Parents can play an active role in the identity formation of their adolescent children

Aug 27, 2008

Mainstream belief regarding identity theory tends to portray adolescents as the sole agents involved in their identity development. However, a new article in the Journal of Research on Adolescence reveals that parents are concerned, involved, and reflective participants in their children's identity formation.

Elli Schachter, PhD, of Bar Ilan University and Jonathan Ventura of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, studied parents, adolescents, and educators affiliated with the Orthodox Jewry in Israel. Researchers documented and described parents that invested a great amount of time and effort thinking about their children's identity, even fashioning their own lives with their children's future identities in mind.

The parents demonstrated the extent to which they saw themselves as active participants in their children's identity formation. They reflected on how best to form relationships with their children, what environments to choose for their children that would best serve some vision of what they hope their children will become, and how they hope their children will come to see themselves.

Such thinking and planning can be very complex, taking into account broad socio-cultural factors, personal psychological dynamics, and ethical concerns. However, parents did not act as mere socializing agents, blindly attempting to reproduce traditional values and roles within their children. Rather, they took a complex view, respecting their children's agency while also taking broader, social and cultural perspectives into account.

"Research on identity within the field of psychology should broaden its focus to include a wider unit of analysis than the solitary individual," the authors conclude. "Such a focus will empower parents and educators to take a more conscious, positive, and active though careful role in the identity formation of youth while previously such a role may have been understood and portrayed as 'out-of-bounds.'"

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Women, poor, uninsured face higher risk of psychological distress: CDC

Related Stories

How parents threaten children's online privacy

May 13, 2015

Most parents go to great lengths to keep their children safe online—but what if parents themselves, through the simple act of posting photos to Facebook and Instagram, are putting their own kids at risk ...

Recommended for you

The new normal? Addressing gun violence in America

5 hours ago

Article Spotlight features summaries written in collaboration with authors of recently published articles by the Journals Program of the American Psychological Association. The articles are nominated by the editors as noteworthy ...

Demi Lovato gets vocal about mental illness

9 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Demi Lovato huddled in the back of her tour bus, eyes wet with tears as she watched a horde of fans streaming into the venue where she was about to play.

Acquiring 'perfect' pitch may be possible for some adults

9 hours ago

If you're a musician, this sounds too good to be true: University of Chicago psychologists have been able to train some adults to develop the prized musical ability of absolute pitch, and the training's effects ...

How men and women see each other when online dating

11 hours ago

In the world of online dating, nothing is as it seems. But that doesn't stop many of us from leaping to the wrong conclusions about people. A recent paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.