A novel study published in the Journal of Family Psychology sheds light on why childhood friendships fall apart and is the first to demonstrate that parents are an important source of these breakups.
Looking at data from 1,523 children (766 boys) from grades one to six, researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland conducted a survival analysis to identify the characteristics of parents that predict the stability of their children’s friendships. The researchers examined mother and father reports of their own depressive symptoms and parenting styles and used these reports to predict the occurrence and timing of the dissolution of best friendships from the beginning to the end of elementary school (grades one to six).
The researchers assessed three commonly recognized parenting styles: behavioural control such as curfews and monitoring; psychological control such as shaming and guilt; and warmth and affection. They also assessed parental depression to disentangle the unique contributions of parenting styles from parent mental health difficulties known to shape parenting. Lastly, they assessed the children’s peer social status or how well-liked they are by other children to separate the effects of parenting from difficulties that children have getting along with peers.
“We already know that peer status plays an important role in friendship outcomes. For example, well-liked children have more long-lasting relationships than do their classmates,” said Brett Laursen, Ph.D., co-author of the study and a professor and…
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