Examining Parenting Practices in Different Peer Contexts: Implications for Adolescent Trajectories
B. Bradford Brown Bih-Hui Huang University of Wisconsin-Madison
As individuals make the transition from childhood into adolescence, many features of their social world are transformed. Certainly one of the most dramatic transformations occurs in the area of peer relations, with the emergence of peer "crowds" -- groups by which a teenager's reputation and status among peers are demarcated ( Brown, 1990). The function of these crowds, especially the direction and degree of influence on adolescent attitudes and behavior relative to the influence of parents, has been hotly debated. Some portray adolescent peer groups as the locus of antisocial or antiadult peer pressures that pull teenagers away from the prosocial influence of parents and other adults ( Bronfenbrenner, 1970; Coleman, 1961). Others maintain that parents and peer groups develop separate spheres of influence, such that teenagers will follow the advice of parents on certain issues and the advice of peers on other matters ( Brittain, 1963; Larson, 1972). In this chapter, we provide a different perspective on the linkage between the family and the peer group in adolescence. Rather than regarding them as independent or antagonistic influences on adolescents, we view them as interdependent, such that parenting practices can be expected to have a different impact on teenagers in different peer-crowd contexts.
Although some theories propose that parents' power of influence is sharply reduced at adolescence ( Freud, 1958), a host of empirical evidence refutes this notion. Particularly interesting is the body of research demonstrating that