Chapter 6

Changing Relationships Within the Family: Adolescents

Time Spent with Family: Relationships within the family change in a number of ways during adolescence. With age, adolescents spend less time with their families, becoming more involved in activities outside the home, though maintaining about the same amount of time spent talking with family members.

Warmth of Family Interactions: Adolescents’ emotions when with their families become less positive by junior high, becoming more positive again toward the end of high school. Also, conflict with parents increases as adolescents make bids for more autonomy.

Increased Conflict with Parents: Although adolescents agree that parents have the right to set rules governing the social and moral order in the family, disagreements arise as to which of their behaviors fall within these domains and which are matters of personal choice. The nature of adolescent-parent conflict differs little from one culture to the next, although European American adolescents are somewhat less compliant than those whose families have emigrated from interdependent cultures. Differences in temperament among adolescents are more important in determining the intensity of conflict than differences in parenting. Adolescents avoid many potential conflicts by not fully disclosing their plans to parents.

Emotional Climate of Families: Negative emotions are more easily transmitted within the family than are positive ones, and emotions are more likely to flow from parents to children than vice versa.
Key Terms: emotional transmission

Changing Relationships Within the Family: Parents and Parenting

Styles of Parenting: Two dimensions, or characteristic ways of responding to children, are present in all parents’ behavior: demandingness and responsiveness. These dimensions of parenting are independent of each other, and the combinations yield four styles of parenting, each of which fosters different behaviors.
Key Terms: responsiveness, demandingness, authoritative parenting, authoritarian, parenting, indulgent parenting, disengaged parenting

Cultural Contexts of Parenting: Styles of parenting must be considered within the context of ethnicity. Authoritative parenting has been shown to be an effective style of parenting for African American, Asian American, and Hispanic adolescents, as well as for European American adolescents.

Knowing What Your Kids Are Doing: Parents can monitor adolescents’ activities even when not physically present, by keeping tabs on who they are with and whether or not another adult is present. Adolescents are less likely to get into trouble when parents are involved in their lives, but also when parents exercise some control over their behavior.
Key Terms: parental monitoring

Whose Identity Crisis? Parents and Middle Age: Most parents face middle age just when adolescents reach puberty. This particular combination of developmental changes and identity crises can heighten the tensions within families with adolescents.
Key Terms: climacteric

Families in Context

Ethnic Minority Membership: Ethnicity contributes to the impact of the family on development in varied ways. Adolescent-parent relationships assume somewhat different forms in families with differing cultural backgrounds.

Siblings: Over three-quarters of adolescents have at least one sibling. Most develop close bonds of affection despite the inevitable conflicts. Older siblings serve as models for younger ones; they are also likely to serve as caretakers.

Dual-Earner Families: In most families with children under 18, both parents are employed. The effects of maternal employment on adolescents are mediated by several factors, one of the most important being the mother’s satisfaction with her work. Maternal employment may liberalize gender roles in the family and increase a parent’s sense of well-being.

Families in Transition

Divorce: Increasing numbers of adolescents experience divorce. The impact of divorce depends on conditions in the adolescent’s life, such as age, gender, amount of marital conflict, support from family and friends, and economic stability. Marital conflict, rather than divorce itself, contributes heavily to the stress adolescents experience, but exposure to conflict need not always be negative.

Single-Parent Families: About half of the adolescents who live in single-parent families do so because of divorce, and about 80% of them live with their mothers. One of the biggest differences between these adolescents and those from intact homes is their economic status, with close to a third of families headed by a single female parent living at or below the poverty level.

Remarriage and Blended Families: Most parents who divorce will remarry. Role clarity facilitates interaction in blended families. Factors contributing to successful blended family relationships include authoritative parenting by the biological parent, supported by the stepparent; the age of the children (remarriages are more successful if the children are under 10 or over 15); and family rituals.
Key Terms: role clarity