The importance of security in young teenage boys and girls

classphoto courtesy of ctsnowBy Guest Author Samantha Krause

I have often seen other people who do not have close relationships with their peers as weird, or just not sociable. However, it seems having a close relationship with my parents has strengthened my own, personal ability to have stronger relationships with my friends than others. We often do not think about how a person’s relationships at home can affect other relationships and aspects of that person.

In a survey of 223 sixth graders (109 girls) Dwyer and colleagues assessed their attachment, ability to adapt socially, and friendship quality off three basic tests in which they took in pairs:

  • Security Scale: the amount of security the child feels based on their own relationships with their parents at home.
  • Attributions and Coping Questionnaire: giving something/someone (in this case, the child’s friends) a reason for acting the way they do, and then deciding how to deal with the given situation.
  • Friendship Quality Questionnaire: evaluating the relationships the child shares with his/her close friends.

The results indicate that children with higher levels of security at home with their mother and father likely felt higher levels of security within their relationships with friends. Having high levels of security in the home also improved the reported self-esteem and self-confidence in a child, enabling them to be stronger individuals later in life.  If they had a low level of security, they reported feeling sad and had a harder time building and sustaining lasting, strong relationships. Lower levels of security often lead to a greater chance that the child would develop negative coping strategies, such as revenge, emotional responses, and avoidance all together.

So, parents should try to create a positive chemistry in the house and raise their children in such a way that they feel a strong security in their relationships with their mother and father. Mother’s and the father’s should have individual relationships with their children. Since boys and girls react differently to each relationship, the importance of having a strong relationship and security with both parents individually is crucial. The stronger these relationships are the more likely the child will thrive in their other relationships as they get older. S/he will have a more balanced social life, as well as a healthy psychological well-being.

Dwyer, K., Fredstrom, B., Rubin, K., Booth-LaForce, C., Rose-Krasnor, L., Burgess, K. (2010). Attachment, social information processing, and friendship quality of early adolescent girls and boys. Journal of Social & Personal Relationships, 27, 91-116.

Forgiving your parents…

By Guest Author Juliris E. De La Rosa

When someone commits an act of betrayal, it goes without saying that the victim might start to reevaluate their relationship with the perpetrator. S/he might completely end the relationship or s/he might forgive the perpetrator.

This is not always easy when parent or parents commit an act of betrayal to their children. Children, including adult children, cannot easily abandon their relationship with their parents, and generally choose to go through the process of forgiveness.

When the adult child goes through the stages of forgiveness, their commitment (how close parent and adult child feel) trust (knowing that both parent and adult child can rely on each other) and relational satisfaction (how parent and adult child feel about the relationship) with their parents will change throughout the process.

In a study by  Braun, Rittenour, and Myers, 61 adult children ranging from the ages of 18 to 64 were asked to write about a moment when their parents betrayed them. They saw betrayal as emotional or physical abuse, non-supportive behaviors like not accepting the adult child’s significant other, favoritism in the family, etc.

They note the three stages of forgiveness:

I.         Impact – When the victim starts to wonder whether they deserved the betrayal in the first place. Along with that comes refusal to believe and accept the betrayal and a lack of emotions.

II.         Definition – When the victims ask the perpetrator why they committed the act of betrayal in the first place.

III.         Moving On- As the name suggest, this is where victims decide to let go of any negative emotions, feelings, and thought about the betrayal and move on with the relationship

Participants experiencing Impact try to avoid any type of communication with their parents. The first stage is where this is little to no commitment, trust and relational satisfaction resulting from the initial shock of betrayal. Participants in the second stage, Definition, wanted to know why their parents did such acts of betrayal. In the third stage of forgiveness, Moving On, participants wanted to move on with the relationship with their parents.

Participants felt different levels of commitment, trust and relational satisfaction during the three stages of forgiveness. As the next stage of forgiveness came, the levels of commitment trust and relational satisfaction increased.

There have always been studies about marital betrayals and friendship betrayals, but little exists on betrayals between parents and their adult children. Parent and adult child relationships differ from all the other types of relationships in the sense that you cannot choose who your parents are. When you are in a relationship with a friend or significant other, you have the option of ending the relationship if it is no longer in your best interest to stay in that relationship, whereas with your parents, this relationship has more permanence.

For that reason alone, we, as the adult children, should forgive them if they do indeed commit an act of betrayal. It is important for society to invest more time into parent and adult child betrayals so we can get a more in-depth look at what happens to a relationship that cannot be so easily broken forever.


Brann, M., Rittenour, C., & Myers, S. (2007). Adult Children’s Forgiveness of Parents’ Betrayals. Communication Research Reports24, 353-360.


One more piece of the puzzle connecting online and offline use and behaviors

As a person who does not have any children, I stand amazed at how many things parents have to worry about, and how impactful the behaviors that parents enact within the family can transfer to their children in a plethora of ways.

In a survey of 417 college students, Ledbdetter looked at the interrelationships between four main concepts:

  • conversation orientation–how open the climate of communication is, and how encouraged the family members feel to talk about a large range of topics
  • conformity orientation– how homogeneous the attitudes, values, and beliefs that the family maintains in its communication)
  • relationship maintenance behaviors-the actions the family members engage in to keep the relationship in existence, which he then parsed into online and offline behaviors
  • Friendship closeness

Using theories that describe how behavior modeling constitutes a primary factor in the socialization of how people communicate with others, his results provide further support for these notions. Strong conversation orientation predicted the use of both online and offline relational maintenance behaviors. Further, the use off offline relationship maintenance behaviors served as a mediating behavior between conversation orientation and friendship closeness (but interestingly online maintenance behaviors did not).

So, if interested in helping their children establish close friendships outside of the family, parents should strive to maintain a climate of open discussions with their children. Likewise, research has indicated that children in families with a high conformity orientation have trouble adjusting to major life changes such as college. Children developing and learning some intellectual flexibility is key, both in listening to information, but also in forming tactful messages to others.

Obviously, parents interested in never having their children leave their house should practice the conformity orientation.

On the technology front these findings provide support for research that myself and others have conducted that look at the impact of the medium, though my hunch is that over the next thirty or so years these effects will dissipate somewhat. Online relationships perform similarly to offline relationships if the online relationships have time to develop, and this could also explain why conformity relationships were found to be related to online maintenance behaviors but not offline behaviors; perhaps this lack flexibility is masked when one has a tighter control over the interaction. Online maintenance in concert with offline maintenance is strongly related to friendship closeness.

Ledbetter, A. M. (2009). Family communication patterns and relational maintenance behavior: Direct and mediated associations with friendship closeness. Human Communication Research, 35, 130-147.