Current research suggests that family leisure has encouraged the involvement and interaction with children in
a way that fulfills both parental and social discourse. The purpose of the study was to observe how pre-teens
from the ages of 12 to 14 are impacted by the relationships they have with their family environments inside and
outside of the home. The survey instrument observed the impact of family involvement on the maturation of pre-teens
(12-14 years of age). The results reflected that families are incorporating planned activities on either a weekly
or monthly basis and/or actively discussing family-related plans. In contrast, there was a significant lack of
whole family participation. As shown through various current research and the results of this study, family togetherness
and positive developmental influence are concepts that should be linked.
When time is spent in a setting embraced by the welcoming comfort of another person, a lasting impression on
emotional, physical, and mental behaviors is constructed. In the development of a family relationship, the establishment
of unity that allows the creation of individuality is essential to the quality of a young life. According to
Susan M. Shaw of Waterloo University and Don Dawson of the University of Ottawa (2001), in regard to the creation
of family unity, the character of children is developed by a “sense of family” that would “reflect
the idea of the family as an island of security and togetherness in a somewhat hostile world, which may interfere
with the family values and family cohesion” (Shaw & Dawson, 2001, p. 225). Throughout a number of
studies conducted by Gottlieb, Whittaker and Garnarino “social support provides evidence that quality relationships
can mediate the effects of crises and can promote positive mental health” (LeCroy & Winston, 1988,
p. 138). Through the engagement of the family unit the emotional, physical, social, and mental performance of
a child can be significantly influential in the betterment of society and quality of life.
The difference between activities planned by mothers and fathers has a great amount to do with the maternal
and paternal instincts each gender possesses. According to Serge Ginger, women are more likely to be more
attentive to matters of time and scheduling and have greater success in the area of keeping things organized,
whereas men are more prone to the facets of space and what will be accomplished in a more broad and long-term
sense (Ginger, 2003, p. 140). Studies suggested that there is “a tendency for mothers to talk more about immediate
concerns, such as children getting along, and for the fathers to focus more on long term concerns, such as
family cohesion and maintaining closeness in the future” (Shaw & Dawson, 2001, p. 224). This observation
was further supported as the types of activities that were planned by mothers were evaluated. “. . .
the mothers, talked about health and fitness as one of the benefits of physically active leisure pursuits…also,
the focus of the parents’ attention—was on the experiences and benefits for their children rather
than for themselves” (Shaw & Dawson, 2001, p. 225). Mothers were found to keep up family togetherness
through organization in the temporal sense, whereas men focused on bringing the family together with a more
time extensive outlook. Shaw and Dawson’s study also concluded that fatherly tendencies reflected activities
that would demonstrate “how to operate as a family, so that in life [family members] will know how a
family’s supposed to operate” (Shaw & Dawson, 2001, p. 226). This further shows that because
a male brain operates with a long-term perspective, fathers’ view of activities planned and the nature
of those activities will be different than the activities planned by mothers.
Gaining positive responses from adolescent children has been suggested to stimulate constructive growth in various
areas of life. A recent study implied that families who engage in activities or daily conversation with their
adolescent children in an encouraging manner had a much better opportunity to invoke a positive response (McNair & Johnson,
2009). According to Renae McNair and H. Durell Johnson of Pennsylvania State University, parents play an important
role in the development of adolescent school attitudes by influencing how their adolescents view the importance
of achievement (McNair & Johnson, 2009). Throughout their study they were able to correlate the significance
between family cohesion and family togetherness. High levels of parental involvement increased the likelihood
children will try to live up to their parent’s expectations as well as develop their own long-term academic
expectations (Gonzalez- DeHass, Willems, & Doan Holbein, 2005; Schneider & Stevenson, 1999). McNair
and Johnson concluded that the connection between contexts (i.e., home and school) was associated with the proximal
processes that influence adolescent development (McNair & Johnson, 2009). Throughout their study an inference
of positive response from an adolescent in regard to family-based time stemmed from a constructive outlook derived
from the parents’ perspective.
