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Family and Environment Research > Volume 57(4); 2019 > Article
무엇이 한국 청소년들을 행복하게 하는가: 부모의 양육행동과 주관적 안녕감의 관계에서 자율성의 매개효과

Abstract

Korean adolescents have a lower subjective well-being compared to their counterparts in other Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries as well as experience more psychological difficulties than adults. Previous research shows that parenting behavior has a considerable influence on adolescent subjective well-being. Additionally, the personality dimension of self-directedness, the ability to regulate personal behavior to obtain onindividual goals, has a positive influence on subjective well-being. This study analyzed the structural relationship between parenting behavior, self-directedness, and the subjective well-being of Korean adolescents as well as investigated the mediating effect of self-directedness in the relationships between parenting behaviors and the subjective well-being of adolescents. Participants were 325 middle school students in Gwangju, Korea, who completed measures of self-directedness (from the Korean Junior Temperament and Character Inventory), subjective well-being (Well-Being Scale of Adolescents in Korea), and perceived parenting behaviors (My Memories of Upbringing – Short Korean version). Results showed that emotional warmth had a statistically significant direct impact on adolescents’ subjective well-being. However, the findings also indicated a statistically significant indirect impact mediated by self-directedness. Rejection and overprotection had a statistically significant indirect effect on adolescents’ subjective well-being that was mediated by self-directedness. The results provide information that can be used to develop programs to improve the subjective well-being of adolescents as well as confirm the importance of parenting behavior and self-directedness during adolescence.

Introduction

According to the 8th Report of Korean Child-Adolescent Well-Being Index and its International Comparison (Institute for Social Development Studies, 2017), the Korean child-adolescent subjective well-being index was the lowest out of 22 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countries. Among various fields, “satisfaction with my life”(personal happiness) was drastically lower than the average among OECD countries, which shows that Korean adolescents perceived low levels of satisfaction with their lives. This illustrates a social phenomenon in Korea where psychological dissatisfaction accompanies increasing affluence. Korea Institute for Health and Social affairs (Jin & Go, 2013) reported trends in adolescent suicide rates among OECD countries indicating that the OECD average suicide rate in the children and youth category (10–24 years old) declined from 7.7 persons in 2000 to 6.5 in 2011, but over the same period the suicide rate for the same population category in Korea increased from 6.4 in 2000 to 9.4 in 2011. The increasing prevalence of suicide among Korean children and adolescents is notable in consideration of the link between youth suicide and happiness.
According to “Korean Social Trends 2015”(Statistical Research Institute, 2015), the adult stress index rate was 24.4%, while the youth stress index rate was 37.0%; 10.3% of adults experienced feelings of depression, while 26.7% of adolescents reported the same experience. These figures show that adolescents experience more psychological difficulties than adults.
Two possible factors may threaten the well-being of Korean adolescents. The first factor is Koreans’ attitudes toward education. Middle school students spend more time in school than in elementary school, enjoy less free time, and feel more academic pressure (Sim, 2018). Further, Korean parents place more pressure on their children for academic achievement when their children enter middle school (Kim, 2014). Korean teenagers cannot leverage unique strengths or discover their dreams because they are compelled to focus on academic subjects relevant to the university entrance examination (Korea Youth Counseling Institute, 2002) and study them by rote rather than identifying and freely exploring areas of personal interest. This educational system placed Korea at the top of the OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranking but at the bottom of the happiness index ranking (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2015).
The second factor stems from Korea’s sociocultural characteristics. A more individualistic mindset is replacing Korea’s previously collective social environment, a change driven by its rapid social Westernization (Park, 2011). Korean youth place more emphasis on freedom as per individual beliefs, whereas middle-aged and older-generation people focus more on relationships out of a collectivist mindset (Kim, 2014). Due to these social circumstances, Korean society frowns upon signs of autonomy and self-determination in adolescents. For example, adolescents end up receiving a “spoiled child” stigma if they talk openly about their position and thoughts to adults, get their hair dyed, or wear favorite clothes instead of school uniforms. This discourages and causes stress for adolescents who cannot freely express thoughts and utilize free will. The sociocultural context determines the individuals’ pursuit of autonomy (Markus & Kitayama, 2003), but the co-existence of individualist beliefs and collectivist expectations in Korean society suppresses Korean adolescents’ expressions of freedom and autonomy, which can influence happiness (Jeon et al., 2011).
Despite the social phenomenon in which Korean youth are found to be less happy than youth in other countries, society does not perceive the issue of happiness in adolescents as a priority because of stereotypes where people believe that: “it is natural for adolescents to experience anxiety and maladjustment because it is a part of development”, “It’s because of puberty”, or “trying to satisfy current desires is inappropriate if they want a better future.” Therefore, the subjective well-being of adolescents needs to be treated as important because low subjective well-being increases risky behavior in adolescents (Savi Çakar & Tagay, 2017) and high subjective well-being enables adolescents to become satisfied with pursuing a healthy and adaptive lifestyle (Kim, 2011).

