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Parent-Adolescent Conflict Essay

The common saying “adolescence begins in biology and ends in culture” denotes the dramatic changes during puberty while signs for adult transition are sociologically defined (Smetana, Campione-Barr, and Metzger, 2006). It was generally observed that conflict between youth and their parents arises during their adolescent period (Allison, 2000). Adolescents tend to judge the latter as irrational and harsh as parents fall into confusion for the hostility of the former (Allison, 2000). Misunderstanding of both sides often leads to stressful and prolonged disputes.

In fact, parent-adolescent conflict has been experienced by around five million American families (Allison, 2000). Conflicts at home have been associated with juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, behavioral problems, poor academic performance and attrition rates, and teen pregnancy (Allison, 2000). Conversely, experts supported the notion that conflict development on this stage is a part of familial transformation and moderate parent-adolescent conflict promotes smooth adjustment for latter life (Smetana, Campione-Barr, and Metzger, 2006).

As crucial transformations coincide with the adolescence, adolescent period is perceived to be the most intricate childrearing stage. On this stage, both European and American youth spend time more with their peers than with their families (Smetana, Campione-Barr, and Metzger, 2006). It was revealed by longitudinal studies that negative emotions prevail from childhood to adolescent transition and declines in late adolescent period (Smetana, Campione-Barr, and Metzger, 2006). On the other hand, parents who are in their midlife during the adolescent period of their children also undergo changes on perspectives (Allison, 2000).

Most of the time, the fading of their physical beauty and vigor may cause pessimism, anxiety, and even depression (Allison, 2000). Literature Review Parent-adolescent conflict, mostly ascribed with the disobedience of youth against their parents, is mostly associated with the Western cultures (Smetana, 1988). Thus, only few studies have been conducted in non-Western nations. Researches in parent-adolescent conflict have assessed the possible root of the problem by looking at the occurrence and sternness of the disputes, backbiting, and verbal wrangler between the youth and their parents (Smetana, 1988).

In connection to this, studies on the Western cultures showed that parent-adolescent arguments frequently occurred on peer group selection, leisure activities, household chore duties, and preferences on clothing and music but seldom on values, attitudes, and beliefs (Smetana, 1988). Also, the kind of relationship or attachment the parents built with their children, affects the occurrence of conflict in the adolescent period of the latter (Smetana, 1988). This relationship context involves disciplinary measures, proper behaviors, house rule compliance, and the extent of autonomy allowed by the parents to their children (Smetana, 1988).

However, only limited studies have showed that behavioral socialization and autonomy caused conflict between parents and adolescents (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). Additionally, it has been reported that high degree of support and autonomy entrusted to youth by their parents lessens the possibility of disputes while strict and authoritative parenting triggers parent-adolescent conflict. Nevertheless, inadequate data on the cultural variation of the previously mentioned factors have been noted (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005).

Parent-adolescent conflict is less observed in cultures with high regards to parental authority, social and economic interdependence, and family bonds than personal autonomy (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). Thus, the variation of parent-adolescent relationships in every culture may also influence the possible occurrence of any dispute. For instance, in Western cultures parents used to emphasize individualism rather than collectivism, hence, less conflict were observed when the youth seek autonomy during adolescent period (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005).

Conversely, ethnic cultures of the United States and most non-Western countries indoctrinate parental authority, high respect for the family, and less importance on autonomy which in turn prevent parent-adolescent disputes (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). But these traditional cultural expectations are slowly fading due to Western culture influences and globalization (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). We may infer then that for as long as the society sticks with the traditional cultures, there will be less chance for parent-adolescent conflict development.

Meanwhile, gender and parent-adolescent conflict should also be given importance. For instance, in Chinese families in Hong Kong showed father-adolescent disputes were most often than mother-adolescent conflict (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). On the contrary, mother-adolescent conflict was observed more in mainland China than cases of father-adolescent related disputes (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). Also, female adolescents accused their mother of excessive control than male adolescents.

In relation to this, female adolescents used psychological basis of conflict occurrence while male adolescents dwelled on interpersonal reasons (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). In their further studies Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon (2005) reported that for families in the United States, parental support tended to prevent parent-adolescent conflict development while parental monitoring hindered parents-female adolescent disputes but not parent-male adolescent disagreements.

In contrast, adolescent autonomy reduced the development of parent-adolescent dispute with boys but not with girls (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). Also, punishment induced parent-adolescent disputes while conformity with parental rules hindered parent-male adolescent disputes but not parent-female adolescent conflicts (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). For Chinese families, Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon (2005) found that parental monitoring has no significant effect while parental support has minimal effect both on the development of conflict between parents and adolescents.