The amount of time families set aside to spend with each other plays a significant role in future behaviors
both mentally and emotionally in the life of their children. LeCroy and Winston suggested, “studies of
social support provide evidence that quality relationships can mediate the effects of crises and can promote
positive mental health” (LeCroy & Winston, 1988, p. 138). According to researchers, “ a general
hypothesis has been that more socially active parents have more successful children” (Buechel & Duncan,
1998, p. 106). Thus, better social networking produces a “stock of resources (social capital) that parents
or their children may draw on if needed” (Buechel & Duncan, 1998, p. 106). To counterbalance this hypothesis,
further study proved that, because of a mindset that is set to achieve success in the workforce while furthering
the success of a child, more harm than success was a frequent derivative. “Several studies support the
view that the degree of emotional involvement with parents is a predictor of problem behavior in adolescents” (LeCroy & Winston,
1988, p. 138). Taking the time to plan activities in which the whole family will be able to facilitate emotional,
behavioral, and social needs is the prime medium for beneficial family leisure as well as social discourse. The
frequency of family activities was significant in achieving a “strong sense of purpose that parents attached
to family participation and their determination and commitment to [that] aspect of family life” (Shaw & Dawson,
2001, p. 223).
Many families use sports as a way to not only keep physically active but also to engage in family leisure that
promotes life skills and positive habits. Unique lessons can be taught, not necessarily by the games being played
but by the way both mother and father contribute to overseeing and conducting the game. Studies of the differences
in functions of the male and female brain have shown that, because of the dominant hemispheres that are used
by each gender, “ [a] woman is more involved in verbal sharing and communication, while the man is more
prepared for action and competition (Ginger, 2003, p. 140). Shaw and Dawson implied that a “theme related
to family functioning, including the sub themes of family interaction and communication as well as family bonding
and cohesion,” was demonstrated in sports (Shaw & Dawson, 2001, p. 222). Through exemplifying how
men and women should communicate with each other in order to inculcate a strong bond of family, the mode of planned
sporting activities opens up an opportunity for the family unit to experience social, psychological, physical,
and cognitive benefits.
Participation of the whole family in planned activities is crucial for the outcome of distinct family unity.
Research has shown that “family systems are not chaotic and static, but are ordered and actively seek family
goals” (Zabriskie & McCormick, 2003, p. 166). Activities that have been planned for the purpose of
bringing the family together for comradeship as well as physical, emotional, and educational guidance are components
for social and developmental training that are most beneficial when conducted in a cohesive framework. Family
leisure activities appear to be most beneficial for the entire family system, much more than for couples alone” (Zabriskie & McCormick,
2003, p. 165). For profitable family leisure to occur, “goals are selected, support is generated among
members, and tactical steps are calculated. Progress is monitored and corrections are made through [an] ongoing
feedback loop” (Brockerick, 1993, p. 45). The purpose of whole family leisure is to improve “family
interaction and cohesion . . . a vehicle that [will] encourage positive interaction between family members .
. . and between parents and children” (Shaw & Dawson, 2001, p. 223). All must contribute for the production
and continuous structuring of effective family entity.
Confident communication skills and thoughtful input are some of the outcomes that stem from positive interaction
through family discussion. Zabriskie and McCormick indicated that “family leisure provides significant
opportunities for interaction both between family members as well as between the family and its environment,
which provides new input, energy, and challenge necessary for continued family system development” (2001,
p. 167). By upholding the concept of learning how to converse and show attention to different age groups and
genders through the various life stages of the family members, appropriate responses and clarity of thought develop.
Research found that “parents do indeed have considerable influence on their sons and daughter” as
they relate to situations that arise (Biddle, Bank, & Marlin, 1980, p. 138). Discussions that include the
whole family concerning activities to share enjoyment, problems, and sharing of information establish life skills
that will not only promote family leisure but will in turn result in satisfying family life.
In accordance with the above section devoted to family participation, family togetherness will not be fruitful
if not all members are willing to devote time and keep an open mind about planned activities intended for the
entire group. Although family members are entitled to their own opinion, “family roles and the lack of
support by family members are seen to be a constraint that pulls people away from desired participation in their
chosen hobby or serious leisure activity” (Shaw & Dawson, 2001, p. 219). According to a study conducted
by Shaw and Dawson (2001) on the outcome of planned leisure events and the level of enjoyment connected with
them, families indicated that the time spent together as a family was considered to be “a duty and responsibility
. . . not intrinsically motivated but was goal oriented and directed toward particular extrinsic benefits . .
