The parent–adolescent relationship and the emotional well–being of adolescents
It is well known that adolescence is a difficult stage of development, involving various aspects of development, namely biological, cognitive, social and emotional development. More recent research indicates that the turbulence and stress in adolescence are exaggerated to a great extent (Berk, 2006); yet the youth of today seem increasingly unhappy. Eating disorders, depression and suicide are some of the problems that occur more frequently in adolescence than before adolescence (Barlow & Durand, 2005). Adolescence may also involve that youth become reluctant to spend time with their parents and that they become more likely to engage in arguments with their parents. Research indicates that both parents and adolescents report that they feel less close to each other during this time (Steinberg & Morris, 2001). The purpose of this study was to investigate what adolescents' experiences were of their relationship with their parents, what influence the parent-adolescent relationship (as perceived by the adolescent) has on adolescent emotional-well-being, as well as to determine whether or not adolescents' emotional well-being can be predicted by the parent-adolescent relationship. A quantitative cross-sectional survey research design was used for the purpose of this study. The selected sample included grade 9 to l I learners at various secondary schools who fitted the selection criteria (N = 257). Data collection took place by means of various validated questionnaires to measure the parent-adolescent relationship: The Family Satisfaction Scale (Olson & Wilson, 1982), The Parent- adolescent Communication Scale (Barnes & Olson, 1982), The Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (IPPA) of Armsden and Greenberg (1987). To measure adolescent emotional well-being, The Emotional Intelligence Scale (E LS) of Schutte et al. ( 1998), The Fortitude Questionnaire (FORQ) of Pretorius ( 1997), The Affectometer (AFM) of Kammann and Flett ( l 983), The General Hea lth Questionnaire (GHQ) of Goldberg and Hillier ( 1979) and a biographical questionnaire were used to gather demographic information. There were a total of 152 questions, and it took 30-45 minutes to complete. Data analysis was done by means of descriptive stati stics, reliabi lity and validity indices, correlation indices and t-tests; and Cohen's practical effect size was used to investigate significant differences. The results of the study indicate that the majority of adolescents in the research group rate their relationship with their parents positively, although significant differences were found between genders with regard to family satisfaction and between cultures with regard to parent-adolescent communication. The results also seem to indicate that higher manifestations of aspects of emotional well-being are experienced by the African youth than the white participants; and that a healthy parent-adolescent relationship can have a positive influence on adolescent emotional well-being. The parent-adolescent relationship served as a predictor of adolescent emotional well-being, while attachment anger and family cohesion were found to be the strongest predictors of this.
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