Subjective Well-Being

Researchers are actively conducting studies on happiness and the well-being of individuals due to the academic trends of positive psychology as well as studying personal happiness within a framework of concepts such as well-being, positive mood, life satisfaction, subjective quality of life, and subjective well-being. The perception that subjective judgments are essential when measuring quality of life has become mainstream (Diener, 2000), leading to the emergence of subjective well-being as the main concept that represents personal well-being (Jung, 2015).
Keyes (2005) combined the three domains of emotional, psychological, and social well-being to define subjective well-being. He argued that happiness requires people to pursue personal growth as part of their endeavor toward psychological well-being while also attempting to become contributing members of society and feeling subjectively satisfied with their lives. In this regard, he also called for a comprehensive approach to well-being. Therefore, based on the concept of subjective well-being of Keyes (2005), this study defines subjective well-being as recognized by integrating emotional well-being, psychological well-being, and social well-being.
Both Seligman (2014) and Lyubomirsky et al. (2005) have made significant contributions to happiness research. The researchers suggest that genetic factors (temperament), external factors (geographic and contextual variables) and internal factors (free will and high autonomy) affect happiness. Based on the theoretical underpinnings, we can expect genetic factors, environmental factors, and autonomous factors to influence the subjective well-being of adolescents. The genetic factors are characteristics set from birth and are difficult to change. However, both environmental interventions and individual self-awareness and efforts can change environmental factors and autonomous factors. Hence, some studies assume that adolescents can become happier by addressing these two factors (You & Yi, 2010).

Subjective Well-Being and Parenting Behavior

First, environmental factors that affect the subjective well-being of adolescents include parenting behavior (Park, Kim, & Cheon, 2013; Song & Han, 2015; Yoo, 2014). Parenting behavior refer to the consistent and overall attitudes or behavior of parents while raising a child. Studies have highlighted the important influence on child development as a child enters the adolescent stage (Lee, 1988; Rohner & Pettengill, 1985; Schaefer, 1965).
Many preceding studies on the relationship between parental behaviors and adolescent well-being report that parental emotional warmth has a positive effect on adolescent well-being, regardless of country or culture (Asscher et al., 2007; Han & Grogan-Kaylor, 2012; Kim, 2011; Yang et al., 2008). Researchers have also found that parental rejection (punishment and hostility) has a negative effect on the well-being of adolescents (Han & Grogan-Kaylor, 2012; Yang et al., 2008). In a study by Ahn (2012), overprotection had a negative effect on Korean adolescents’ well-being. Conversely, Yang et al. (2008) reported that overprotection had a positive effect on older Chinese adolescents’ well-being, and Moon (2008) reported that overprotection had a positive effect on Korean children’ s subjective well-being.
These previous studies show that parenting behavior influence the subjective well-being of adolescents. However, parenting influences on adolescents’ subjective well-being varied depending on the sub-dimension of parenting behavior considered; therefore, it is necessary to examine the relationship between adolescents’ subjective well-being and each dimension of parenting behavior.

