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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 7 by higher levels of disengagement, dysfunctional anger, and use of pressuring tactics that tend to undermine autonomy. Some explanations for these kinds of interactions could be that parents interpret adolescents’ efforts to establish autonomy as presenting a real threat to the dyadic relationship. Another explanation is that insecure adolescents (and parents) may be overwhelmed by the affect brought on by the disagreement (Cassidy & Shaver, 1999). The interaction patterns of families of insecure adolescents may be problematic at any point in development, but they are particularly problematic in adolescence, when autonomy strivings (and the developmental forces that drive them) almost certainly require some sensitive negotiation of the relationship with the parents (Allen, Kuperminc, & Moore, 1997; Youniss, 1980). The moodiness, changing relationships, tensions, and growing emotional and behavioral independence from parents that characterize adolescent development may all conspire to create a chronic state of activation of the attachment system, thus increasing the impact of an insecure parental relationship on the adolescent. Ironically, this occurs at the same time that the adolescent is trying to begin to reduce the centrality of the parental relationship in his or her life (Cassidy & Shaver, 1999). Ge, et al.’s (1996) study supports the notion of mutuality of interactions as a possible determinant of parent- adolescent interaction outcomes. They describe this interrelated influence as “a mutually interlocking evocative interaction” (p. 587). Since the parent-child relationship is reciprocally causal, the mutual effects of adolescence involving the adolescent gaining autonomy at the same time the parents are losing influence and control must be considered (Jang & Smith, 1997). A parent’s inability to accept the shift of power could be as great or even greater a source of conflict than the changes in the adolescent. The increased confrontation by the adolescent might be seen as an attack on the role

Authors: Allen, Donna. and Rangarajan, Sripriya.
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Attachment and Family Influence on Adolescence 7
by higher levels of disengagement, dysfunctional anger, and use of pressuring tactics that tend to
undermine autonomy.
Some explanations for these kinds of interactions could be that parents interpret
adolescents’ efforts to establish autonomy as presenting a real threat to the dyadic relationship.
Another explanation is that insecure adolescents (and parents) may be overwhelmed by the affect
brought on by the disagreement (Cassidy & Shaver, 1999). The interaction patterns of families of
insecure adolescents may be problematic at any point in development, but they are particularly
problematic in adolescence, when autonomy strivings (and the developmental forces that drive
them) almost certainly require some sensitive negotiation of the relationship with the parents
(Allen, Kuperminc, & Moore, 1997; Youniss, 1980). The moodiness, changing relationships,
tensions, and growing emotional and behavioral independence from parents that characterize
adolescent development may all conspire to create a chronic state of activation of the attachment
system, thus increasing the impact of an insecure parental relationship on the adolescent.
Ironically, this occurs at the same time that the adolescent is trying to begin to reduce the
centrality of the parental relationship in his or her life (Cassidy & Shaver, 1999). Ge, et al.’s
(1996) study supports the notion of mutuality of interactions as a possible determinant of parent-
adolescent interaction outcomes. They describe this interrelated influence as “a mutually
interlocking evocative interaction” (p. 587).
Since the parent-child relationship is reciprocally causal, the mutual effects of
adolescence involving the adolescent gaining autonomy at the same time the parents are losing
influence and control must be considered (Jang & Smith, 1997). A parent’s inability to accept the
shift of power could be as great or even greater a source of conflict than the changes in the
adolescent. The increased confrontation by the adolescent might be seen as an attack on the role


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