How Should Mothers React When They First Learn About Their Child’s Involvement With Deviant Peers? The Adolescents’ Perspective

Efrat Sher-Censor, Noam Yitshaki, Avi Assor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Little is known regarding how parents’ responses when first learning about their adolescents’ deviant peer affiliation affect adolescents’ further affiliation and disclosure of risk behavior to parents. Studies on the effects of parents’ warnings to control adolescents’ material or personal information resources are particularly scarce. To address these gaps, 237 Jewish Israeli adolescents who self-identified as interacting with deviant peers (40.50% female, mean age = 14.55 years, age range = 13–16 years) reported their mothers’ actual or anticipated responses when learning for the first time about their deviant peer affiliation. The results indicated that mothers’ warnings to control adolescents’ material and information resources were experienced as less frustrating and more satisfying of adolescents’ psychological needs than was mothers’ enactment of resource control. Mothers’ responses of autonomy support and warnings to use resource control were positively associated with cessation of deviant peer affiliation. Mothers’ enactment of resource control was associated with adolescents’ less disclosure and consultation with their mothers regarding risk behaviors, whereas the reverse was true for the general practice of autonomy support. Possible need-related mechanisms underlying the associations of warnings with the cessation of deviant peer affiliation are discussed. The results highlight the importance of parents’ autonomy-supportive response to the onset of deviant peer affiliation as a specific strategy that has benefits beyond the positive effects of the general practice of autonomy support. These findings suggest that it is important to promote an autonomy-supportive response to the onset of deviant peer affiliation also among parents who are generally autonomy-supportive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)935-951
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Volume50
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 May 2021

Keywords

  • Deviant peer affiliation
  • Disclosure
  • Parental autonomy support
  • Parental control
  • Risk behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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