Subjective Well-Being and Self-Directedness

Autonomous factors that influence the subjective well-being of adolescents include self-directedness (Garcia, 2011; Garcia & Moradi, 2012; Garcia et al., 2013; H. L. Lee, 2013), autonomy (Cho, 2016; Hong & Park, 2017). Of these, self-directedness is one character dimension of Cloninger’s (1987) personality model that refers to the ability to control, modify, and adjust individual behavior to match a given situation to achieve selected personal goals and values. Self-Directedness is the ability for self-control and maintaining a sense of responsibility, self-respect, and self-efficacy regarding personal behavior (Min et al., 2007) as well as the degree to understanding and identifying as an autonomous individual. In Korea, the translation of autonomy is used to represent Cloninger’s self-directedness; consequently, this study also uses self-directedness as autonomy.
Researchers have defined autonomy as the ability to act independently without direction by an external force (Deci & Ryan, 2002) and as a form of self-determination (Boden, 2008). Autonomy is an important developmental task that adolescents must achieve (Blos, 1983; Steinberg, 1990). Under the “Definition and Selection of Competencies (DeSeCo) Project”, the OECD selected “acting autonomously” as one of the three main competence categories that an individual must have to survive the future (as cited in Choi & Park, 2010). The development of autonomy during adolescence is an important developmental task that studies have previously emphasized and regard as a generational requirement for future society (Choi, Lee, &Yun, 2017).
Recent studies have explored self-directedness (autonomy) and well-being (happiness and life satisfaction). Garcia and colleagues (Garcia, 2011; Garcia & Moradi, 2012; Garcia et al., 2013) argued that Cloninger’s personality model is a new approach that relates to the subjective well-being of adolescents and reported that self-directedness has the strongest positive relationship with adolescents’ subjective well-being in cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. In a study conducted by Y. G. Lee (2013), self-directedness had a positive effect on overall subjective well-being along with all subtypes of subjective well-being which shows its important influence on the subjective well-being of Korean adolescents. Further, many preceding studies have reported that autonomy (self-directedness) influences adolescents’ well-being (H. L. Lee, 2013; Li & Ahn, 2016; Ryan & Deci, 2000). However, preceding studies mostly addressed relationships between a teacher, parental support autonomy and subjective well-being instead of studying self-directedness directly. Therefore, we examined the effect of adolescents’ perceived self-directedness on their subjective well-being.

Parenting Behavior and Self-Directedness

Parenting behavior are relevant to the development of self-directedness (autonomy) in adolescents. Self-Directedness is a dimension of character and has a close relationship with parenting behavior in that the latter has an important influence on aspects of psychological development such as character, emotions, self-concept, and sense of value (Sohn et al., 2001). To elaborate, Kim and Oh (2015) found that maternal rearing behaviors influenced character traits such as self-directedness and cooperation; in addition, studies conducted by Jang (2008) and Kim (2013) found that parental support had a positive influence on self-directedness (autonomy), while overprotection had a negative influence. Maccoby and Martin (1983) reported that controlling or strict parenting harms the development of a child’s autonomy.

Subjective Well-being, Parenting Behavior, and Self-Directedness

Kim and Min (2006) found that self-directedness mediated the influence of doting and overprotective parenting on youth depression. Cho (2016) also found that a mother’s psychological control influences adolescents’ subjective well-being through autonomy.
The results imply that each sub-dimension of parenting behavior has a different effect on the child’s development of self-directedness (autonomy).
Previous research alludes that self-directedness mediates the influence of parenting behavior on the subjective well-being of adolescents. However, existing studies have only addressed fragmentary relationships between parenting behavior and subjective well-being or supporting autonomy and subjective well-being; in addition, only a few studies have examined the structural relationship between parenting behavior, self-directedness, and subjective well-being.

