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Parents' Involvement in Adolescents' Peer Relationships: A Comparison of Mothers' and Fathers' Roles

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Abstract

The goals of this study were to compare mothers' and fathers' direct involvement in adolescent girls' versus boys' peer relationships and to examine the links between parents' involvement and the qualities of adolescents' friendship and peer experiences. Participants were mothers, fathers, and firstborn adolescents (mean age = 15 years) in 187 working- and middle-class families. Data were collected during home visits and a series of seven nightly telephone interviews. Parents' direct involvement was measured by parents' reports of their peer-oriented activities, parents' knowledge about adolescents' peer experiences, and parents' time spent with adolescents and their peers. Findings revealed that mothers were more knowledgeable about adolescents' peer relationships than were fathers, that mothers with daughters reported the most peer-oriented activities, and that both mothers and fathers spent more time with same-sex adolescents and their peers. Parents' direct involvement was differentially related to girls' versus boys' peer experiences. Discussion highlights the role of parents' and adolescents' gender in shaping this dimension of family life in adolescence.

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