Parental conflict is a prevalent problem that threatens the social adjustment of adolescence children both in developed and developing nations. Despite evidence of parental conflicts in Kenyan families, there is scarce literature on the relationship of parental conflict and social adjustment of adolescence. This study sought to establish the frequency of parental conflict in families of students in secondary schools in Murang‘a County; To find out the types of parental conflicts in families of students in secondary schools in Murang‘a County; To assess the level of social adjustment of students in secondary schools in Murang‘a County; To examine the relationship between parental conflict and social adjustment of adolescent children in secondary schools in Murang‘a County; and To find out if there is any gender differences in social adjustments of students in secondary schools in Murang‘a County. The study was guided by attachment and interpersonal theories.This study employed a descriptive survey design with a quantitative approach. The study target population was 108,774 secondary school students in Murang‘a County. A Stratified random sampling was applied to draw a sample size of 400 students. Standardized instruments were used to collect data from the students. The Social Adjustment Scale developed by Reda-Norton was used to measure social adjustment among the students while frequency of parental conflict and type of parental conflict was assessed using the Children’s Perception of Inter-parental Conflict Scale (CPIC). Data collected was coded and processed using the Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21. Quantitative data collected was analyzed to generate descriptive statistics including frequencies, percentages and mean. Correlations between parental conflicts and social adjustment of adolescence were established using Pearson‘s Product Moment Correlation Coefficients. The study showed that 55.8% reported low frequency of parental conflicts while 24.8% reported high frequency. On type of parental conflicts, the students reported perceiving both constructive and destructive parental conflicts with majority perceiving constructive conflicts. On social adjustment the students were predominantly pro-social with 62.3% rating themselves high on pro-social, 74.3% rated themselves low in offensive interpersonal behaviours and 74.8%rated themselves low in delinquency behaviours. The study revealed that there was a positive and significant relationship between type of parental conflicts perceived and social adjustment of the students. The Pearson (r) correlation coefficient between parental conflicts and both offensive and delinquent behaviours were positive and significant at (r(257) = 0.241, P< 0.05) and (r(260) = 0.171, P< 0.05) respectively. However, the relationship between parental conflicts and pro-social was negative but not significant. The study also revealed gender difference in social adjustment of the students. A t-test result of the students social adjustment mean scores showed that there was gender differences in delinquent behaviors at and (t= -3.384, df = 319, P< 0.05) respectively. Thus more males than females were more likely to show delinquent behaviours in response to experienced parental conflicts. However, no difference was found in respect to pro-social behaviours and offensive interpersonal behaviours. The findings of the student were in support of both attachment and interpersonal theories. The study recommended that schools strengthen counseling department to help students with social adjustment challenges. The study also recommended premarital education and counseling, couples counseling and community awareness creation on the harm of destructive parental conflicts to their entire family.
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
- Background to the Study
The purpose of the study was to establish the relationship between parental conflict and social adjustment of adolescents. Adolescent is a period at which individuals develop self-identities and is one of the most challenging periods in an individual‘s development (Jayachandran, 2017). Studies have shown that Adolescence is a time of new challenges and new opportunities. Some adolescents do not negotiate these challenges positively and develop personal and social problems, which lead towards their maladjustment. Parental conflict varies depending on the frequency and type (Ernest-Ehibudu, Ijeoma, Obikoya, & Oluwatoyin, 2017). Social adjustment have different levels such as delinquency behaviours, offensive interpersonal behaviour or pro-social behaviour (Lee, 2018) and varies depending on the gender of the adolescents (Jayachandran, 2017).
Stability of marriage is determined by the level of unity among family members (Wu, Wong, Yu, Fok,Yeung, Lam and Liu (2016). However, more times than not conflicts are unavoidable in a marriage. Conflict within the family is a common contemporary phenomenon and greatly impact on the children in homes as seen among adolescents in United States of America (Kumar & Mattanah, 2017). Conflicts in a marriage may result into undesired psychological issues. Ubaidi (2017) asserts that children from a marriage characterized with persistent conflicts in Ghana, are predisposed to challenges in their future relationships. Such predispositions are influenced by the types of the conflicts a child is exposed to at home. The nature of conflict that is
harmful to children largely depends on how the parents conduct themselves during such conflicts.
According to Kusekwa (2016), in a study in Dar es Salaam and Coast Region of Tanzania, parental conflict can be defined as anger that is overtly expressed, hostility and disagreement between husband and wife. Nan, Hongjian, & Esther (2017) notes that a distressed couple is normally characterized by interactions that marked by mutual negativity, physical aggression and escalating anger. The causes of parental conflict are many and may differ depending on the circumstances of the couples involved. National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (2017) gives several causes of parental conflicts such as incompatibility, role confusion, behavioural contingencies, dissatisfaction and communication are among the most common causes of parental conflicts.
Parental conflicts take various forms depending on how conflicts between married individuals are expressed and managed. Jayachandran (2017) in a study in India classifies parental conflicts as either destructive or constructive. According to Jayachandran (2017), destructive parental conflict includes inter-parental aggression or violence, withdrawal during conflict, non-verbal conflict, inter-parental and parent- child verbal hostility, aggression by members directed towards objects, threats and conflicts about child related themes. On the other hand, Jayachandran (2017) defines constructive conflict as the one that exists when parents agree on how conflict can be resolved and how the conflict is not a serious threat and eventually can be worked
Kariuki and Aloka (2015) states that parents who are happily married are sensitive, affectionate, warm, and responsive towards their adolescent children. More importantly, parents play a critical role in the social adjustment of their children since they have influence in socializing their teenage children through inculcation of values and nurturing self-identity development (Alam, 2017). Mathil (2016) observes that when children witness parental conflicts their social adjustments is affected and are likely to become distraught, since conflicts disrupt children‘s human development as explained further by Interpersonal Theory. In addition, parental conflicts are likely to disrupt such parental support resulting to difficulties in adolescent social adjustment as explained by attachment theory (Jayachandran, 2017). In this regard, Alkali (2016) defines social adjustment as the process and efforts by adolescents in developing relationship outside the immediate family set-up, which determines how he/she fits within the society as an independent person.
Wu, Wong, Yu, Fok,Yeung, Lam and Liu (2016) observes that destructive parental conflicts can have both direct and indirect effects on the relationships between parents and children and adjustment of the child. Alam (2017) notes that children respond and adjust to parental conflict by either internalizing or externalizing the effects. Children internalize the effects of conflict through their emotional reactions; they could either show lots of mixed emotions or no emotions at all (showing withdrawal symptoms). According to Bhagat (2016), children‘s emotional reaction to parental conflicts is understood as the reflections of the child‘s social adjustment problems regarding their
family sub-system. If children interpret the conflict as threatening to the security and stability of themselves and their family, they would have feeling of powerlessness and feelings of hopelessness. Makwana and Kaji (2014) assert that children in Ahmedabad Gujarat District in India normally show genuine concern towards their parent‘s well-being, and as such, any physical distress can activate a child‘s empathy and feelings of sorrow for the parents. When children internalize the effects, they often seem to withdraw and adjust poorly to peer (social) relations.