Hypotheses

Based on the theoretical and empirical research reviewed, we hypothesized that parenting behavior would influence the subjective well-being of adolescents and that self-directedness mediates this relationship. We further hypothesized that parenting behavior sub-dimensions (emotional warmth, rejection, and overprotection) would have different effects on adolescents’ subjective well-being.
We believe that the relationship between parenting behavior, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being examined in the present research is highly relevant to modern-day Korea. The rapid Westernization of Korean society gave rise to significant changes in culture and social values (Kim, 2014). The demand for a more equal relationship between parents and children is replacing the traditional emphasis on strict discipline and filial duties; a reduced number of children in a family also gave rise to changing parenting behavior such as overprotection. This shift led many parents to explore parenting skills that can contribute to a child’s happiness. Korea’s rapid transformation from a collectivist to individualist society has also effected changes in the way society perceives and recognizes the expression of autonomy among adolescents. This study focuses on the relationship between parenting behavior, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being that will contribute to envisioning educational and policy interventions to enhance and in happiness among Korean adolescents.

Method

Participants

We selected 325 male and female Korean middle school students in the first to third years (aged 14–16) living in Gwangju, Korea. Participants consisted of 134(41.2%) boys and 191(58.8%) girls. Regarding the distribution of students per grade level, 83(25.5%) were in 1st grade, 103(31.7%) in 2nd grade, and 139(42.8%) in 3rd grade. Regarding family size, 21(6.5%) students’ families had one child, 208(64.3%) had two, and 96(29.2%) had three. We asked students to self-evaluate the economic status of their family based on subjective perceptions into three categories of high, medium, and low. Eighty-four students(25.8%) identified their family’s economic status as high, 207(63.7%) as medium, and 34(10.5%) as low.

Procedure

Prior to conducting the study, the Chonnam National University Institutional Review Board approved our research protocol CNU IRB, No. 1040198-150729-HR-042-03. The research involved students from four middle schools; we randomly selected one school from each district of Gwangju in September, 2017. We provided students and parents a written explanation about the survey and consent forms, and allowed one week for participants to provide consent to participate. We distributed the survey to 400 students, for which we obtained consent from both students and their parents, and all students participated in our study voluntarily. Participants returned 355 of the 400 questionnaires, and we ultimately excluded 30 of these during the coding process due to insincere responses (all answers recorded in the same number, duplicate answers for each question item, or a significant number of unanswered items.). The final analysis included 325 questionnaires.

Measures

Perceived parenting behavior

We evaluated perceived parental behaviors using the Korean version (Moon, 2008) of the Egna Minnen Betraffande Uppfostran–My Memories of Upbringing (EMBU)–short. Arrindell and Engebretsen (2000) designed the EMBU, and other researchers have translated it into many languages. The EMBU-short has 23 items and consists of three sub-dimensions: emotional warmth, rejection, and overprotection. Emotional warmth (7 items) is rearing behavior associated with “Your parents show that they love you.” Rejection (8 items) is rearing behavior associated with “Your parents criticize you in front of others”. Over protection (8 items) is rearing behavior associated with “When you come home, you have to tell your parents what you have been doing.” Participants rate the EMBU items on a 4-point Likert scale with responses ranging from 1=No, never to 4=Yes, most of the time. We conducted a confirmatory factor analysis using the three sub-dimensions of child-rearing behavior as latent variables to examine the structural equation model. We excluded five items with a factor loading of .50 or below from the analysis. We then performed a second confirmatory factor analysis with a total of 18 items excluding these five items. The results supported the convergent validity on all three sub-dimensions (emotional warmth, rejection, and overprotection), as they demonstrated a factor loading of .50 or above. The internal consistency reliability estimates for emotional warmth, rejection, and overprotection in this study were .89, .89, and .77, respectively.

