Adolescence

Grayson Holmbeck and his colleagues, also writing in Handbook of Parenting, noted that the amount of warmth and responsiveness in the relationship between parent and child continues to be important in predicting positive outcomes during the adolescent years and even into the adult years. Warm and responsive relationships between adolescents and parents are associated with a variety of positive outcomes, including self-esteem, identity formation, socially accepted behavior, better parent-adolescent communication, less depression and anxiety, and fewer behavior problems. The challenge during adolescence is that warm, responsive, and involved relationships must be maintained at a time when the asymmetries in power that characterized earlier parent-child relationships are shifting to more equality.

Studies have concluded that the level of positive nurturing in the relationship between parents and their children is important to predicting positive outcomes throughout a child' developmental years. (Paul Barton/The Stock Market)

The shift to more equality is driven by the adolescent's more sophisticated social cognitive skills and broader contacts with the environment outside the family. The transition to adolescence involves biological, cognitive, social cognitive, emotional, self-definitional, peer relationship, and school context changes for the adolescent. Cognitive changes may result in more confrontations between parents and adolescents, as adolescents increasingly begin to question and debate parental rules and expectations. Andrew Collins and Brett Laursen have noted that although parent-child conflict typically increases during adolescence, the conflict can serve as an important signal to parents that parenting behaviors need to be modified in response to the changing developmental needs of their children. Thus, parent-adolescent conflict can serve an adaptive function, as conflict can be an impetus to change. Conflicts that occur in the context of generally warm, supportive family relationships may be more likely to help an adolescent's development progress.

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