2011. Vol.2, No.5, 502-508
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/psych.2011.25078
Parent-Child Relationships in Poland and Germany: A
Retrospective Study
Jochen Hardt1, Malgorzata Dragan2, Sonja Schultz3, Anette Engfer4
1Medical Psychology and Medical Sociology, Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and
Psychotherapy, School of Medicine, University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany;
2Faculty of Psychology, University of Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland;
3Psychosomatics, Hohenfeld-Kliniken, Bad Camberg, Hessen, Germany;
4FB 2: Psychology, University of Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany.
Received February 17th, 2011; revised April 26th, 2011; accepted June 2nd, 2011.
The Childhood Questionnaire (CQ) was designed for adults to retrospectively describe their relationships with
their parents. A cross-national survey was performed to test the intelligibility and precision of the questions and
to explore cultural differences. A sho rt v ersion of the CQ was administered to two samples via Internet, one each
in Poland and Germany. It contained four dimensions concerning each parent: perceived love, control, ambition
and role reversal, all of which could be assessed reliably in both Poland and Germany. It was concluded that the
Childhood Questionnaire is suitable for research in both countries. Characteristic differences between the re-
spondents of the two coun tries can be explained as a function of history.
Keywords: Parent-Child Relationships, Family Atmosphere, Psychometric Assessment, Cross-National Survey
With the development of Bowlby’s attachment theory (1951;
1958; 1969; 1973), parent-child relationships became widely
studied in psychotherapy and research. Today, we see long-
term associations of attachment with many outcomes in youth
and adulthood (Fergusson & Horwood, 2001; Galea, 2010;
Gilreath, King, Graham, Flisher, & Lombard, 2009; Rork &
Morris, 2009) One of the first instruments to assess attachment
was a standard observational procedure for very young children
(ages 12 to 18 months) called the Strange Situation test (Ains-
worth, Blehar, Waters & Wall, 1978). In this procedure, the
child was separated repeatedly from his or her mother for a
short time in a laboratory with many toys, and the child’s reac-
tions were coded during separations and reappearances of the
mother. In this standardised stress situation, Ainsworth et al.
(1978) first identified three attachment styles: Style B (bonded)
characterised securely bonded children who tolerated the
mother’s short absence but demonstrated openly that they were
happy to see her when she returned. Insecurely bonded children
were divided into two groups: Style A (avoidant) children did
not seem to care about the mother’s return and only demon-
strated disinterest. Style C (insecure-ambivalent or insecure-
resistant) clung to the mother when she came back and did not
want to resume playing. Later, a fourth attachment style was
added, style D (disorganised) (Ainsworth & Eichberg, 1991).
Style D children differed from the others in that they displayed
behaviours of both style A and style C but were clearly not
securely bonded. Later, various measures were developed to
retrospectively assess attachment in adults (George, Kaplan &
Main, 1985; Kobak, 1993; Pilkonis, 1988; Zimmer- mann,
1999). For these measures, the interviewer determines a classi-
fication for as many as 16 dimensions. These dimensions con-
stituted the foundation for the development of the Childhood
The aforementioned measures are comparatively time-con-
suming and result in a classification, i.e. subjects are grouped
into categories. Rutter (1995) pointed out that this understand-
ing of attachment in terms of categories is not necessarily opti-
mal; it may be better to represent attachment security in one or
more dimensions. In addition, it may be necessa ry to assess not
only one attachment style per child, but also different ones for
the child’s relationship with various caregivers, e.g. mother and
father. A variety of questionnaires have been developed that
assess dimensions of the parent-child attachment, including
separate responses for mothers versus fathers. Two well-known
questionnaires are the Parental Bonding Inventory (PBI: Parker,
1989) and the Egna Minnen Beträffende Uppfostran, which
means “my memory about childhood” (EMBU: Perris, Jacobs son,
Lindstrröm, von Knorring, & Perris, 1980). Both questionnaires
contain scales for emotional warmth and control. In addition,
the PBI contains a scale for abuse (in the newest version:
Parker et al., 1997), and the EMBU, a scale for preference of a
certain child among siblings.
