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Kerr’s article notes that a sense of security with an attachment figure seems to instill the positive self-image in which a person feels good about him or herself in a variety of areas that either promote or discourage positive relationship between adolescents and their respective parents. The evidence of the changes in peer and parent-child relationships during early adolescence suggests that early adolescence is a critical period of transformation in children’s relationships.

Early adolescents may orient toward peers while distancing themselves from their parents because their peer relationships fit some of their developmental needs better than their relationships with their parents. The waxing of peer orientation and the waning of closeness with parents, however, does not appear to be permanent. In addition, parent-child relationships, instead of being discarded during early adolescence, appear to be renegotiated into more interdependent relationships during middle and late adolescence. This decreased closeness during early adolescence seems to be temporary.

Most early adolescents do not wish to withdraw completely from their relationships with their parents. Instead, they want greater control over their own lives and their personal decision making. The influence of parents on their children’s peer relations is not limited to childhood but continues throughout the adolescent years. Little is, however, known about which mechanisms link adolescent functioning in family and peer systems. This study focuses on social skills as a mediator between characteristics of the parent-child relationship and peer relations.

Findings showed that adolescents’ social skills mediated the effects of some parental practices, such as responsiveness, autonomy, cohesion, as well as parental attachment on the degree of peer activity, the attachment to peers and perceived social support from peers to some extent. Nonetheless, direct parental influence on peer relations remained apparent after controlling for the effects of social skills. The overall picture is that social skills of adolescents as well as parenting factors, parental attachment and family climate are associated with the quality and intensity of peer relations.

The associations between the developing individual and his or her complex and changing ecology, socially and physically explains the changing dynamics of the person and his or her context that may foster continuity or discontinuity in the individual’s overall development. Larson’s article describes new relationships that develop because adolescents have greater opportunities for independence from parents and are more able to see themselves as part of a larger community of people. Some of these people, particularly peers, involved in the new relationships may become new sources of trust.

Adolescents need these new support relationships since information or support from a parent may no longer be as relevant. They also need these relationships to help establish their identity; by comparing opinions and values with others, teenagers can learn what makes them unique Adolescents spend increasing time in activities with peers without the supervision of adults such as parents and teachers. It is important for them to come in contact with new friends or to strengthen existing bonds.

In this way, they get reflections on their own opinions, ideas and emotions. Despite the increasing relevance of peer relationships, parents do not per se become less relevant in shaping adolescents’ cognitions and behaviors. In contrast, recent studies have documented that the impact of parents is not limited to children but that they maintain significant influence on the social functioning of their offspring in adolescence. In other words, the ways in which young people move around in friendships are affected by aspects within the parent-child relationship.

There is the idea that variables from various levels of adolescent growth are dynamically interactive–they are reciprocally influential over the course of the adolescents’ development. Kerr’s article continues with the thought that the diverse interactions a child has with his or her parents and how the child influences the parents are possible. The child is thereby shaping a source of his or her own development. In this sense, children are producers of their own development and the presence of such child effects constitutes the basis of bidirectional relations between parents and children.

Of course, this bidirectional relation continues when the child is an adolescent and an adult. And corresponding relations exist between the person and siblings, friends, teachers, and indeed all other significant people in his or her life. There is diversity in these child-social context relations. As a consequence of their characteristics of individuality, children elicit differential reactions in their parents, and these reactions provide the basis of feedback to the child, that is, there is return stimulation which influences his or her further individual development.

The writers point out that adolescents are producers of their own development and that people’s relations to their contexts involve reciprocal exchanges. The parent shapes the child, but part of what determines the way in which the parent does this is the child himself or herself. The key function of parents is to provide the child with a safe, secure and supportive environment, one that allows the offspring to have a happy and healthy youth; this sort of experience allows the youth to develop the knowledge, values, attitudes, and behaviors necessary to become an adult making a productive contribution to self, family, community, and society.

Of course, however, adults differ in the ways in which they enact their role as parent. They show different styles of raising their children-authoritative, authoritarian or permissive? Differences in child rearing styles are associated with important variation in adolescent development. The first style of rearing is marked by parental warmth, the use of rules and reasoning to promote obedience and keep discipline. Authoritarian parents are not warm, stress rigid adherence to the rules they set and emphasize the power of their roles as parents.

Permissive parents do not show consistency in their use of rules, they may have a “laissez-faire” attitude towards their child’s behaviors. Adolescents with authoritative parents had more social competence and fewer psychological and behavioral problems than youth with authoritarian, indulgent, or neglectful parents In fact, youth with neglectful parents were the least socially competent and had the most psychological and behavioral problems of any group of adolescents in the study. In turn, youth with authoritarian parents were obedient and conformed well to authority, but had poorer self concepts than other adolescents.

While youth with indulgent parents had high self confidence, they more often abused substances, misbehaved in school, and were less engaged in school. Also, adolescents whose parents were accepting, firm, and democratic achieve higher school grades, were more self reliant, less anxious and depressed, and less likely to engage in delinquent behavior than are youth with parents using other rearing styles. Moreover, adolescents with authoritative parents were more likely to have well-rounded peer groups as they were a reflection of the openness adolescents felt with their parents that transferred into choices of peers.

The article also looked at a range of behaviors and associated emotions exchanged between parents and their adolescent children. Some of these exchanges involve positive and healthy behaviors and others involve the opposite; some of the outcomes for adolescent development of these exchanges reflect good adjustment and individual and social success, whereas other outcomes reflect poor adjustment and problems of development. As is true for all facets of human development, there is then diversity in the nature and implications of parent-child relations in adolescence.

In addition to measuring the exertion of parental behavioral control, the monitoring used was to generally gauge the communication patterns between parents and adolescents. When adolescents volunteer information to (rather than being asked by) their parents about their school and social activities, there is greater knowledge on the part of the parents about their children. The positive relationship found between high levels of parental knowledge of adolescents’ school and social activities and identity achievement suggests that supportive communication encourages more positive identity development in adolescents.

References: Larson, R. , Richards, M. , Moneta, G. , Holmbeck, G. , ; Duckett, E. (1996) Changes in adolescents’ daily interactions with their families from ages 10 to 18: Disengagement and transformation. Development Psychology, 32(4), 744-754 Kerr, M. , Stattin, H. , Biesecker, G. ; Ferer-Wreder, L. (2003) Relationships with parents and peers in adolescence. In R. Lerner, A. Easterbrooks, J. Mistry (Eds. ), Handbook of Psychology, Vol. 6, Developmental Psychology (pp. 395-413).

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