Self-directedness

We evaluated self-directedness using the Self-Directedness Scale from the Korean standardized Junior Temperament and Character Inventory (JTCI). Cloninger et al. (1994) developed the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), and there are translations of the measure in many languages. Oh and Min (2004) standardized the Korean version of the JTCI. The character inventory of adolescents consists of three personality dimensions: self-directedness, cooperativeness, and self-transcendence. The Self-Directedness (SD) Scale consists of 14 items concerning the ability to exhibit self-control and individual behavior to achieve goals and values. The scale consists of four subdimensions: Responsibility vs Blaming (SD1), Purposefulness and vs Lack of Goal Direction (SD2), Resourcefulness vs Inertia (SD3), and Self-Acceptance vs Self-Striving (SD4). Participants rate the self-directedness items on a 4-point Likert scale with responses ranging from 0=Rarely or none of the time to 3=Most or all of the time. The internal consistency reliability estimate for the Self-Directedness Scale was .73.

Subjective well-being

We evaluated subjective well-being using the Korean standardized Well-Being Scale of Adolescent in Korea (K-WBSA). Keyes (2005) designed the Subjective Well-Being Scale (SWBS). The K-WBSA has 12 items and consists of three sub-dimensions: emotional well-being (“It’s fun to live”), psychological well-being (“Every day, I live faithfully as I planned”), and social well-being (“I have a sense of belonging in school, club, and community activities”). Participants rate the K-WBSA items on a 6-point Likert scale with responses ranging from 1=No, never to 6=Yes, every day. The internal consistency reliability estimate for the K-WBSA was .91. The reliability of the sub-dimensions of subjective well-being were .93 for emotional well-being, .76 for psychological well-being, and .82 for social well-being.

Data Analysis

We used SPSS Statistics ver. 18.0 (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) and AMOS ver. 18.0 (IBM Co., Armonk, NY, USA) to analyze the data collected in this study. We calculated Cronbach’s alpha coefficients to verify the reliability of the measurement tools as well as the descriptive statistics of frequency, mean, and standard deviation to determine the general tendencies of the variables. A data set must exhibit a multivariate normal distribution to perform multivariate analysis. Therefore we examined the skewness and kurtosis to test for the normality of the data in the present research. Next, we conducted Perarson’s correlation analysis to explore the relationships between the variables. We used confirmatory factor analysis and fit indexes to verify the measurement model and structural model. We performed bootstrapping tests to verify the mediating effect of self-directedness by looking at structural relationships among the variables through estimates of the appropriately verified research model.

Results

First, we performed a descriptive statistical analysis to examine the general trends regarding the variables used in the analysis. Table 1 shows the results. Also, to analyze a structural equation model, the observed variables must demonstrate normal distribution; that is, they must have a multivariate normal distribution. We examined the skewness and kurtosis of the data to determine if they satisfy this requirement; consequently, there was no problem estimating the parameters by analyzing the structural equation model.
We analyzed the correlations to assess the relationships between the variables in the research model analysis, which we present in Table 2. All correlations were significant.
We performed a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to verify the validity of the measured variables in the structural model analysis. To evaluate the suitability of the measurement model, we used the root mean squared error of approximation (RMSEA), the comparative fit index (CFI), and the Tucker-Lewis index (TLI), χ2=664.738(p <.001), CFI=.915, TLI=.904, RMSEA=.063, which showed that the goodness of fit indexes of the measurement model satisfied the acceptance standards.
A structural equation modeling analysis assessed the causal relationships between the unobserved variables. We used the χ2 test statistic, CFI, TLI, and RMSEA index to verify the extent to which the selected research model conformed to the observed data, and we evaluated the suitability of the research model. We examined the goodness of fit index of the structural model regarding parental emotional warmth, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being, with the following results: χ2=176.883(p <.001), TLI=.945, CFI=.955, GFI=.929, RMSEA= 065. We then examined the goodness of fit of the structural model regarding parental rejection, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being, with the following results: χ2=137.669(p <.001), TLI=.950, CFI=.960, GFI=.939, RMSEA=.061. Next, we examined the goodness of fit of the structural model regarding parental overprotection, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being, with the following results: χ2=121.858 (p <.001), TLI=.926, CFI =.943, GFI=.938, RMSEA=.065. Kline (2005) indicated these values indicate that the model was acceptable.
Upon examining the structural model analysis regarding the relationship between parenting behavior, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being, each model established a total of three paths, and Table 3 and Figures 1, 2, and 3 illustrate the path analysis results. First, all paths were statistically significant in the structural model analysis results regarding the relationship between emotional warmth, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being, as shown in Figure 1. Second, the path of rejection toward subjective well-being was not significant in the structural model analysis results regarding the relationship between rejection, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being; however, the remaining two paths were statistically significant (Figure 2). Third, the path of overprotection toward subjective well-being was not significant in the structural model analysis results regarding the relationship between overprotection, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being; however, the remaining two paths were statistically significant (Figure 3).
We performed an effect decomposition through the standardized path coefficient of the final structural model to assess the structural relationship of the research model and verify its significance; in addition, we used the bootstrapping method to verify the statistical significance of the indirect effect and total effect. Table 3 illustrates these results. First, after decomposing the effect of the structural model regarding emotional warmth, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being, there was an indirect effect of emotional warmth on subjective well-being mediated by self-directedness. Self-directedness partially mediated the relationship between emotional warmth and subjective well-being. Second, after decomposing the effect of the structural model regarding rejection, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being, rejection only had an indirect effect on subject well-being mediated by self-directedness. In other words, self-directedness fully mediated the relationship between rejection and subjective well-being. Third, after decomposing the effect of the structural model regarding overprotection, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being, overprotection only had an indirect effect on subjective well-being mediated by self-directedness. Self-directedness fully mediated the relationship between rejection and subjective well-being.