The Childhood Questionnaire
The Childhood Questionnaire was originally developed to
assess the dimensions that were used in the Adult Attachment
Interview (George et al., 1985). Subjects were asked to describe
the relationship between themselves and their mothers and fa-
thers during the first 14 years of life. Out of 11 dimensions that
were originally conceptualised, nine were retained after item
analysis (Engfer, 1997; Hardt, Egle & Engfer, 2003). Research
over the past decade using eight of the nine scales (Hardt, 2004;
Hardt, Egle & Johnson, 2007) led us to shorten the Childhood
Questionnaire to four scales for each parent: 1) perceived love,
2) control, 3) ambition, and 4) role reversal. We excluded pun-
ishment, trivialising punishment, parent as a model, competi-
tion between siblings, and the subject’s relationship with the
parents today. Each of the remaining scales was restricted to
five items. Furthermore, some items were modified because
they did not represent the core construct as precisely as neces-
sary to build a reliable five-item scale. In addition, the Child-
hood Questionnaire contains a four-item scale on socioeco-
nomic status and some individual items on separation and di-
vorce of the parents, eventual death of either or both of the
parents, and education and occupation of the parents during the
subject’s childhood. If one or both parents died, separated, or
did not contribute to bringing up the child for any reason, re-
spondents were asked to mark the scale items in regard to the
person who took over the respective role for the most time dur-
ing their childhood. All scales were to be answered according
to a four-point Likert scale with the categorie s “not true at all”,
“hardly true”, “rather true”, and “absolutely true”. The scores
were computed as the unweighted sums of the items. There
were no missing items in the Internet surveys; when an item
was left open, the instrument prompted the respondent for an
answer before switching to the next page. The instruction and
items of the Childhood Questionnaire were translated from
German into Polish by a native Polish speaker. The Polish item
set was then translated back into German by a native German
speaker who had never seen the questionnaire before. The back
translations were checked by JH and discussed with MD. The
polish version was modified accordingly to become identical in
both languages and comprehensive for our understanding of the
scales concept. The questionnaire can be viewed at www. in English, Polish, and German.
A total of 508 Polish and 500 German subjects were asked
via Internet to fill out a questionnaire containing about 280
items. The present version of the Childhood Questionnaire,
which contains about 60 items, appeared last in the set of items.
Participants were registered at a commercial company to fill out
online questionnaires, most of which were used for market
research. The participants were informed that the present ques-
tionnaire served research purposes and that we were interested
in mental health in combination with various circumstances of
life. During data collection, information in Polish and German
was displayed on the homepage of the University of Mainz to
enable the participants to verify the scientific background of the
study. Respondents received compensation of about € 4,30 for
filling out the questionnaire. The ethics commissions of the
Landesärtztekammer Rheinland-Pfalz (Nr 837.185.07) and the
University of Duesseldorf (5720) approved the project. Data
collection was performed by a professional marketing institute
( Some personal feedback from indi-
vidual participants was rather positive; they commented that the
questionnaire was interesting to fill out.
The subjects were 39 years old on average, more than half in
each country was female. The majority had a spouse or partner.
In Poland and Germany, about 90% and 50% respectively be-
lieved in a Christian religion. Additional characteristics of the
samples are displaye d in Table 1.
3.2 Statistical Analysis
The first step of the analysis was to compare item and sub-
score means between Poland and Germany via t-tests. On the
item level, only significant differences were reported. In a sec-
ond step, convergent and discriminant item correlations were
displayed for both countries. Since strong differences exist
between Poland and Germany regarding religion, jobstatus and
socio-economic status, a mutiple regression analysis was per-
formed for each scale containing the variables age (with a linear
and quadratic term), gender (0 female, 1 male) jobstatus of the
parents (the highest status either of mother or father, coded 0
low and 6 high), religion (0 no religion, 1 any religion),
socio-economic status (a scale from the CQ, 0 low - 3 high) and
country (0 Poland, 1 Germany). Interaction terms were not
included into this regression, because with six variables a total
of 15 terms could be formulated. To our experience, regression
analyses become unstable when so many interactions are tested.