. and it involved a lot of work” (Shaw & Dawson, 2001, p. 228). Contrary to the seemingly negative
outlook, the overall judgment of the time spent together was positive. Another study indicated that “a
family’s joint leisure involvement is positively related to family satisfaction, and family satisfaction
is a primary indicator of the quality of family life” (Zabriskie & McCormick, 2003, p. 163).
The purpose of the study was to observe how
pre-teens from the ages of 12 to 14 are impacted by the relationships they have with their family environments
inside and outside of the home. The following research questions were used in the study:
1. How are parents executing family time?
2. What is the response of the pre-teen demographic in regard to substantial time spent with the
The survey instrument used in this study was designed to measure the impact of family involvement on the maturation
of pre-teens (12-14 years of age) through the way parents are executing family time and the response of the pre-teen
demographic in regard to substantial time spent with the whole family. A personal data sheet requested demographic
data in addition to responses to five survey questions. The survey instrument was distributed to 12-14 year old
students enrolled at Santa Clarita Christian School, Santa Clarita, California. They received the survey instrument
from their teacher, the teachers collected the survey instruments, and the survey instruments were returned to
the researcher through the administrative assistant, Mrs. Corona Mayhugh.
STATPAK was employed to examine the data; the desired scale of measurement was nominal. The nominal scale
was used because it is a measurement that “provides for categories and permits counting how many are in
each category” (Joseph & Joseph, 1986, p. 54). The data were collected by a survey instrument composed
of four questions describing the demographic data and five questions with responses based on a Yes or No scale.
The One-Dimensional Chi-Square statistical test was utilized because it is “most often used with nominal
data” (Joseph & Joseph, 1986, p. 182). A .05 level of significance was used to test the results of
the study. Data retrieved from the demographic portion of the survey instrument were reported in statements and
The subjects sampled for this study were junior high students ranging from the ages of 12 to14 years old attending
Santa Clarita Christian School, spring semester 2009. One hundred fifty-three copies of the survey instrument
were distributed; one hundred fifty-three were returned and eighty-two were used in this study. The data collected
from the eighty-two subjects are discussed in subsequent sections, commencing with the reporting of the
demographic findings. The survey instrument indicated that 18.29 percent of the students were in 6th grade, 48.78
percent were in 7th grade, while 32.93 percent were in 8th grade. It indicated that 37.8 percent of the students
were 12 years old, 43.9 percent were 13 years old, while 18.3 percent were 14 years old. The survey indicated
that 15.85 percent of the students’ activities were planned by their fathers, 18.29 percent of the students’ activities
were planned by their mothers, while 64.84 percent of the students’ activities were planned by the family
as a whole. Lastly, 84.15 percent of the students said that they would like to spend more time with their whole
family, while 15.85 percent of the students said they would not like to spend more time with their whole family.
Table 1 summarizes the responses of the survey instrument.
Research Question One
How are parents executing family time? Questions 5, 6, and, 8 of the survey located in Appendix A addressed
this research question.
The results of survey questions 5 and 6 inferred that the respondents frequently experience positive outcomes,
experiencing family togetherness whether the activities are chosen and discussed by the family or whether they
are pre-planned events.
Table 1 Summary of Responses to Survey Questions
Computed Chi-Square Value
Tabled Chi-Square Value
The results of the analysis revealed that the calculated value was at the .05 significance level and suggested
that parents are taking the time to plan and engage in activities with their children on a weekly or monthly
basis. Also, the results indicated that planned family-based activities include sporting events. Likewise, the
respondents indicated that the planning of family-based activities was discussed as a family unit.
The findings for question five align with LeCroy & Winston (1988) whose study suggested that quality relationships
promote positive mental health. Buechel & Duncan (1998) implied that when parents are more socially active
in the lives of their children, a better chance for success may occur and that children will feel more inclined
to draw on parental resources if necessary.
The findings for question six align with Shaw & Dawson (2001) whose studies proposed that families who function
together through participation in such events as sports were more inclined to have better quality communication
as well as family cohesion. Within the category of sporting events, Ginger (2003) noted that the female brain
communicates on a verbal level while the male brain communicates better when competition and the preparation
for action is involved, implying that when both genders are involved a more effective communication level is
The findings for question eight align with the research conducted by Zabriskie & McCormick (2003) showing
that the influence of practiced communication skills throughout the family encourages new input, energy, and
the exemplification of how to properly interact with others. Biddle, Bank & Marlin (1980) perceived that
there was a relationship between family discussion and family influence on the maturation of a pre-teen and their
Research Question Two
What is the response of the pre-teen demographic in regard to substantial time spent with the whole family?