Similar to the United States families, autonomy and parental rule conformity hindered parent-male adolescent disputes but not parent-female adolescent conflicts (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). As additional similarity, punishment from parents induced parent-adolescent conflict. Nevertheless, it was noted that as Chinese male-adolescents became older, conflict with parents’ increased. On the contrary, an increased in the educational attainment of the father lessened the occurrence of parent-male adolescent disputes (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005).

Among Russian families, Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon (2005) found reversed observations as compared with Chinese and American Families. For example, parental support deterred parent-female adolescent conflicts but not parent-male adolescent disputes (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). In addition, parental monitoring has prevented parents’ conflict with the male adolescents but not with females. Moreover, autonomy was insignificant with any parent-adolescent dispute (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005).

Similar with American and Chinese families, punishments induced conflicts between parents and adolescents while adolescents’ conformity with parental rules only hindered parent-male adolescent disputes but not parent-female adolescent conflicts (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). Still, moderate parent-adolescent conflict has been viewed with constructive outcomes that can pave for a smooth adaptive process which may strengthen parent-adolescent relations (Peterson, Bush, Wilson and Hennon, 2005). Analysis and Conclusion

The early adolescent stage is characterized by disagreements among family members which may affect the future personality development and future relationship commitments (Smetana, Campione-Barr, and Metzger, 2006). Physical, biological or physiological changes in youth during puberty may impart changes in their behavior and personality as a whole (Allison, 2000). As such, the development of logical reasoning in their part could be the most plausible reason for their hesitant attitude against parental authority. Also, the development of their cognitive skills may cause them to be meticulous in every parental rule and command (Allison, 2000).

In line with this, further development of their cognitive skills which are typically honed by academic institutions would open their minds into their inborn rights and merits for their own perceived truth resulting to their oppositions, non-compliance, and clamor for autonomy (Allison, 2000). Meanwhile, parenting style also takes influence on the development of parent-adolescent conflict (Allison, 2000). A number of researches consistently showed that children grown by authoritative parents have high sense of maturity and competence as compared with those raised by indifferent and authoritarian parents (Allison, 2000).

The authoritative style, where parents are both demanding and responsive, has been ascribed for the development of the youth’s high academic performance, smooth emotional adjustments, and high sense of maturity (Allison, 2000). Furthermore, environmental factors take precedence on shaping adolescents’ personality. Peer group influences, opposite sex attraction, and societal expectations may aggravate the stress they felt at home (Allison, 2000).

Parent-adolescent conflict was described as having a U-shaped occurrence trajectory; conflict summit are observed in middle adolescent period as it declines towards the late adolescence (Smetana, Campione-Barr, and Metzger, 2006). Family problems like divorce and parent separation may trigger conflict development. In the same manner, financial instability was also associated with high parent-adolescent conflict, harsh parenting, and pessimism of the family members (Smetana, Campione-Barr, and Metzger, 2006). Parent-adolescent conflicts are often resolved by escape from the parental custody.

In contrast, parent-adolescent conflict was less seen in a mother-headed household of a broken family which was attributed to less hierarchical structure (Smetana, Campione-Barr, and Metzger, 2006). The aforementioned biological and socio-cultural factors have proven to be significant in parent-adolescent conflict development which coincides with the stage of puberty of the adolescents. Puberty as crucial transitional stage from childhood to early adulthood shapes the perspectives of the individual which in turn affect his or her personality, future relationship commitments, and the like.

Hence, information of parent-child relations should be made as integral part of education. Firstly, to gain understanding on the possible behavioral changes on the youth, parents should educate themselves on their children’s growth and development (Steinberg, 2001). Next in line, effective parenting should be known for to become a responsive parent. For instance, even though authoritative style of parents is best for childhood and adolescent years, “psychological autonomy” or the privilege given to adolescents by their parents in forming their own opinions for family matters should also be given importance (Steinberg, 2001).

Finally, aside from understanding changes on adolescents, parents should also be responsive on family changes implications (Steinberg, 2001). References Allison, B. N. (2000). Parent-Adolescent Conflict in Early Adolescence: Research and Implications for Middle School Programs. Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences Education, 18 (2), 1-6. Peterson, G. W. , Bush, K. R. , Wilson, S. M. , and Hennon, W. C. (2005). Family Relationship Predictors of Parent-Adolescent Conflict: Cross-Cultural Similarities and Differences.

MIFS 2005, Building Family Relations and Resiliency. The Mexican International Family Strengths Conference, 1-3 January 2005, Cuernavaca. Smetana, J. G. (1988). Adolescents’ and Parents’ Conceptions of Parental Authority. Child Development, 59(2), 321-335. Smetana, J. G. , Campione-Barr, N. , and Metzger, A. (2006). Adolescent Development in Interpersonal and Societal Contexts. Annual Review of Psychology, 57, 255-284. Steinberg, L. (2001). We know some things: Parent-adolescent relationships in retrospect and prospect. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 11(1), 1-19.


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