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

August 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: Defying Mendelian genetics and 'embryo engineering'

Related Stories

Defying Mendelian genetics and 'embryo engineering'

February 20, 2017

Mendel's laws, like any laws in science, are wonderful because they make predictions possible. A woman and man both carry a recessive mutation in the same gene, and each of their children has a 25% chance of inheriting both ...

A new way to teach children about eating disorders

March 3, 2017

An estimated 1.6m people in the UK have experienced an eating disorder. In the US, these figures are as high as 20m women and 10m men. With numbers like these, and rising levels of body disaffection among young people, tackling ...

Cultural differences may leave their mark on DNA

January 10, 2017

A UC San Francisco-led study has identified signatures of ethnicity in the genome that appear to reflect an ethnic group's shared culture and environment, rather than their common genetic ancestry.

An autism 'revolution' in the history of child development

February 16, 2017

What is autism and how did we come to understand it as a spectrum? A new book by QMUL researcher Dr Bonnie Evans uncovers the social history of autism, how it has come to define so many lives, and why its meaning was transformed ...

Recommended for you

Research breakthrough in treating anxiety and depression

March 22, 2017

Pioneered by researchers at Monash University, a promising new, 'whole person' approach to the treatment of anxiety and depression has been developed in an effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of current treatment, ...

Mouse study identifies new method for treating depression

March 21, 2017

Standard antidepressant medications don't work for everyone, and even when they do they are slow to kick in. In an effort to find better depression treatments, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine ...

0 comments

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.