Do Parents' Educational Expectations in Adolescence Predict Adult Life Satisfaction?

Eunjoo Jung, Woosang Hwang, Yue Zhang, Ying Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the extent to which parents' educational expectations for adolescents are associated with children's life satisfaction in adulthood and whether that association is mediated by adolescents' individual characteristics. Background: Life satisfaction is acknowledged to be an important goal in a child's developmental path. However, less is known about the long-term influence of parental expectations on adolescents' positive life outcomes and how functioning in adolescents aside from parental expectations is related to these long-term associations. Method: Using data from the 2 cohorts of high school students and their parents who participated in the Longitudinal Study of American Youth from 1991 to 2010 (N = 2,289), direct and indirect paths from parental expectations to adulthood life satisfaction were tested within the structural equation modeling framework. Results: Parents' higher educational expectations for adolescents were positively related to their children's life satisfaction 2 decades later via children's expectations, self-esteem, and educational attainment. Parents' expectations were associated with higher self-esteem in the adolescent years through adolescents' expectations, which ultimately predicted adolescents' life satisfaction as adults. Conclusion: The level of expectations parents have for their children are related to their adolescents' life satisfaction 2 decades later, perhaps because expectations are associated with adolescents' educational attainment and self-esteem. Implications: Family practitioners and educators are encouraged to educate adolescents' parents about the link between their educational expectations and long-term educational attainment and life satisfaction for their children in adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)552-566
Number of pages15
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • adolescent self-esteem
  • child educational expectations
  • educational attainment
  • life satisfaction
  • parental expectations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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