Type of Document Dissertation Author Wilson, Cynthia B. Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-03052010-145414 Title Understanding Stress and the Quality of Life for Adolescent Children of Clergy: A Retrospective Study Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Family and Child Sciences, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Carol Darling Committee Chair Marsha Rehm Committee Member Gary Peterson University Representative Keywords
- Quality of Life
Date of Defense 2010-02-23 Availability unrestricted AbstractChildren of clergy live within a unique family context that has been identified as having distinct needs based on the social environment in which they live. Although research has shown that clergy families experience a variety of stressors, very little attention has been given to children of clergy. Thus, it is important to better understand the various pressures that children of clergy experience and the impact these have on their perceived quality of life. The goal of this study was to examine the stressors that adult children of clergy experienced while growing up, and how the resources they had for coping, along with their perceptions of their experiences, affected their perceived quality of life they had as adolescents, as well as their current perceived quality of life as an adult. Gender differences were examined to determine if male and female children of clergy differ in their levels of stress, coping, perceptions, and quality of life. This project also sought to determine how identity formation would be affected by growing up in this unique context. Using the ABC-X model and Family Stress Theory, the interactive effect of individual and family stress, individual and family coping resources, and sense of coherence on overall perceived quality of life as adolescents (retrospectively) and currently as adults was examined.
The sample used for the study consisted of adult children of clergy whose parents were in ministry while they were growing up, along with a comparison sample of adult non-clergy children. Clergy members were randomly selected from a mailing list from a clergy support center that provides services to clergy members from all across the United States. Clergy members received a letter with information about the research project and a request to forward the letter to an adult child, which included a link to the online survey. The comparison sample received an email invitation to participate with the link to the survey. Respondents were asked to complete an online survey consisting of demographic items and six instruments used to measure the variables of interest to this study. Additional questions were provided at the end of the questionnaire for children of clergy only, which included additional demographic items and open-ended items. The Stressors of Clergy Children and Couples Scale was used to measure individual stress, and the Family Inventory of Life Events and Changes was used to measure family stress. The Adolescent Coping Orientation for Problem Experiences was used to measure individual coping, and the Family Crisis Oriented Personal Evaluation Scales was used to measure family coping. The Sense of Coherence scale was used to measure sense of coherence. Finally, the Satisfaction With Life Scale was used to measure perceived quality of life, both as adolescents (retrospectively) and currently as adults. Two hypotheses and three research questions were used in the study to examine the quality of life of children of clergy. The original null hypothesis was that there would be no observed difference between male children of clergy, female children of clergy, male children of non-clergy, and female children of non-clergy in terms of the variables of interest. However, during the path analyses, gender had no significant effects on the path model and was subsequently dropped. Therefore, a second null hypothesis was added to compare the totals of clergy and non-clergy children, without comparing gender.
Analysis of variance, along with Tukey’s post-hoc procedure, was used to determine if significant differences existed among the four different groups of children of clergy (when considering gender), and between total clergy versus total non-clergy. Analyses demonstrated that the quality of life of the clergy children studied was influenced not only by the intensity of the stressors they experienced, but also by their resources for coping and their sense of coherence about their situations. Children of clergy reported greater perceived retrospective levels of individual and family stress than children of non-clergy. No differences were found between children of clergy and children of non-clergy in terms of individual and family coping. However, children of clergy did report a lower sense of coherence than children of non-clergy. Children of clergy reported a lower quality of life as adolescents, but no differences were found in quality of life as adults.
Path analyses were conducted to examine the interactive effect of stressors, coping resources, and sense of coherence on quality of life as adolescents, as adults, and as adolescents and adults when modeled together. Significant direct relationships were found between perceived retrospective quality of life for adolescents and family stress, individual coping, and sense of coherence. Additionally, direct relationships were found between individual stress and quality of life as adolescents on quality of life as adults. Sense of coherence provided the greatest total influence on quality of life as adolescents, whereas quality of life as adolescents provided the greatest total influence on quality of life as adults.
Several implications for theory, research, and practice were discussed. This project provided a good example of the utility of Hill’s original Model of Family Stress, since it provided for the path modeling used in the predictive analysis of the study. The model also highlighted the effect of mediating variables such as coping and sense of coherence between stress and quality of life in clergy children, since greater individual resources for coping and sense of coherence about their situation resulted in a higher quality of life. Implications for Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development were also provided, which can be used to examine identity formation in the adolescent children of clergy, and how the quality of their lives was shaped by the unique social environment in which they were raised. Additional research is still needed to examine the validity of stereotypes, racial differences, denominational differences, and further exploration of identity formation in children of clergy. Implications were also provided for clergy families themselves, congregations, and helping professionals. These included balancing the demands of the family and church, examining the effect of expectations by families and congregations, providing additional support services, and enhancing the coping skills and perceptions necessary to improve the quality of life of children of clergy.
Filename Size Approximate Download Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds)
28.8 Modem 56K Modem ISDN (64 Kb) ISDN (128 Kb) Higher-speed Access Wilson_C_Dissertation_2010s.pdf 8.73 Mb 00:40:25 00:20:47 00:18:11 00:09:05 00:00:46