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This study investigated the influence of marital conflict and parental occupation on child academic achievement. Two hundred and fifty (250) participants comprising 128 males and 122 females participated in the study. Participants were randomly selected from 3 secondary schools. Their ages ranged between 17 to 37years with a mean age of 22.54 years (SD = 3.44). Two hypotheses were formulated for this study. Cross sectional design was adopted. Regression result indicated that Marital conflict was a significant predictor of academic achievement (β = -.14, t = -2.34, p< .05). Parental occupation (β = .14, t = 2.28, p< .05) was a significant predictor of academic achievement. Implications of the study were stated, and suggestions made for further studies.
Background of the Study
Academic achievement refers to how students deal with their studies and how they cope with or accomplish different tasks given to them by their teachers (Fantuzz, 1991). Academic achievement is the ability to study and remember facts and being able to communicate the facts and knowledge verbally or in writing (Grych, Seid, & Fincham, 1992) .The academic achievement of students may negatively correlate with the low parental socio-economic status level as it may prevent the individual in gaining access to sources and resources of learning (Duke, 2000 & Eamon, 2005). Flegm (2005) reports that in educational institutions, success is measured by academic achievement or how well a student meets the standards set by the institution.
Conflicts occur in all human societies but, it occurs in various degrees, marital conflict is that situation between man and woman (Drennan and Rhode ,2010).This is where husband and wife have different opinion about issues, events or activities which cannot be mutually resolved. Marital conflict usually arises mostly due to lack of understanding between the man and the woman. This comes in different ways such as difference in education and social backgrounds, physical maintenance, love making, extra marital affairs.
Researchers found that the way in which children understood the conflicts between their parents had different effects on their emotional and behavioural problems(Erel & Burman, 1995). Where children blamed themselves for the conflicts between their parents, they were more likely to have behavioural problems, such as anti-social behaviour (Harold, 2005). But if their parents' fighting or arguing led to a child feeling threatened, or fearful that the family would split up, the child was more likely to experience emotional problems, such as depression (Ajila ,2000). The impact of everyday conflict between parents on their children's behaviour and mental health is driven by how the children understand the problems in the relationship as well as the nature of the conflict itself, the researchers found (Erel & Burman, 1995). These disagreements include; hostile relationships between parents, poor parenting practices, negative parent-child relationships and maternal depression. Disagreement in marriages will inevitably arise, but it is the way the parents choose to respond o the discord that can create a positive or negative impact on the child (Erel & Burman, 1995).
Research has characterized negative marital conflict as comprised of five factors: intensity, frequency, consistency, content, and resolution, such that negative marital conflict is consistent over time, characterized by child-centered content, high intensity, frequently occurring, and lacking in a visible resolution to the child (Davis & Cummings, 1994; Erel & Burman, 1995). Negative conflict between parents is detrimental to children’s social, emotional, and cognitive development, and can damage their relationship with their parents (Cummings, Goeke-Morey, & Papp, 2004). The precise impact of marital conflict, however, varies based on the developmental stage and gender of the child (Cummings, 2004; Emery & O’Leary, 1982; Porter & O’Leary, 1980; Raver, 2014; Zimet & Jacob, 2001). Specifically, research indicates that toddlers who experience negative marital conflict perform worse on emotional identification tasks, and are less emotionally connected to their mothers (Jouriles 2002; Raver, 2014). By contrast, early school-aged children (i.e., between the ages of four and eight) often exhibit social delays as a result of exposure to negative marital conflict (El-Sheikh & Whitson, 2006; Fantuzzo, 1991; Fincham, Grynch & Osborne, 1994; Hershorn & Rosenbaum, 1985; Holden & Ritchie, 1991; Kelly, 2000). Extending across developmental stages, boys tend to present more with externalizing symptoms, such as aggression, while girls appear to have more challenges with internalizing symptoms (e.g., anxiety and depression; Jenkins & Smith, 1991;).
Although some research has documented the developmental effects of negative marital conflict on toddlers and school-aged children, the majority of research focuses on effects during adolescence. As with younger children, adolescents who are exposed to negative marital conflict display detriments to their social, emotional, and cognitive development, and also affect their academic achievement (Zimet & Jacob, 2001). However, adolescence is a time of intense physical, social, and emotional changes, making it imperative for researchers and interventionists alike to explore the particular influence of negative marital conflict on youth during this developmental stage (Cummings, 2004)
According to Marnot, (2004) Occupations are ranked into most prestigious occupation and lower ranking occupation. The most prestigious occupations are physicians, surgeons, lawyers, chemical & biomedical engineers, and communication analysts. While lower ranking occupation are food preparation workers, counter attendants, bartenders and helpers, dishwashers, janitors, maids and housekeepers, vehicle cleaners, and parking lot attendants. The job consider as high status in classification provides more challenging works, ability and greater control over working conditions. While those considered less valued in classification paid significantly less and more laborious, very hazardous and provided less autonomy. When parents have a better occupation, they make adequate provision for their children education,they provide economic, social, psychological and emotional support to their children, and this would make it possible for the children to perform well in their educational attainment (Zimet & Jacob, 2001) .
