The importance of parents and other caregivers to the resilience of high-risk adolescents

Fam Process. 2004 Mar;43(1):23-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2004.04301004.x.


Relationships between 43 high-risk adolescents and their caregivers were examined qualitatively. Parents and other formal and informal caregivers such as youth workers and foster parents were found to exert a large influence on the behaviors that bolster mental health among high-risk youth marginalized by poverty, social stigma, personal and physical characteristics, ethnicity, and poor social or academic performance. Participants' accounts of their intergenerational relationships with caregivers showed that teenagers seek close relationships with adults in order to negotiate for powerful self-constructions as resilient. High-risk teens say they want the adults in their lives to serve as an audience in front of whom they can perform the identities they construct both inside and outside their homes. This pattern was evident even among youth who presented as being more peer-than family-oriented. The implications of these findings to interventions with caregivers and teens is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Caregivers*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Conduct Disorder / psychology*
  • Conduct Disorder / therapy*
  • Family Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Parenting*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Socioeconomic Factors