Discussion

The results of the study are as follows. First, in the structural model analysis, the influence of self-directedness differed according to the sub-dimension of parenting attitude. Emotional warmth had a positive effect on self-directedness, while rejection and overprotection had negative effects. These results imply that overprotective and rejecting parenting attitudes stunt the development of a youth’s self-directedness, but an emotionally warm parenting attitude will have a positive influence on the development of self-directedness.
Upon examining the effect of perceived parenting behavior on adolescents’ subjective well-being, the effect differed according to the sub-dimension of parenting behavior. Emotional warmth had a positive effect on adolescents’ subjective well-being. This result shows that an accepting and emotionally warm parenting attitude is critical to adolescents’ subjective well-being (Cheng & Furnham, 2004; Kwak & Chung, 2010; Plunkett et al., 2007). Rejection and overprotection did not have a direct effect on adolescents’ subjective well-being. However, the lack of a direct effect does not necessarily indicate first-class no effect on subjective well-being; hence, it is necessary to perform a comprehensive examination that includes indirect effects through mediating variables.
Self-directedness had the greatest effect on adolescents’ subjective well-being, and this shows that adolescents with high self-directedness tend to have a positive outlook on their lives. The results show that self-directedness is extremely important to subjective well-being (Garcia & Moradi, 2012; Seligman, 2014). This finding supports the theory that autonomy is an important variable in the development of adolescents (Blos, 1983; Erikson, 1963; Havighurst, 1948; Steinberg, 1990).
Second, upon examining the effect decomposition results of the structural equation model regarding perceived parenting behavior and adolescents’ subjective well-being, emotional warmth had a direct effect on subjective well-being, and an indirect effect on subjective well-being mediated by self-directedness. This implies that emotional warmth is crucial for the subjective well-being of adolescents. Therefore, to improve adolescents’ subjective well-being, it is essential for parents to raise their children with emotional warmth. Furthermore, adolescents who perceive parenting behavior as emotionally warm tend to have higher self-directedness and are inclined to have a positive outlook on an assessment of their lives by taking responsibility for their actions, living a goal-oriented life, and accepting strengths and weaknesses.
Rejection did not have a direct effect on subjective well-being but had an indirect effect through the mediating variable of self-directedness. This implies that adolescents who perceive parenting behavior as rejecting tend to have many complaints about themselves, to feel a sense of helplessness, and to have a negative assessment of their lives. Therefore, it is important to increase self-directedness to increase subjective well-being in adolescents who perceive parenting behavior as rejecting.
Overprotection also had no direct effect on subjective well-being but did have an indirect effect mediated by self-directedness. This implies that adolescents who perceive parenting behavior as overprotective tend to transfer responsibility to others, lack a sense of purpose, and are inclined to have a negative assessment of their lives. Therefore, it is important to increase self-directedness to increase subjective well-being in adolescents who perceive parenting behavior as overprotective. To summarize, emotional warmth from parents is likely to enhance the child’s subjective well-being; however, overprotective or excessively rejecting parenting behavior are likely to reduce the child’s subjective well-being (Kim, 2011; Kazarian, Moghnie, & Martin, 2010).
