Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2000. SD 1.9 Closeness With Parents

01/01/2000

The quality of relationships that youth have with parents is important for several aspects of their development; for example, a positive parent-child relationship can promote an adolescent’s ability to handle stress.12 Recent research suggests that closeness with parents serves as a protective factor against emotional distress, substance use, early sexual activity, and suicide thoughts or attempts.13

Differences by Age. More young adolescents report feeling very close to parents than do older adolescents; for example, more youth ages 12 through 14 (78 percent) report a very close relationship with their resident biological mother than do youth ages 15 through 17 (66 percent). Similar patterns are found for reports of closeness to resident and nonresident biological fathers, as well as resident nonbiological parents (see Figure SD 1.9).

Differences by Gender. Males report feeling closer to their parents than do females; for example, 74 percent of adolescent males compared with 65 percent of adolescent females report feeling very close to their resident biological mothers. Similarly, 64 percent of adolescent males report feeling very close to their resident biological fathers, compared with 51 percent of female youth.

Differences by Race and Hispanic Origin.14 More black and Hispanic youth than white youth report feeling very close to their mothers or mother figures; for example, 78 percent of black adolescents and 74 percent of Hispanic adolescents report feeling very close to their resident biological mother, while 68 percent of white adolescents report a similar relationship with their resident biological mother. Feelings of closeness with fathers followed the same pattern, with black and Hispanic youth reporting closer relationships than white youth. However, the variations by race or Hispanic origin were not as pronounced for fathers as for mothers (see Table SD 1.9).

Differences by Socioeconomic Status. Generally speaking, youth from low-income families were more likely to report being very close to their resident parents (biological and nonbiological); for example, youth whose parents earned between $5,000 and $9,999 per year were more likely to report very close relationships with their resident biological mother (78 percent) than were youth whose parents earned $25,000 to $34,999 per year (68 percent). (see Table SD 1.9).

Differences by Status of Parent. More adolescents report feelings of closeness with resident than with nonresident biological parents. Furthermore, adolescents report feeling closer to nonbiological resident parents than nonresident biological parents. For example, 70 percent of youth report feeling very close to their resident biological mother, compared with 61 percent who report feeling very close to their resident nonbiological mother and 37 percent who report feeling very close to their nonresident biological mother. Similar patterns exist for fathers and father figures.

 

12 Hawes, D. 1996. Who Knows Who Best: A Program to Stimulate Parent-Teen Interaction. School Counselor 44 (2): 115-121.
13 Resnick, M.D., et al. 1997. Protecting Adolescents from Harm: Findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. Journal of the American Medical Association 278 (10): 823-832.
14 Estimates of whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races.

 

Table SD 1.9 Percentage of youth ages 12 through 17 in the United States who report feeling very close to their parents, by parent type and by age, gender, race and Hispanic origin, parents’ education, and socioeconomic status: 1995

  Resident Biological Mother Resident Non-Biological Mother Resident Biological Mother Resident Biological Father Resident Non-Biological Father Resident Biological Father
Total 70 61 37 58 34 21
Age
12-14 78 71 38 68 44 29
15-17 66 58 37 53 29 18
Gender
Male 74 64 41 64 40 25
Female 65 57 32 51 29 17
Race and Hispanic origin a
White, non-Hispanic 68 58 31 58 34 20
Black, non-Hispanic 78 65 55 61 33 22
Hispanic 74 67 41 59 35 24
Other b 64 63 29 53 43 20
Education of most educated parent
Less than high school 75 68 38 60 47 19
High school graduate 72 63 42 59 36 20
Some college or postsecondary 67 59 27 54 24 18
College graduate or more 67 56 37 57 34 24
Annual household income
Less than $5,000 78 74 48 77 72 31
$5,000 - $9,999 78 57 36 66 54 23
$10,000 - $14,999 75 71 44 56 36 15
$15,000 - $24,999 73 72 38 60 43 20
$25,000 - $34,999 68 49 42 59 32 17
$35,000 - $49,999 72 51 33 62 34 24
$50,000 - $74,999 67 53 47 57 28 23
$75,000 - $99,999 65 61 36 56 33 20
$100,000 + 64 56 20 53 33 27

a Estimates for whites and blacks exclude Hispanics of those races. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
b “Other” race category includes respondents who chose Asian, American Indian, or other race and also did not identify themselves (in a separate question) as Hispanic.
Source: The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Wave 1, 1995, tabulations by Child Trends.

 

Figure SD 1.9 Percentage of youth ages 12 through 17 in the United States who report feeling very close to their parents, by age and parent type: 1995

Source: The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Wave 1, 1995, tabulations by Child Trends.

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