and explained only 13.5% of the PD variance. The associations of the more systemic analysis changed again when two nominal factors (culture and sex) were taken into consideration. These findings indicate that reductionist analyses may lead to illusionary associations and that mixed results are an inevitable or even inherent byproduct of reductionist research.

Keywords: Parenting, adolescents, culture, collectivism, systemic.