Does Adolescents' Disclosure to Their Parents Matter for Their Academic Adjustment?


  • This research was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grant R01 MH57505. We appreciate the constructive comments on an earlier version of this article provided by Elizabeth Moorman Kim, Florrie Fei-Yin Ng, Qian Wang, and members of the Center for Parent–Child Studies at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Cecilia Cheung or Eva Pomerantz, Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 603 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL 61820. Electronic mail may be sent to or


The role of adolescents' disclosure to their parents in their academic adjustment was examined in a study of 825 American and Chinese adolescents (mean age = 12.73 years). Four times over the seventh and eighth grades, adolescents reported on their spontaneous disclosure of everyday activities to their parents, the quality of their relationships with their parents, and their parents' autonomy support and control. Information about multiple dimensions of adolescents' academic adjustment (e.g., learning strategies, autonomous vs. controlled motivation, and grades) was also obtained. Both American and Chinese adolescents' disclosure predicted their enhanced academic adjustment over time. However, when American adolescents disclosed in a negative context (e.g., a poor parent–child relationship or controlling parenting), their autonomous (vs. controlled) motivation was undermined.