Finally, age-, and country-related effects were displayed
graphically. The alpha level for all statistical tests was set to .01
(two-tailed). Hence, effect sizes for cross-national mean com-
parisons (Cohen, 1988) of d < .16 were non-significant in the
present analysis. This alpha level was set to balance statistical
and clinical significance. All t-values have degrees of freedom
(df) of about 1006, F values in the regression analyses have
7;1000 df. So df. are not reported. No trends were interpreted.
Calculations were performed using ITAMIS (Kohr, 1978) and
STATA 9.0 (StataCorp, 2004).
Table 1.
Sample description.
Poland Germany
N = 508 N = 500 Test for differences
Gender: % female 56.3 55.4 X² = 0.083, p < 0.774
(sd) 38.7 (14.4)39.3 (11.2) t = 0.813, p = 0.417
Religion(%) Chr i stian87 48
Other 4 3
None 9 49 X² = 0.192, p < 0.001
Living with a partner78 85 X² = 7.45, p = 0.006
Job status (%)
professional 15
professional 40
Skilled non-manual
employee 18
Skilled manual
employee 9
Partly skilled worker5
Unskilled labourer 7
househusband 7 X² = 154, p < 0.001
Item Characteristics in Polish and German
The patterns of item loadings for the relationships with
mothers and fathers are displayed in Tables 2(a) and 2(b). Role
reversal in Polish mothers had a Cronbach’s alpha of only about
0.69; all the other scales displayed good to excellent values.
The differences between congruent and discriminant item cor-
relations were very clear for most items, i.e. there was a high
correlation of an item with its own scale and lower correlations
with the foreign scales. In the Polish version for mothers, one
item of the scale “control” did not discriminate well (item 12,
“spied on me”), and one item in the scale “ambition” (item 17,
“should not fail”) had a higher correlation with the scale “control”.
Both items discriminated weakly among Polish fathers as well.
As measured by Cronbach’s alpha, the reliability of the
four-item scale on socioeconomic status was 0.76 in Poland and
0.81 in Germany.
Table 2.
Cronbachs alpha for sc a l e s a n d c o r rected convergent and divergent correl ations for items.
Poland Germany
Love 0.920.95
4 Was affectionate to me 0.78–0.390.050.050.90 –0.54 –0.13–0.30
5 Was always there 0.74–0.340.030.020.85 –0.50 –0.09–0.36
18 Showed understanding 0.79–0.440.000.020.86 –0.56 –0.14–0.29
20 Concealment 0.84–0.420.030.020.90 –0.54 –0.12–0.31
22 Closeness 0.80–0.340.060.060.80 –0.46 –0.07–0.26
Control 0.84 0.84
7 Forced her will upon me –0.440.70 0.420.24–0.41 0.71 0.470.45
10 Told me not to talk back –0.430.700.460.31–0.53 0.55 0.330.29
13 Spied on me –0.070.470.490.15–0.31 0.64 0.450.33
15 Had to agree to her wish –0.330.710.590.28–0.40 0.67 0.630.43
18 Had to break the will –0.450.660.420.21–0.55 0.62 0.330.31
Ambition 0.77 0.77
3 Big plans for me –0.120.510.540.20–0.1 7 0.55 0.640.21
9 Overtaxed me by her ambition 0.090.37 0.630.330.11 0.27 0.510.14
14 Had to get somewhere 0.160.370.610.210.02 0.27 0.570.07
17 Should not fail –0.180.650.500.32–0.32 0.57 0.590.17
21 Should not disappoint her–0.09 0.42 0.410.34
Role reversal 0.69 0.84
2 Responsible for her–0.26 0.33 0.280.58
6 Care for her–0.27 0.36 0.130.73
8 Felt guilty 0.000. 140.230.57–0.13 0.20 0.140.69
11 Cheer her up –0.110.400.350.44–0.38 0.44 0.230.62
23 Had to take her side–0.24 0.51 0.210.57
Poland Germany
Love 0.950.94
4 Was affectionate to me 0.84–0.120.340.300.87 –0.26 0.150 .27
