Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Paul H. Wright


The purpose of this study was the investigation of the dynamics which occur in relationships between parents and their adolescent children. Two hundred and eighty-four adolescents from local high schools were surveyed using the Acquaintance Description Form for Adolescents. They were also asked to take home the Parental Response Questionnaire for their parents to complete. Of these, responses were received from one hundred and seven parents.

Previous research has suggested that differences exist between relationships maintained by adolescent children and their mothers and fathers, particularly on the variables of security and involvement. Fathers have traditionally been described as less secure in their relationships with their children than mothers are. Previous work also suggests that fathers are less secure in their relationships with their daughters as compared to sons. The present study found fathers to indeed be less secure than mothers overall, but both mothers and fathers identified less security with their daughters. Fathers also described themselves as less involved with their children than mothers were.

When describing their parents, adolescents reported that mothers offered them more ego-supportiveness than did fathers. Daughters appreciated their parents' overall uniqueness and individuality more than did sons. Daughters also differentiated between their parents, finding mothers more stimulating and offering more emotional affirmation than did fathers. Sons did not differentiate between parents in this regard, but reported that they find mothers to be significantly less stimulating than do daughters. Sons also describe a significantly lesser amount of emotional support from their mothers than daughters report.

As not all parents surveyed chose to participate in our study, comparisons were made between the response patterns of children whose parents completed and returned their questionnaires, and those who did not. Teens whose parents did return their Parental Response Questionnaires described their parents as more ego-supportive, and tended to interact voluntarily with them more often. They also described their parents as more willing to contribute time and energy to their needs and goals, and generally found the parent-child relationship much less difficult to maintain than did teens whose parents did not return their questionnaires.