Academic journal article Family Relations

Parental Support, Psychological Control, and Early Adolescents' Relationships with Friends and Dating Partners

Academic journal article Family Relations

Parental Support, Psychological Control, and Early Adolescents' Relationships with Friends and Dating Partners

Article excerpt

Adolescents' relationships with parents and close peers play an important role in shaping the general course of development during adoles- cence (Collins, 2003; Laursen & Collins, 2009; Pittman, Keiley, Kerpelman, & Vaughn, 2011; Repinski & Zook, 2005). For early adolescents (ages 10-14) the literature addressing close peer relationships is still in its infancy. Past research has focused primarily on high school and college samples (Auslander, Short, Succop, & Rosenthal, 2009; Hand & Furman, 2009; Levesque, 1993; Pagano & Hirsch, 2007); little is known about early adolescents' close relation- ships, particularly romantic relationships and the possible functions these relationships serve (Collins, 2003). Yet recent research shows that many early adolescents are reporting experience with romantic relationships (Simon, Miller, Gorman-Smith, Orpinas, & Sullivan, 2010). In this study we add to the literature by addressing associations among parent-child relationship quality, early adolescents' relationship experi- ences with close peers (i.e., friends and dating partners), and their relationship satisfaction with these peers.

Conceptual Framework

Interdependence and social exchange theories are commonly used frameworks for studying close relationships. The philosophical underpin- nings of these theories rest on the fundamental assumption that relationships take place within a historical and personal context. Interdepen- dence theory (Thibaut & Kelley, 1959) suggests that close others (e.g., parents, friends, roman- tic partners) influence how individuals make decisions and evaluate their relationships in the moment. The core idea of social exchange theory is that individuals are driven by efforts to maximize rewards (e.g., receiving support from a partner, being able to communicate easily with a partner) and minimize costs (e.g., being the recipient of controlling behaviors from a part- ner, having an unsupportive relationship with a partner) (Homans, 1958). Collectively, these theories posit that interaction behaviors (what one gives and gets within the relationship) affect relationship satisfaction and are strongly influ- enced by individual history and expectations about what a relationship should be like.

Researchers have only recently begun using interdependence and social exchange models in their research on adolescents' close relationships (Hand & Furman, 2009); in general, empirical studies of relationship satisfaction among ado- lescents are scant. Collins (2003) suggested that characterizing relationships in any life period requires considering the distinctive emotional responses, expectancies, and schemata relevant during that time in development. The schemata adolescents bring to their peer relationships are in large part influenced by the quality of rela- tionships they have with their parents. Guided by interdependence and social exchange theories, this investigation explored the role of adoles- cents' perceptions of the quality of their relation- ships with parents; the communication, emotion support, and possessiveness occurring within their close peer relationships (i.e., close friends or dating partners); and adolescents' reports of satisfaction with these peer relationships.

Relationship Satisfaction

According to social exchange theory, relation- ship satisfaction addresses the extent to which individuals perceive a relationship (whether it is with a romantic partner, friend, or family mem- ber) to be higher on rewards and lower on costs. Evaluating relationship satisfaction requires that one compare perceived outcomes to a cer- tain standard of what one thinks one deserves (Thibaut & Kelley, 1959), where greater sat- isfaction results from meeting or exceeding one's expectations (Bradbury & Karney, 2010). Relationship satisfaction is important to assess because relationship experiences that conform to idealized scripts heighten positive emotions (Collins, 2003), and satisfying relationships provide a secure base for identity exploration, a central developmental task during adolescence (Pittman et al. …

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