The effect on the well-being of adolescents differed according to the sub-dimension of parenting behavior; in addition, the direct and indirect effect of emotional warmth on adolescents’ subjective well-being emphasizes this. Rejection and overprotection did not have direct effects on subjective well-being. However, we must make careful interpretation on if rejecting and overprotecting parenting attitudes do not influence adolescents’ subjective well-being because rejecting and overprotecting parenting behavior had a negative effect on a child’s self-directedness and an indirect effect on subjective well-being.
Based on the above results, we can make the following conclusions. First, perceived parenting behavior have direct or indirect effects on adolescents’ subjective well-being. It is critical to note that emotionally warm parenting attitudes had direct and indirect effects on subjective well-being. Therefore, there is a need for parental training regarding the importance of child-rearing and favorable child-rearing behaviors so that parents can raise children with emotional warmth. Second, self-directedness influenced adolescents’ subjective well-being. This shows that self-directedness, which is the ability to control, modify, and adjust actions, is extremely important in terms of adolescents’ subjective well-being. Therefore, it is necessary to change the educational system and social atmosphere to improve the self-directedness of adolescents.
Third, self-directedness mediated the effect of parenting behavior on the subjective well-being of adolescents. Self-directedness had the greatest effect on the subjective well-being of adolescents, but parenting behavior took precedence in the development of self-directedness, which confirms the importance of parenting behavior. Emotional warmth had a direct effect on the subjective well-being of adolescents, but it also helped develop self-directedness, which increased well-being such as having a positive assessment of life based on a sense of responsibility and self-acceptance. Emotional warmth is critical for adolescents’ subjective well-being. However, rejection or overprotection indirectly influenced adolescent’s subjective well-being through self-directedness. If parents are rejecting or overprotective of their child, the child may be unable to have a positive outlook on life because they cannot properly develop self-directedness, such as having a low sense of responsibility, lacking a sense of purpose, or being unable to accept themselves. Hence, adolescents raised with rejecting or overprotecting parenting behavior may need to have subjective well-being increased through interventions that improve self-directedness. Parents should identify their parenting behavior, avoid rejection or overprotection, and pursue affection. This requires regular parental education and parental counseling in schools and communities.
Rather than blaming low subjective well-being solely on external factors, effecting changes in adolescents’ internal factors, particularly self-directedness, can contribute to enhancing happiness. Interventions that focus on individual internal factors, with an emphasis on effecting changes within the individual, can have a particularly longer-lasting and stable effect (Kim, 2016). For adolescents who are emotionally struggling or feeling depressed due to low subjective well-being, counseling interventions that focus on improving self-directedness may help. In addition, developing and implementing programs aimed at enhancing autonomy for youth throughout childhood and adolescence will also contribute to enhancing adolescents’ subjective well-being. Further, parents must be involved to increase the effectiveness of self-directedness programs for improving adolescents’ subjective well-being. For example, there is a need to develop self-directedness promotion programs that utilize family resources, such as parental training programs that focus on supporting self-directedness in children or improving the parent-child relationship.

