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Longitudinal Associations Between Parent-Adolescent Relationships and Adolescent Peer and Romantic Relationships: A Meta-Analysis

Sat, March 23, 2:30 to 3:45pm, Baltimore Convention Center, Floor: Level 1, Exhibit Hall B

Integrative Statement

Establishing positive and healthy relationships with peers and romantic partners is a key developmental task in adolescence and young adulthood. If adolescents fail to form positive relationships with peers and romantic partners, they are at risk for developing health and adjustment problems, such as depression and anxiety (Umberson et al., 2010). Attachment and social cognitive theories emphasize that adolescents’ ability to form and maintain positive relationships with peers and romantic partners derives from adolescents’ relationship quality with their parents (Collins et al., 2009). While ample research generally supports a continuity of parent-child relationship quality to other social relationships (Meeus, 2016), it remains unclear to what extent positive and negative aspects of the parent-child relationship persist into peer and romantic relationships across and beyond adolescence. Furthermore, much remains unknown about the extent to which these specific aspects of parent-adolescent relationships predict other aspects of peer and romantic relationships.
This meta-analysis aims to synthesize and expand previous research by examining how positive and negative aspects of the parent-adolescent relationship predict positive and negative aspects of relationship quality with peers and romantic partners. As such, this meta-analysis provides insight into the continuity of different aspects of parent-adolescent relationships to peer and romantic relationships.
We conducted systematic searches in five databases (e.g., PsycINFO, Web of Science) to identify studies that (i) assessed longitudinal associations between parent-adolescent relationship quality and adolescent peer or romantic relationship quality, (ii) measured positive or negative aspects of parent-adolescent and adolescent peer or romantic relationship quality, and (iii) assessed parent-adolescent relationship quality in adolescence. Two aspects of relationship quality were assessed: support and conflict. Using a multi-level cross-lagged approach, which accounts for the stability of relationship quality over time and the concurrent associations between parent-adolescent and adolescent-peer or adolescent-partner relationship quality at each time point, we modeled the longitudinal associations between parent-adolescent and adolescent peer relationships as well as adolescent romantic relationships, respectively.
Our systematic search identified 850 effect sizes from 51 unique studies for relationship outcomes with peers, and 143 effect sizes from 36 unique studies for relationship outcomes with romantic partners. Mean standardized cross-lagged effects indicate that more supportive relationships with parents predict more supportive relationships with peers (r=.17, 95%CI [0.14,0.21], k=159) and romantic partners (r=.11, 95%CI [0.06,0.17], k=37) in later adolescence and adulthood, whereas more conflictive relationships with parents predict more conflictive relationships with peers (r=.16, 95% CI [0.07,0.25], k=40) and romantic partners (r=.18, 95%CI [0.12,0.24], k=35) in later adolescence and adulthood. More supportive adolescent-parent relationships further predicted less conflictive subsequent relationships with peers (r=−.09, 95%CI [−0.14, −0.05], k=47) and romantic partners (r=−.09, 95%CI [−0.15,−0.04], k=13), while more conflictive adolescent-parent relationships did not predict levels of support in adolescent social relationships. Due to significant heterogeneity in these effect sizes, we further discuss potential moderators (e.g., adolescent age, wave length, reporter) of these associations.
The results of this meta-analysis highlight the importance of early positive parent-adolescent relationships and emphasize the need for interventions that focus on strengthening the bond between parents and adolescents.