5 Was always there 0.86–0.060.370.270.76 –0.09 0.240.13
18 Showed understanding 0.84–0.110.320.270.86 –0.33 0.150.19
20 Concealment 0.88–0.020.430.270.93 –0.25 0.220.30
22 Closeness 0.86–0.070.380.300.81 –0.19 0.230.31
Control 0.87 0.89
7 Forced his will upon me –0.120.77 0.500.28 –0.18 0.69 0.380.28
10 Not talk back –0.170.730.470.24–0.27 0.78 0.410.18
13 Spied on me 0.170.570.570.26–0.07 0.67 0.460.29
15 Had to agree to his wish –0.010.700.660.36–0.21 0.78 0.680.22
18 Had to break the will –0.180.700.390.20–0.28 0.73 0.310.11
Ambition 0.89 0.90
3 Big plans for me 0.230.590.730.330.14 0.48 0.800.29
9 Overtaxed me by his ambition 0.41 0.46 0.790.410.28 0.42 0.700.41
14 Had to get somewhere 0.450.470.780.350.23 0.46 0.790.29
17 Should not fail 0.100.680.660.370.05 0.55 0.730.28
21 Should not disappoint him 0.490.440. 700.430.22 0.38 0.740.43
Role reversal 0.80 0.82
2 Responsible for him 0.17 0.390.65
6 Care for him 0.420.140.330.620.14 0.13 0.190.57
8 Felt guilty 0.11 0.240.77
11 Cheer him up 0.210.310.400.560.26 0.16 0.360.62
23 Had to take his s ide 0.140.330.370.480.07 0.43 0.330.47
Mean Differences on Scales and Items between
Polish and German Respondents
“Maternal love” showed a marginally higher mean value in
Poland than in Germany, but the difference was not significant
(t = 20.40, p < 0.017; see Table 2). The effect size was small (d
= 0.16). All items on this scale showed higher values in Poland
than in Germany, but the only significant difference was for
item 22, “I felt close to my mother” (t = 3.47, p < 0.001). In
both countries, “paternal love” received lower values than
“maternal love”, but the differences between Poland and Ger-
many were negligible. Another item had a significantly higher
mean in Poland than in Germany: item 20, “I felt secure with
my father” (t = 3.84, p < 0.001).
The scale “maternal control” had a significantly higher mean
in Poland than in Germany (t = 4.78, p < 0.001), with an effect
size of d = 0.25. On this scale, all items showed higher values
in Poland than in Germany, with significant differences for item
7, “My mother forced her will upon me” (t = 3.69, p < 0.001)
and item 12, “My mother spied on me” (t = 11.43, p < 0.001).
The means of the scale “paternal control” did not differ signifi-
cantly between the countries; in Germany the mean was similar
to the one for maternal control, whereas in Poland it was lower.
In the scale “paternal control”, the corresponding two items had
significantly higher means in Poland than in Germany: item 7,
“My father forced his will upon me” (t = 3.77, p < 0.001) and
item 12, “My father spied on me” (t = 6.77, p < 0.001).
“Maternal ambition” was also significantly higher in Poland
than in Germany (t = 5.81, p < 0.001); the effect size was d =
0.22. Two items on this scale showed significantly higher val-
ues in Poland than in Germany: item 3, “My mother had big
plans for me” (t = 10.00, p < .001) and item 13, “My mother
wanted me to be successful at all costs” (t = 5.14, p < 0.001).
One item on this scale had a higher mean in Germany than in
Poland: item 1, “My mother had high expectations of me” (t =
–4.00, p < 0.001). The scale “paternal ambition” showed no
significant difference between the countries. With respect to
fathers, one item showed a significantly higher mean in Poland
than in Germany: item 3, “My father had big plans for me” (t =
2.57, p < 0.010).