Questions 7 and 9 of the survey addressed this research question.
The results of the analysis revealed that the calculated valueof question 7 was notat the .05 significance level
and suggested that there is a lack of participation amongst the family as a whole. The Chi-square analysis also
revealed that the calculated value of question 9 was at the .05 significance level and suggested that planned
time meant to be spent as a whole family was time that was anticipated.
The findings for question 7 do not align with the current research of families who participate in planned activities.
Zabriskie & McCormick (2003) suggested that when families seek to set goals together and they strive to reach
the goals, they grow together as a family unit. Shaw & Dawson (2001) also suggested that positive interaction
between all members of the family would encourage the engagement and progress of both family interaction and
cohesion. Broderick (1993) further suggested that, as goals are set among the family unit, a support system could
provide for successful whole family interaction.
The findings for question 9 contrasted with the findings from the study conducted by Shaw & Dawson (2001),
which suggested that family leisure was not inherently motivated and was considered to be the bearer of more
work than enjoyment. In affirmative correlation with the results of this study, the opposing view of Zabriskie & McCormick
(2003) implied joint leisure involvement to be the prime indicator of family satisfaction.
The resulting statistical analysis displayed considerable evidence that the role of family togetherness in the
life of a pre-teen indicated that they enjoy spending time with their family and would like to spend more time
in a family-centered environment. They frequently experienced positive outcomes whether the activities were chosen
and discussed by the family or whether they were pre-planned events. There was a lack of participation amongst
the family as a whole, and planned time meant to be spent as a whole family was time that was anticipated.
The following conclusions appear warranted:
- Families are executing family time in manners that are frequent and effective.
- The response of pre-teens in regard to substantial time spent with the whole family is negatively reflected
through whole family participation and positively reflected through anticipating spending time together as
The findings of this study yielded some interesting results. The majority of respondents indicated that they
enjoy spending time with their family and would also like to spend more time in a family-centered environment.
The findings of this study along with various research sources imply that family togetherness and positive developmental
influence are areas that should be linked. Family togetherness, as shown throughout the results provided by the
study, enveloped the significant role in the way a pre-teen’s pattern of thinking is being directed through
the execution of family time by way of parental involvement.
Whether or not pre-teens enjoy the activities that are being planned and/or discussed, engagement by parents
as well as siblings apart of the family unit may evoke constructive or detrimental repercussions depending on
the way the time is used. It can be concluded that the influence of family togetherness on pre-teen junior high
students has the potential to affect societal behaviors.
Limitations of the Study
Several limitations to this study existed. Only junior high students enrolled in Santa Clarita Christian School
were surveyed. This study was limited to students in the 12 through 14-year-old age bracket. Also, the study
was only conducted during the spring 2009 semester. Although the findings for this study pertain mainly to the
individual Santa Clarita Christian School, a general trend may be observed and conclusions drawn.
Recommendations for Further Study
This study provided some information regarding the impact of family involvement on the maturation of pre-teens
(12-14 years of age). Additional questions pertaining to the impact of family involvement on the maturation of
pre-teens (12-14 years of age) warrant further investigation; thus, the following recommendations for further
research and study are offered:
- This study should be replicated, using a different population to observe the impact on family involvement
on the maturation of pre-teens (12-14 years of age).
- This study should be conducted to determine whether or
not the impact of family involvement has a more significant influence on the maturation of a high school age
student (15-18 years of age) as opposed to a pre-teen (12-14 years of age).
- The effects of frequently attended after school or extra-curricular organized programs as opposed to parental
involvement should be studied.
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This study is to observe how junior high students spend time with their families. Please circle or fill in the
most accurate response to each question.
- I am in 6th 7th 8th grade.
- I am 12 13 14 years
- Family activities are planned by
____ My Father ____
My Mother ____ Everyone
in the family
- Would you like to spend more time with your whole family?
- Do your parents plan activities for the whole family weekly or monthly?
- Are the activities that are planned sporting events?
- Do all members of your family participate in planned activities?
- Are activities discussed as a family?
- Are the times spent with your whole family times that you look forward to?
Thank you for your time and honesty!