Memo, (2010) in their research on the impact of parental occupation on children academic achievement at secondary schools districts of Malir, Karachi, in Indian. They found that there was significance relationship between parents’ occupation and students’ academic achievement in matriculation examination. Students whose fathers have better occupation performed well in matriculation examination than those students whose fathers have a less prestigious occupation. Fathers with the high occupation are in a better condition to assist and encourage their children toward educational attainment. They can provide whatever is needed to support and encourage their children morally, intellectually, spiritually and psychologically. But parents with less prestigious occupation due to instability and financial problems cannot provide adequate modern facilities to enhance their children education. Mother’s occupation also influences students’ academic achievement. It was observed that students with a mother who have better occupation performed well in matriculation examination than their peers from mothers with less prestigious occupation.
Also Saifullahi, (2011) pointed out that parents’ occupation significantly influence students’ achievement. He used the data from three different colleges in Gujarat district. The result indicated that children of government employees secured more marks (60.02%) than the private job holders, because of the certainty and reliability of the government jobs. Parents with government jobs are more secured, and their families are at peace relatively compared to those who work in the private organisation. They are always in frustration and lack of confidence at been permanent. Likewise, occupation of the mother has an influence on students’ scores. The result of this study indicated that the maximum percentage of marks that is 64.5% is of students who mothers were government workers. So this seems that both fathers and mothers profession have a significant influence on students’ academic achievement (Adekey, A 2002).From the beginning parents are the primary persons involved in raising children in every society that is why the family is recognised as an important agent of socialization. Therefore, the importance of parent/family cannot be overemphasized.
Vellymalay, (2012) stated that a child’s capability to succeed in school depends on how successfully the child is managed by his/her parent in the environment. It is an environment where the child learns skills, attitude and behaviour that could mould them into productive and successful students. It is important to note that not every child comes from a home that could provide them with the requisite educational resource necessary for their academic success. In agreement with that, apparent socioeconomic status plays a significant role in providing these educational resources and appears to impose the greater impact on the child’s educational outcomes. Parental occupation is considered to have a place in academic achievement of students because the nature of occupation affects the time parents spend at work and at home and the attention they give to their children especially in their studies. Maternal employment has overall impact on the time mothers spend with their children, although one hour increase in employment is associated with a much smaller reduction in time spent with children. The truth is that the time consumed by one occupation differs from the other since the length of training differs as well. Some professions allow those engaged in them to have more time to themselves and these include teaching and lecturing, while other professions such as banking, piloting and sailoring take greater hours of those that are engaged in them. Although some parents with busy schedules may make all necessary provisions for their children’s education, children reared under such atmosphere may be delinquent and may not be serious academically despite all the provisions made for them. Children of average or poor parents may perform better because their parents have invested time in the children’s education. Hawthorne (2004) has stated that the role played by parents in their children education and general competencies in understanding and use of language in understanding some concepts cannot be ruled out. Moreover, some children tend to emulate their parents in whatever they do so as to become like them especially in the choice of career and this can propel them to work harder in their studies. Parents that are medical doctors may end up having one of their children interested in becoming a medical doctor and this may encourage the child to work hard in secondary school to achieve his/her aspiration in the future.
Statement of Problem
One wonders why our society has remained passively perplexed and helpless to the high increase of divorce rate which is a result and effect of marital conflicts in most societies, , it was still in the tradition for parents to choose marital partners for their children. This has been one of the major causes of marital conflict and possibly divorce because the spouses are not opportune to know and understand themselves before getting married.The rate of divorce in our locality is increasing because many get into marriage without been matured enough for it. This again is another factor of marital conflict in the society. Student’s academic achievement and graduation rates have been the area of interest for higher education institutions. Investigation of factors related to the academic achievement of university students become a topic of growing interest in higher educational circle. Many recent studies were carried out to explore factors that affecting university student’s academic achievement. Hanson (2000) reported that Student achievement is affected by different factors such as learning abilities, gender and race.
This study, therefore, sought to answer the following questions:
a. Will marital conflict significantly predict child academic achievement?
b. Would parental occupation significantly predict academic achievement?
Purpose of the Study
The objectives of this study include the following:
i. To find out if marital conflict will significantly influence child academic achievement
ii. To determine whether parental occupation will significantly influence child academic achievement
Significance of the Study
The result of this research study will be of significance and most beneficial to parents, education planners, children and school counselors in the following ways:-
a. It is significant for parents to be involved in their children’s academic activities as their profession may not be the reason for the children’s academic achievement but other factors such as the need to engage extra lesson teacher at home which may bring about better performance academically.
b. It will be of immense benefit to the educational planners as there will be an awareness through publication of this research work that parental profession has no effect on students‟ academic achievement; instead, if school libraries are equipped with modern textbooks and computers this may enhance better academic achievement.
c. It will help students to pay less emphasis on the type of job their parents engage in as it is not a reason for better/poor academic achievement but other factors like regular class attendance and completion of home work/assignment given by their subject teacher It will be of significance to school counselors so that they can provide the needed counseling to students that the profession of the their parents has nothing to do with their academic achievement but other factors like intelligence or diligence are responsible for better academic achievement.
Operational Definition of Terms
Marital conflict: refers to that situation where husband and wife have different opinion about issues, events or activities which cannot be mutually resolved as measured by Hurt-Insult-Threaten-Scream Scale (HITS) developed by Kevin, Sherin, James, Sinacore, Xiao-Qiang, Robert and AmerShakil (1998)
Parental occupation: is an economic and sociological combined total measure of a parent's work status.
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