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Effects of Parental Attachment Style and Parental Expectations on Family Conflict in Families with Adolescents
Unformatted Document Text:  Attachment and Family Influence on Adolescence 11 turn to parents under conditions of extreme stress (Steinberg, 1990), and parents are still often used as attachment figures even in young adulthood. In other ways, however, adolescent behavior towards attachment figures does seem to represent a clear break with prior patterns of attachment behavior. Very little behavior at early stages of development matches the intensity of an adolescent’s need to overcome the need to depend on parents, which may lead the adolescent, at times, to actively avoid relying on parents when stressed (Steinberg, 1990). Although answers for this can be found just as easily in the literature on social influence on human motivation and cognition, from an attachment perspective, this behavior is seen as part of the developmental changes. Adolescents often appear to be engaged in an active, purposeful flight away from attachment relationships with parents and other parental attachment figures. Attachment bonds to parents are often thought of by adolescents as ties that bind and restrain; one of the important goals of adolescence is to break free, to develop autonomy. Consequently, parents are forced to come to terms with separation-related issues, adapting to the adolescents’ increased self-reliance and autonomy. This requires parents, and adolescents, to renegotiate roles and responsibilities. Of the myriad changes that an adolescent and the family deal with, the major change, according to attachment theory, is the adolescent’s increased cognitive capacity for managing “goal- corrected” partnerships. “Goal-corrected” partnerships provide an important context for considering one of the most important and intriguing changes of adolescence: the decreased reliance on parents as attachment figures. This is not to imply that attachment to parents suddenly becomes unimportant, but that it reflects that the adolescent is becoming less dependent on the parents in a number of ways (Larson et al., 1996). Young adolescents desire greater control but are still significantly dependent on parents for many areas of life. The development of

Authors: Allen, Donna. and Rangarajan, Sripriya.
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Attachment and Family Influence on Adolescence 11
turn to parents under conditions of extreme stress (Steinberg, 1990), and parents are still often
used as attachment figures even in young adulthood. In other ways, however, adolescent
behavior towards attachment figures does seem to represent a clear break with prior patterns of
attachment behavior. Very little behavior at early stages of development matches the intensity of
an adolescent’s need to overcome the need to depend on parents, which may lead the adolescent,
at times, to actively avoid relying on parents when stressed (Steinberg, 1990). Although answers
for this can be found just as easily in the literature on social influence on human motivation and
cognition, from an attachment perspective, this behavior is seen as part of the developmental
changes.
Adolescents often appear to be engaged in an active, purposeful flight away from
attachment relationships with parents and other parental attachment figures. Attachment bonds to
parents are often thought of by adolescents as ties that bind and restrain; one of the important
goals of adolescence is to break free, to develop autonomy. Consequently, parents are forced to
come to terms with separation-related issues, adapting to the adolescents’ increased self-reliance
and autonomy. This requires parents, and adolescents, to renegotiate roles and responsibilities.
Of the myriad changes that an adolescent and the family deal with, the major change, according
to attachment theory, is the adolescent’s increased cognitive capacity for managing “goal-
corrected” partnerships. “Goal-corrected” partnerships provide an important context for
considering one of the most important and intriguing changes of adolescence: the decreased
reliance on parents as attachment figures. This is not to imply that attachment to parents
suddenly becomes unimportant, but that it reflects that the adolescent is becoming less dependent
on the parents in a number of ways (Larson et al., 1996). Young adolescents desire greater
control but are still significantly dependent on parents for many areas of life. The development of


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