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"I am just teasing you" : parental use of teasing in the context of parent-child relationships Miyazaki, Rena

Abstract

Despite its common occurrence, teasing between parents and children has received very little empirical attention. This study explores the intentions behind parental teasing by scrutinizing types of parental goals. Analyses were also conducted to examine power dynamics in teasing interactions between parents and children, and moderating effects of parental attributions for children's behavior across different teasing contexts. The sample consisted of 52 parents with children between the ages of 3 to 5 years living in the U.S and Canada. Participants responded to written assessments of parental goals and parental power depicted in hypothetical teasing interactions across six different scenarios. Results indicated that parents teased their children to have fun or to obtain compliance or obedience. Also, teasing was used to enhance the parent-child relationship and to promote parental wishes or a particular agenda. These goals, however, varied by the context within which the teasing interaction occurred. Under some circumstances, the type of parental goal had an effect on the level of parents' assertion of power. Parents' attributions for children's behavior were found to modify the relationship between compliance/socialization goals and level of parents' assertion in only one situation. Findings are discussed within the context of existing research on parental goals and behaviour, as well as power dynamics in parent-child relationships.

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