Exploring the link between parental social control for physical activity and relationship quality


Parental social control (SC) has been associated with children and adolescents' physical activity behavior (Wilson & Spink, 2011). SC reflects ones regulatory attempts to prompt or persuade another to perform a desired behavior (Lewis & Butterfield, 2005). In adults, SC attempts also have been associated with relationship satisfaction (Reich & Olmsted, 2007). As such, this study explored the relationship between perceptions of parental SC and parents' and children's perceptions of relationship quality. Thirty dyads consisting of one parent (24 mothers & 6 fathers) and one child (15 girls & 17 boys, aged 8-15years) completed an online questionnaire that asked about the social control the parents exerted (Wilson & Spink, 2010) and the parent-child relationship quality (Hair et al., 2008). Actor, Partner Independence Models (Kashy & Kenny, 2000) were specified using multilevel modeling (Cook & Kenny, 2005). Relationship quality was the outcome variable and a separate model was performed for each of the SC types (positive, collaborative and negative). Findings from the model with positive SC revealed that neither the actor or partner effects were significant (ps >0.1) suggesting that positive SC use was unrelated to relationship quality. For collaborative SC, a partner effect approached significance (b=0.14, p=0.1). Parents who perceived higher collaborative SC had children who perceived higher relationship quality. For negative SC, there was a significant actor effect for the child such that when children perceived more negative SC, they reported a lower relationship quality (b=-0.14, p=0.01). These findings provide some support for the link between SC and relationship quality.