Reconsidering changes in parent-child conflict across adolescence: a meta-analysis

Child Dev. 1998 Jun;69(3):817-32.


A series of meta-analyses addresses whether and how parent-child conflict changes during adolescence and factors that moderate patterns of change. The meta-analyses summarize results from studies of change in parent-child conflict as a function of either adolescent age or pubertal maturation. Three types of parent-adolescent conflict are examined: conflict rate, conflict affect, and total conflict (rate and affect combined). The results provide little support for the commonly held view that parent-child conflict rises and then falls across adolescence, although conclusions regarding pubertal change as well as conflict affect are qualified by the limited number of studies available. Two diverging sets of linear effects emerged, one indicating a decline in conflict rate and total conflict with age and the other indicating an increase in conflict affect with both age and pubertal maturation. In age meta-analyses, conflict rate and total conflict decline from early adolescence to mid-adolescence and from mid-adolescence to late adolescence; conflict affect increases from early adolescence to mid-adolescence. Puberty meta-analyses revealed only a positive linear association between conflict affect and pubertal maturation. Effect-size patterns varied little in follow-up analyses of potential moderating variables, implying similarities in the direction (although not the magnitude) of conflict across parent-adolescent dyads, reporters, and measurement procedures.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Conflict, Psychological*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Personality Development
  • Psychology, Adolescent*
  • Puberty / psychology