The scale “maternal role reversal” showed no significant dif-
ference between the countries. However, one item was signifi-
cantly higher in Poland than in Germany: item 11, “I was the
one who comforted my mother” (t = 5.66, p < 0.001). The scale
“paternal role reversal” had a significantly higher mean in Po-
land than in Germany (t = 6.65, p < 0.001, d = 0.24). This result
was mainly an effect of item 2, “I often felt responsible for my
father” (t = 5.46, p < 0.001); item 6, “When my father had pro-
blems, I had to take care of him” (t = 5.80, p < 0.001); and item
11, “I was the one who comforted my father” (t = 9.20, p < 0.001).
The scale on socioeconomic status showed a higher mean
value in Germany than in Poland (t = 2.71, p < 0.01, d = 0.17).
This outcome was due to item 1, “I come from a family with a
high social status” (t = 4.08, p < 0.001) and item 4, “I come
from a wealthy family” (t = 4.07, p < 0.001). Both items dis-
played higher values in Germany than in Poland.
Multiple Regression Analys es Expl ori ng
Socio-Demographic Influences on the Scores of the
Table 4 displays the ß regression coefficients of multivariate
analyses of the scales of the CQ. Seven effects were tested, and
the amount of explained variance of the eight scales varied
between 1.25% for paternal love and 13.20% for maternal role
reversal. The amount of explained variance in the scale values
was generally higher for mothers than for fathers. For both
parents, the scale love had less explained variance than the
other three scales. A large amount of variance was explained by
age effects, that were analysed separately due to it’s nonlinear
nature and displayed in Figure 1. Gender effects were only
seen in the maternal scales, not in the paternal ones. Boys re-
ported to have received more love, less control, but also more
role-reversal. Regarding ambition, no significant effect for
gender was observed. Parental job status was significantly posi-
tive associated with maternal as well as paternal ambition, and
negatively for role reversal—also in both parents. Additionally
more parental love was reported in those having parents with
higher jobstatus. Religion was associated with more control,
more ambition and more role-reversal in both, mothers and
fathers. Socioeconomic status was positively associated with
ambition in both parents, but also with control in fathers and
role-reversal in mothers. The country effects as displayed in the
non conditioned analyses in Table 2, were less pronounced in
the multivariate analyses. Only one effect remained highly
significant: there was less paternal role-reversal in Germany
than in Poland.
Age Effects in Polish and German Respondents
Since there was a partly strong quadratic effect for age in
some scales, Figure 1 displays age effects in Poland and Ger-
many graphically. The regressions include linear, quadratic, and
interaction effects. For “maternal love”, a quadratic term was
significant (t = 3.62, p < 0.001), i.e. the lowest values were
reported by persons born in the 1950s to ‘60s (Figure 1). This
result holds true in Poland as well as Germany, although the
depression in this curve is deeper in Germany. The interaction
was significant, with t = 3.80, p < 0.001. “Paternal love”
showed a similar curve (t = 2.63, p < 0.009 for the quadratic
term), however there were no differences between Poland and
Germany. “Maternal control” remained almost constant over
time in Poland, whereas in Germany a linear decline can be
observed. The interaction effect reached significance (t = 4.53,
p < 0.001). “Paternal control” remained relatively constant over
time in Poland, but showed the highest values in the 1960s to
‘70s in Germany (t = 2.84, p < 0.005). The curves for “maternal
ambition” and “paternal ambition” showed declines with age in
both countries; the quadratic terms barely missed significance
(tmothers = 2.17, p < 0.034; tfathers = 2.54, p < 0.011). There were
no differences between the countries. “Maternal role reversal”
peaked in Germany in the 1960s and ‘70s, and there was a
slight decline in Poland (t = –3.05, p < 0.002). “Paternal role
reversal” showed a slight decline in both countries.
