Adolescent Development of Parent and Peer Dependence
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Autonomy is an important developmental task that begins in toddlerhood and continues into adulthood. Research has generally examined autonomy from parents and peers in adolescence, as there are a number of cognitive, physical, and emotional changes during this period of development that may influence how youth become autonomous. There is limited research, however, on how dependence (or lack of autonomy) from both relationships develops jointly across adolescence. As well, few studies have examined the relationship quality and psychosocial adjustment outcomes associated with joint parent and peer dependence. The objectives of the current research were to investigate how the combination of parent and peer dependence develops together, and to assess its effects on youth’s functioning. In the first study, semiparametric group-based modeling analyses were used to identify youth that followed different developmental trajectories of dependence with parents and peers. Our results indicated that there are individual differences in autonomy development, with some youth following a high trajectory of parent and/or peer dependence, and others following a low trajectory of parent and/ or peer dependence. Four joint parent and peer dependence trajectory groups emerged. The second study built on the results from Study 1 and found that youth who reported low levels of dependence on both parents and peers had healthy relationships and psychosocial adjustment. On the other hand, youth with high dependence on both parents and peers may be at risk for psychosocial problems. Results also suggest that parent and peer dependence may have differential roles in influencing adolescent functioning. Together, these findings emphasize the interrelatedness of parent and peer dependence, and demonstrate the need to consider both parent and peer relationship contexts when examining youth functioning.