Adolescent Self-Esteem and Perceived Relationships with Parents and Peers
Dale A. Blyth Cornell University
Carol Traeger Ohio State University
Adolescence is widely recognized as a period of change in the form and focus of interpersonal relationships. The nature of the social networks that adolescents experience is generally thought to be broader and qualitatively different from that of most younger children. Much theoretical (e.g., Blos, 1979; Freud, 1905/ 1962) and recent empirical work (Grotevant & Cooper, 1985; Hill, 1980; Montemayor, 1983) has illustrated the changing nature of adolescents' relationships with their parents as they begin to disengage from the family and build more extensive peer networks. These changes involve not only who is seen but also how often. Furthermore, the quality of the relationships undergoes changes. As Bigelow and LaGaipa ( 1975) have noted, early adolescence marks the beginning of an increased awareness of the importance of emotional support and intimacy in friendships.
Although the exact nature and developmental course of the various changes are still not fully understood, the changes in parent-teen relationships need not be viewed as simply declining as peer relationships become stronger (e.g., Steinberg, 1985). Instead, work is now focusing on the transformations of parent -- adolescent relationships along both emotional and behavioral dimensions.
Furthermore, the nature and function of peer relationships is receiving greater attention from a variety of perspectives. The reemergence of Sullivan's theory on the importance of close same-sex friendships ("chums") and the gradual development of opposite-sex relationships for healthy development