According to the experts at MSUPE, the modern family is still quite conservative in transmitting basic norms and values to the younger generation. When the time comes to let their children go, not all parents are prepared psychologically to “part with them” so that they can build their life independently.
Scientists believe that the psychological separation of a young person from his or her parental family should be completed in a timely manner. As a result, young people will be able to reach a new level of relationship with their parents, realise their professional and personal potential in adulthood and create their own family.
The researchers at MSUPE studied how the psychological separation of young people from their parents is related to goal-setting and fulfilment. They concluded that psychological separation from parents at college-age is important for the development of goal-setting in different spheres of life.
The structural model of psychological separation includes several components – emotional (reduced dependence on parental disapproval); conflictual (freedom from excessive feelings of guilt, anxiety, distrust, responsibility); attitudinal (assessment of the situation based on one's own experience rather than that of parents) and functional (ability of the individual to ensure their existence independently of parents).
MSUPE researchers found in their study that young men achieve emotional separation from their parents and attitudinal and functional separation from their mother more quickly than girls. They demonstrate greater emotional independence, responsible decision-making, and independence in daily functioning. Young men are characterised by value purposes such as “productive life”, “intransigence” and “efficiency”. They are more satisfied with goal fulfilment and life productivity.
Young women show greater psychological dependence on their parents, strive to maintain an emotionally close and supportive relationship with their mother, and are guided by their parents' opinions and advice in making important decisions. They aim to realise traditional values such as “love”, “happy family life” and “diligence”.
Young men particularly benefit from psychological separation from both parents, and young women from their father. Fathers are more supportive of separation for both boys and girls and encourage them to achieve independence from parental approval, judgement and stance.
The authors believe that the study results will help them to develop programmes of differentiated psychological assistance for young people to take responsibility for independently setting and realising plans and goals in different areas of their lives.
“We have succeeded in revealing the peculiarities of psychological separation from parents of young men and women living in nuclear families. This contributes to the theoretical understanding of psychological patterns and ways of personality formation at college-age,” says Anna Litvinova, Associate Professor at the Department of Scientific Bases of Extremal Psychology of the Moscow State University of Psychology and Education.
In the future, the researchers plan to study the processes of psychological separation as a resource for the development of goal-setting in students from different types of families – single-parent, dysfunctional, inter-ethnic – which differ in their internal problematic tensions and contradictions.
The study results were published in the Psychological and Pedagogical Research Journal.