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decorative star graphic  Adolescence:
Psychosocial Development
- Family & Friends -

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Ψ  Adolescence is often a time when the values and behaviors of young people are said to become increasingly distant and detached from those of their parents and other adults.


Ψ  Generation Gap: The distance between generations in values, behaviors, and knowledge. The gap is typically small by objective measures.

Ψ  Generational Stake: The need of each generation to view family interactions from its own perspective, because each has a different investment in the family scenario.

Ψ  Adolescents have a stake in believing that their parents are limited, old-fashioned, and out of touch. This divergence happens with good reason, adolescents do need to break free from their parents to find their own way.

Parent- Adolescent Conflict

Ψ  Usually occurs when a young persons drive for independence clashes with the parents’ traditions of control. Typically emerges in early adolescence particularly with daughters and mothers.

Ψ  Bickering: repeated petty, peevish arguing, more like nagging than fighting.

Other Family Qualities

Ψ  Conflict is only one aspect of parent-teen relationships, Other aspects include

  • Control: Parental Monitoring: - Parental awareness of what one’s children are doing, where and with whom. - Too much parental interference & control can be a strong predictor of adolescent depression. - Do parents encourage or limit autonomy?
  • Support - do they rely on each other?
  • Communication - can they talk openly with each other?
  • Connectiveness - How close are they?


Ψ  Relations with peers are vital to the transition from childhood to adulthood. Adolescents help each other "grow up" in many ways.

Ψ  Brown (1990) identified four special, constructive functions performed by peer relationships. They follow.
  • Pubertal self-help - re. physical changes
  • Social support - protection against turmoil
  • Identity formation - mirror
  • Values clarification - sounding board

Ψ  Contrary to Brown's four constructive functions is the notion of Peer Pressure. Peer Pressure is the social pressure to conform with one’s friends or contemporaries in behavior, dress, and attitude; usually considered negative, as when adolescent peers encourage each other to defy adult standards.

    Ψ  The idea of peer pressure is exaggerated in three ways:
  • Peer-group pressure is not strong forever, but only for a few years ( to 14).
  • Peer-group conformity is not always destructive it can be constructive.
  • Peer standards are not necessary negative they can be positive.

Ψ  Conflict between peers & family is likely to arise in ethnic groups that revere closeness to family, respect for others, and self-sacrifice. These ideals clash with peer group emphasis on adolescent freedom & self-determination. It is not surprising that minority individuals often have trouble establishing their identities.

Ψ  Boys & Girls will act on their attraction to each other and come together. These romantic relationships augment rather than replace same-sex friendships.

Human Growth & Development
Robert C. Gates