Primary prevention has emerged as increasingly important in the field of mental health (Buckner, Trickett, & Corse, 1985), especially when dealing with adolescents and children (Long, 1986). This trend has also emphasized the mission of family life education to work with adolescents and their families to help them cope with the adolescent years. The teenager's main task is to establish a positive self-concept (Erikson, 1963), and many studies have demonstrated the association between poor self-concept and a multitude of maladaptive response patterns, such as: delinquency (Atkins, 1973; Jurich & Andrews, 1984), dropping out of school (Berry, 1974), drug abuse (Jurich & Polson, 1984), premarital pregnancy (Zongker, 1977), and poor adjustment to parental divorce (Jurich & Jones, 1986). Therefore, if the family life educator can enhance the adolescent's self-esteem within a family context, a major goal of primary prevention of maladaptive response patterns can be accomplished.
"4-H Night at the Movies" is a program designed to enhance the self-esteem of 4-H teens. Using movie videos and small group discussion led by adult facilitators, the program enables teens to learn more about themselves and the issues they face each day.
Development of Adolescent Self-esteem
How adolescents feel about or value themselves is termed self-esteem. One of the most important ways they learn how they feel about themselves is through relationships with others (Glazer-Malbin, 1981).
Adolescence is a time when young people are very interested in who they appear to be to others as compared with their own self-concept (Selman, 1980). Rice (1978) found that how adolescents accept themselves is directly related to how they are accepted by those around them. Most important are "significant others."
According to Blyth, Hill, and Thiel (1982), significant others are persons in adolescents' social relations with whom they like to spend time, like very much or who like them, make important decisions in their lives, go to for advice, and would like to emulate.
Although adolescence is a period when peers play a very important role as significant others (Jurich, 1987), many significant others are adults. According to Galbo (1983), youth describe significant adults as worthy of respect and esteem, intelligent, and living an interesting life. These adults treat them equally, share experiences and problems, and are open-minded. Other important characteristics include trustworthiness, interest in youth, friendliness, good sense of humor, and taking time to listen.
However, this type of relationship may be very difficult for a parent to achieve (Jurich, 1987). Adolescents' attempts at independence are not only hard to handle for most parents but may feel like rejection. Similarly, parents' attempts at discipline or protection may be interpreted by adolescents as rejection of their emergent adult identity. This can result in a breakdown in communication, and peers are obviously candidates to fill this void (Jurich, 1987), especially in early adolescence when peers often support the young adolescent's rebellion against parents' restrictions. Parents and peers often prompt teenagers to see themselves quite differently, which parents often experience as a "tug of war." Then, as the adolescent grows older, the peer group is replaced by a smaller circle of friends and/or a boyfriend or girlfriend, who similarly give adolescents other sources of information upon which to base their self-esteem.
Hauck (1971) also investigated adolescent relationships with significant adults other than their parents. He found that older adolescents developed friendships in out-of-school work relationships. This included those with teachers, ministers, service, and recreation leaders. These friendships occur in informal settings and are based on face-to-face interaction. Frequent interaction is required to develop and sustain adolescent-adult friendships, and some of these friendships confirm parental messages about the adolescent's self-concept. …