Limitations and Future Research

There are several limitations to this study. First, we limited the study participants to a sample of adolescents living in Gwangju, Korea; therefore, researchers should conduct a more extensive study to generalize the results. Second, this study failed to control for sociodemographic variables such as gender, age, and the economic status of the participants’ family, which warrants future research endeavors to identify the influence of key sociodemographic variables on adolescents’ subjective well-being. Third, we recommend a follow-up study that addresses peer relationships, social support, school environment, community environment, and other variables related to the subjective well-being of adolescents, together with the variables of parenting behavior and self-directedness. Fourth, this study utilized a self-report survey. A follow-up study must collect more substantial data regarding adolescents through interviews or observation. Fifth, further research is needed to examine the differences by measuring father’s parenting behavior and mother’s parenting behavior because this study only measured the parenting behavior of the main caregiver. Lastly, we anticipate the discovery of many different variables that can promote subjective well-being and happiness in adolescents through continuous research. We hope that the results will benefit the development of youth policies so that Korean adolescents will be able to lead happier lives.

Conclusion

Adolescents are essential members of society and the principal actors who will lead our future. Issues regarding the subjective well-being of adolescents deserve priority because their happiness and well-being will influence society’s potential future advancement. Our findings revealed the existence of a structural relationship between parenting behavior, self-directedness, and adolescents’ subjective well-being as well as verifying the mediating effect of self-directedness. Emotional warmth had a statistically significant direct and indirect effect on adolescents’ subjective well-being. Rejection and overprotection did not have direct effects on subjective well-being but did have statistically significant indirect effects mediated by self-directedness. The results show the necessity of parental education to identify their parenting attitudes, avoid overprotective and refusal parenting attitudes, and promote affective parenting attitudes. The results suggest that the education system and society should consider changes to improve the self-directedness (autonomy) of adolescents.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The author declares no conflict of interests with respect to the authorship or publication of this article.

Figure 1.
Structural Equation Modeling for SWB (Emotional warmth Parenting Model).
fer-57-4-499f1.jpg
Figure 2.
Structural Equation Modeling for SWB (Rejection Parenting Model).
fer-57-4-499f2.jpg
Figure 3.
Structural Equation Modeling for SWB (Overprotection Parenting Model).
fer-57-4-499f3.jpg
Table 1.
Descriptive Statistics (N=325)
Variable Range Mean SD Skewness Kurtosis
Emotional warmth 1-5 2.99 .54 -.22 -.24
Rejection 1.64 .54 .90 .33
Overprotection 2.16 .54 .40 .71
SD1 0-3 1.46 .52 .28 -.00
SD2 1.69 .53 .23 -.15
SD3 1.59 .43 .14 .54
SD4 1.65 .55 .07 -.03
Self-directedness 1.60 .36 .38 .20
Emotional well-being 1-6 4.24 1.26 -.60 -.08
Psychological well-being 4.00 1.05 -.24 -.40
Social well-being 3.45 1.11 .06 -.39
Subjective well-being 3.84 .99 -.21 -.08

Note. M=mean; SD=standard deviation; SD1=Responsibility vs Blaming; SD2=Purposefulness vs Lack of goal direction; SD3=Resourcefulness vs Inertia; SD4=Selfacceptance vs Self-striving.

Table 2.
Correlation Analysis (N=325)
1 2 3 4 5
Emotional warmth 1
Rejection -.52*** 1
Overprotection -.18** .55*** 1
SD .41*** -.35*** -.22*** 1
Subjective well-being .47*** -.28*** -.13* .51*** 1

* p <.05,

** p <.01,

*** p <.001.

Table 3.
Direct, Indirect, Total Effects of Model
Emotional Warmth Parenting Model
Paths Direct effect Indirect effect Total effect
Emotional warmth Self-directedness .51*** - .51**
Emotional warmth Subjective well-being .22*** .30** .52**
Self-directedness Subjective well-being .58*** - .58**

Rejection Parenting Model
Paths Direct effect Indirect effect Total effect

Rejection Self-directedness -.44*** - -.44**
Rejection Subjective well-being .00 -.30** -.30**
Self-directedness Subjective well-being .69*** - .69**

Overprotection Parenting Model
Paths Direct effect Indirect effect Total effect

Overprotection Self-directedness -.39*** - -.39**
Overprotection Subjective well-being .11 -.28** -.17**
Self-directedness Subjective well-being .73*** - .73**

** p <.01,

*** p <.001.

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