Raising trophy kids: The role of mothers' contingent self-esteem in maternal promotion of extrinsic goals

J Adolesc. 2015 Jul:42:40-9. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2015.04.001. Epub 2015 Apr 21.


This study examined the role of mothers' child-invested contingent self-esteem, that is, their tendency to hinge their self-worth on their child's achievements, in maternal promotion of extrinsic goals, as perceived by adolescents. It was also examined whether maternal promotion of extrinsic goals would, in turn, relate to adolescents' Social Dominance Orientation (SDO). Participants were 184 mothers and their adolescent children (66% female). Maternal child-invested contingent self-esteem predicted adolescent-perceived maternal promotion of extrinsic goals, even when taking into account the variance shared between the promotion of extrinsic goals and mothers' use of a controlling parenting style. Maternal child-invested contingent self-esteem also moderated associations between mothers' personal pursuit of extrinsic goals and their promotion of those goals, such that the association between mothers' own extrinsic goals and their promotion of those goals was significant only among mothers high on child-invested contingent self-esteem. Maternal promotion of extrinsic goals was, in turn, related to adolescent SDO, suggesting that the dynamics examined in this study ultimately relate to adolescents' social and ideological development.

Keywords: Contingent self-esteem; Extrinsic-intrinsic; Goals; Parenting; Self-determination; Social dominance orientation.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Belgium
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mother-Child Relations / psychology*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Personality Development
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Self Concept*
  • Social Dominance
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult