Late adolescent girls' relationships with parents and romantic partner: the distinct role of mothers and fathers

J Adolesc. 2008 Dec;31(6):837-55. doi: 10.1016/j.adolescence.2008.06.012. Epub 2008 Nov 4.


The distinct role of mothers and fathers in shaping the quality of relationships with romantic partner was explored. One hundred and twenty 17-year old girls were observed during their senior year in high school with each of their parents during a Revealed differences task [Allen, J. P., Hauser, S. T., Bell, K. L., Boykin, K. A., & Tate, D. C. (1994). Autonomy and relatedness coding system manual, version 2.01. Unpublished manual] and filled out questionnaires pertaining to their relationships with romantic partners. A year and a half later (7 months after conscription to compulsory military service) they again filled out questionnaires. Whereas self-reports did not distinguish between relations with mothers and fathers observational data revealed that relationships with each parent are associated with somewhat different aspects of the romantic relationship. Better quality of relationship with mother was associated with delays in the girl's entrance into sexual romantic relationships, and with better quality of romantic relationship concurrently whereas better quality of relationship with father was associated with better quality of romantic relationship once they are formed concurrently and longitudinally. The findings highlight the central role that mothers and fathers play in shaping the quality of the romantic relationships that late adolescent girls form and underscore the importance of using observational data as well as questionnaire data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Courtship / psychology*
  • Father-Child Relations*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Israel
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Love*
  • Male
  • Military Personnel / psychology*
  • Mother-Child Relations*
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Personality Assessment
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Socialization
  • Transfer, Psychology*
  • Young Adult