Adolescent autonomy, parent-adolescent conflict, and parental well-being

Susan B. Silverberg, Laurence Steinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examines whether parents' reports of well-being are related to the level of parent-adolescent conflict in the family and their youngsters' level of emotional autonomy. The sample is composed of 129 intact families with a first-born child between the ages of 10 and 15. Measures included parents' reports of midlife identity concerns, self-esteem, life satisfaction, psychological symptoms, and parent-adolescent conflict, as well as youngsters' reports of emotional autonomy vis-à-vis parents. Findings indicate that (1) parents' experience of midlife identity concerns is positively related to the level of emotional autonomy reported by same-sex children; (2) mothers', but not fathers', well-being is negatively related to the intensity of parent-adolescent conflict; and (3) socioeconomic status moderates the relation between parental well-being and parent-adolescent relations. These results are discussed in terms of psychoanalytic and parental stress perspectives on parental well-being during the adolescent years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)293-312
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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