In general, the Childhood Questionnaire shows similar item
characteristics in Poland and Germany. Convergent item-test
score correlations were good for all items in both countries, and
discriminant correlations were considerably lower for almost all
items. Some differences between the countries in scale means
exist, but multivariate analyses suggest that they are at least
0 1 23
1920 1940 196019802000
Mater nal Lov e
0 1 23
19201940 196019802000
Paterna l Lov e
0 1 2 3
1920 1940 196019802000
Mater nal Contr ol
0 1 2 3
19201940 196019802000
Paternal Control
0 1 2 3
19201940 196019802000
Maternal Ambi tion
0 1 2 3
19201940 19601980 2000
Paternal Ambition
0 12 3
19201940 196019802000
Ye ar o f Birt h
Maternal R ole Rever sal
0 12 3
19201940 19601980 2000
Year of Birth
Paternal Role Reversal
Figure 1.
Estimated values for parent-child relationships in Poland and Germany
by year of birth.
partly effects of different socio-demographics. Therefore, the
questionnaire seems to be appropriate for use in both countries.
The pattern of similarities and differences among scale
means was plausible with respect to the direction and magni-
tude of the means. Differences due purely to wording of the
items would have resulted in the same effects for mothers and
fathers. This was not the case here. Specific results observed
here probably reflect some differences between the countries.
As displayed in Table 3, the pattern shows only small differ-
ences, which can be summarized as stronger mothers and
weaker fathers in Poland compared to Germany. Several years
ago, there was a debate in Poland about domestic matriarchy. A
somewhat feminist thesis was developed by sociologists, i.e.
that the family was ruled by the mother rather than the father.
However, the father as the head of the family was the position
formally maintained (Walczewska, 1999).
The rationale for this thesis was that fathers felt like failures
after all the years of poverty under communism, preceded by
the lost war. The stereotype of mothers became one of ensuring
the family’s survival even in the worst of times and being able
to manage everything for the family. This thesis could explain
the higher values for ambition and control among Polish moth-
ers. If the mother had the task of managing the family in Poland,
stronger control than in Germany was needed. High values for
ambition may reflect the wish for the child to develop well and
attain a better (economic) status than the family had. This in-
terpretation is supported by the fact, that the bivariate strong
Table 3.
Means of the sub-scales.
Poland Germany
sd t Sig.
(1) Love
Mother 2.080.77 1.950.90–2.400.017
Father 1.620.92 1.590.96–0.500.616
(2) Control
Mother 1.060.71 0.840.71–4.78<0.001
Father 0.960.75 0.850.82–2.060.040
(3) Ambition
Mother 1.390.62 1.160.625.81<0.001
Father 1.210.74 1.120.801.850.065
(4) Role reversal
Mother 1.000.60 0.920.721.840.067
Father 0.700.59 0.460.546.65<0.001
Socioecon omic status 1.310.66 1.430.732.710.007
association (Table 3) between maternal ambition and country
became insignificant in the multivariate analysis (Table 4).
However, Figure 1 shows that we cannot regard the values of
the CQ as being stable; rather, there were considerable changes
over time. The most striking results are the nonlinearities. Not
much parental love was reported in the 1960s, but in Germany
high paternal control and maternal role reversal were demon-
strated. It must be considered that the two samples, with a mean
age of about 40 years (sd = 13), were collected in the year 2008
and describe the first 14 years of the subjects’ lives. Hence, our
study captures mainly the post-World War II era, called
“Wirtschaftswunder” (The Economic Miracle), in Germany. In
Poland, this was the period of the communist regime. The
nonlinearities indicate worse parent-child relationships for sub-
jects born in the years after the war. This effect, which is
stronger in Germany than in Poland, seems plausible. Germany
was the aggressor in the World War II, whereas Poland was
innocently involved. In both countries, people were very poor
at the time but in Germany there was an additional feeling of
guilt amongst the population, which seems to have affected
intrafamilial relationships. This interpretation is limited in that
the data were retrospective and cross-sectional. The changes
could be explained alternatively as an age or memory effect of
the subjects, i.e. that childhood memories may change over
time (Hardt & Rutter, 2004). However, this alternative explana-
tion would be much more plausible for linear effects than for
the curves observed here. If one accepts the interpretation con-
cerning the war, one conclusion can be drawn: The cliché es-
tablished by the first Federal Republic of Germany (BRD)
Chancellor (Adenauer) that even though times were difficult,
Germans remained emotionally strong, is not true. The data
presented here indicate instead that post-war situation had a bad
influence on the emotional relationships deep within families;
in fact, it was not until the 1970s that these influences started to
Table 4.
