Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Glen Jenson


Glen Jenson


Jay Schvaneveldt


David Stone


The purpose of this study was to test the relevance of parent education for high school students in terms of interest, concerns, expectations and experiences of the adolescents regarding children. The ability to delay gratification and gender served as independent variables. Weaver's (1977) "Adolescent Interest Survey" was administered to 179 high school students enrolled in three different programs in semi-rural northern Utah. These programs were objectively classified to represent two levels of ability to defer gratification. Regular high school stud ents, male (N=51) and female (N=52) were treated as "deferrers of gratification". Potential dropout students, Males (N=26) and females (N=23) and females enrolled in a young mothers program (N=27) were treated as "nondeffers". Because regular high school students may be "deferrers" only because of family and other pressures, and because there may be governing situational differences which would otherwise render the student in potential dropout programs and young mothers programs, the sample was again divided subjectively on the basis of response to whether or not the subject planned on continuing his education beyond high school. A "future education" group, males (N=48) and females (N=55) and a "non-education" group, males (N= 30) and females (N=46) was devised to compare differences of responses in terms of subjective ability to defer gratification.

Three constellations of null hypotheses dealt with significant differences in (1) expressed parenting interests; (2) expectations of child development; and (3) experiences with children.

Results yielded interesting paradoxes. (1) Although young mothers are the most interested and most experienced of all the groups, their expectations of child development were the most liberal and unrealistic. (2) Although females are more interested and experienced than males, males have the more reasonable expectations of child development. (3) Although "non-deferrers" of gratification expect to marry and have children at an earlier age than "deferrers", "deferrers' prefer spouses and children as an adult priority, while "non-deferrers" prefer the things that money can buy--a car and a house.

The survey indicated that adolescents have relatively little or no interest in "children", and only mild interest in marriage and parenting. More interesting and relevant a r e present and self-referenced topics: money, pursuing a vocation, physical development (weight, height, complexion), clothes (girls) and sports (boys). The future and other-referenced goals of education for parenthood programs are presented as inappropriate for the adolescent who is more concerned with pimples and the present.