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: Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

Related Stories

Inherited IQ can increase in early childhood

January 18, 2018
When it comes to intelligence, environment and education matter – more than we think.

Identical twins can share more than identical genes

January 9, 2018
An international group of researchers has discovered a new phenomenon that occurs in identical twins: independent of their identical genes, they share an additional level of molecular similarity that influences their biological ...

Hearing different accents at home impacts language processing in infants

December 5, 2017
Infants raised in homes where they hear a single language, but spoken with different accents, recognize words dramatically differently at about 12 months of age than their age-matched peers exposed to little variation in ...

Individual choices, not family influence teenagers' non-alcoholic drink preference

December 5, 2017
Adolescents' non-alcoholic drinks preferences are strongly influenced by their own individual circumstances and lifestyle choices, but not by their families and home environment, according to a new UCL study.

Survey provides insight into demographics and health of California's transgender adults

October 31, 2017
The first release of transgender data from the California Health Interview Survey, the nation's largest state survey, reveals the demographic characteristics of transgender adults in the state—such as population size, racial ...

Immune diseases inflict identical twins differently

December 13, 2017
Any parent with identical twins knows their two children are actually remarkably different. Identical twins are genetically identical, but they are not identical in gene expressions, a difference attributable to epigenetics. ...

Recommended for you

People with prosthetic arms less affected by common illusion

January 22, 2018
People with prosthetic arms or hands do not experience the "size-weight illusion" as strongly as other people, new research shows.

Study of learning and memory problems in OCD helps young people unlock potential at school

January 22, 2018
Adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have widespread learning and memory problems, according to research published today. The findings have already been used to assist adolescents with OCD obtain the help ...

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

Babies' babbling betters brains, language

January 18, 2018
Babies are adept at getting what they need - including an education. New research shows that babies organize mothers' verbal responses, which promotes more effective language instruction, and infant babbling is the key.

College branding makes beer more salient to underage students

January 18, 2018
In recent years, major beer companies have tried to capitalize on the salience of students' university affiliations, unveiling marketing campaigns and products—such as "fan cans," store displays, and billboard ads—that ...

Modulating molecules: Study shows oxytocin helps the brain to modulate social signals

January 17, 2018
Between sights, sounds, smells and other senses, the brain is flooded with stimuli on a moment-to-moment basis. How can it sort through the flood of information to decide what is important and what can be relegated to the ...

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.