ß-values of the linear regression analyses.
Mother Father
Love Control Ambition Role-Rev. Love Control Ambition Role-Rev.
Age –0.557 *** 0.029 –0.295 **0.151–0.383*0.182 –0.243 –0.086
Age² 0.006 *** 0.001 0.005 ***–0.0010.005**–0.002 0.004 ** 0.002
Gender 0.191 *** –0.145 ** 0.002 0.121**0.021–0.051 0.089 –0.014
Jobstatus 0.024 0.012 0.053 ***–0.060***0.061**0.017 0.063 *** –0.033**
Religion –0.078 0.271 *** 0.238 ***0.339***0.0240.396*** 0.319 *** 0.138**
Socioec. 0.018 0.091 0.176 **0.265***–0.165*0.157* 0.168 ** 0.081
Country –0.106 –0.107 * –0.033 0.0200.0420.031 0.082 –0.182***
Const 3.15 *** 0.462 * 1.22 ***0.2532.21***0.016 0.736 ** 0.651**
Adj. R² 4.69% 9.41% 9.09% 13.20% 1.25% 5.53% 7.67% 7.62%
Note: unstandardisized ß’s; age was entered in decades; * indicates p < 0.05, ** p < 0.01, *** p < 0.001; all regressions were significant at p < 0.001, except paternal love,
where p < 0.007.
Other time trends, which are visible in Figure 1, show de-
clines in ambition and role reversal for mothers and fathers in
both Poland and Germany. Both trends are welcome from the
point of view of the children; in the CQ, ambition is not
phrased in a positive way but rather in the sense of overtaxing
the children. Role reversal—also called parentification—was
defined by the term’s originators, Boszormenyi-Nagy and
Spark (1981), as “the subjective distortion of a relationship as if
one’s partner or even children were his parent” (Boszor-
menyi-Nagy & Spark, 1981). The child was expected to assume
adult-like responsibilities, sometimes by playing the role of a
rescuer. This expectation has been shown to have negative
consequences (Hardt, 2004; Hardt et al., 2007).
This study has the following limitations: 1) the present data
were collected via Internet and are not representative of the
populations of both countries. Participants were younger and
more likely to be female and better educated than the average
person in either country. It is not fully known how Internet
users differ from the general population; this may have caused a
bias in the results. 2) As can be seen in the extreme t-values for
single items, when there has been a translation of a question-
naire there is always some uncertainty: Does an item have the
same meaning in the other language, and has the difficulty of
the item been retained? Here, sub-score scales appear with a
plausible pattern, but that does not guarantee that the scores
have an identical meaning. 3) Additionally, there is always
some concern that retrospective reports about childhood may be
in some way biased. Hunzinger, Egle, Vossel and Hardt (2007)
suggested that bias in the CQ may not be as great as some re-
searchers fear, nevertheless it cannot be completely ruled out. 4)
Eastern Germany also had an extremely poor time under a
communistic regime for 45 years after the war—since region
where subjects grew up was not asked for in the survey, it could
not be controlled for. 5) The comparison of convergent and
divergent item scale correlations is an old method. Newer sta-
tistical developments promise better performance, we still see
some drawbacks, so that we prefer to rely on the old method.
Given the limitations above, the Childhood Questionnaire
displays plausible results in both countries. The basic structure
of the instrument was developed in the German language and
could be replicated in Polish. Some discrepant results between
the two countries and findings related to different courses of
time could be explained as a consequence of history.
This work was supported in part by the Köhler-Stiftung, Es-
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