Healthy Relationships

Compositive Model

Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships include relationships with parents, siblings, peers, non-parental adults, and other individuals that play a significant role in the lives of young people. 

Family relationships

Research over the years has found that “authoritative parenting” leads to a variety of positive psychosocial outcomes. Authoritative parenting is characterized by warmth, high expectations, and supervision.

  • A classic 1991 study by Susie Lamborn, a psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin, found that children reared in homes with an authoritative parenting style — in which parents were high in demandingness (“strictness/supervision”) and responsiveness (“acceptance/involvement”) reported better psychological development, psychosocial competence and lower levels of externalizing and internalizing problems.
  • On the other side of the coin, Lamborn found, children who experienced neglectful parenting (i.e., a parenting style characterized by low levels of demandingness and responsiveness) reported lower levels of psychosocial competence and school competence and generally higher levels of psychological problems.
  • Lamborn also found that children with parents who used an authoritarian parenting style (i.e., high in demandingness and low in responsiveness) or an indulgent parenting style (i.e., low in demandingness and high in responsiveness) fared somewhere in between children from authoritative and neglectful homes. 
    • Children who experienced authoritarian parenting generally demonstrated lower levels of school misconduct and drug use compared to their counterparts from indulgent homes. 
    • Children who experienced authoritarian parenting also had higher levels of school competence, but lower levels of social competence.
  • A different study found that parenting styles had a significant influence on substance use and delinquency during adolescence.

Promising practices:

  • The Family Check-Up Model is an intervention program delivered through schools to meet the needs of families. It works to promote positive developmental outcomes and mitigate problematic behavior by providing a variety of services such as a comprehensive family assessment and information about parenting skills.
  • Children who participated in the program demonstrated improvements in self-regulation, which led to increases in school engagement and decreases in depression years later.

Peer and romantic relationships

Friendships during adolescence can have long-lasting impacts on development – both positive and negative.

  • People who experienced peer rejecting during adolescence experienced lower overall life satisfaction in middle adulthood, according to one study.
  • Adolescents who had strong relationships with their mother were less likely to have intense romantic engagements during adolescence, suggesting that such engagements aren’t developmentally appropriate during mid-adolescence.
  • Yet, somewhat paradoxically, the same study found that adolescents who had strong relationships with their mother during childhood tended to have healthier romantic relationships during adolescence. 

Promising practices:

  • Ending Violence is a curriculum that helps adolescents avoid abusive relationships and educates teens about how to end abusive relationships.
  • Research found that participation in Ending Violence was associated with a variety of positive outcomes including increases in knowledge regarding how to seek help.

Mentoring/non-parental adult relationships

The needs of a mentee and the benefits of mentoring relationships vary depending on the previous relationships the mentee has experienced and mentee’s developmental status.

  • Students with “adequate” relationship experiences with adults benefitted more from mentoring than did students with strong or poor relationship experiences, one study found.
  • A meta-analysis of mentoring programs noted that there is a positive effect for youth participating in mentoring programs. 
    • Participants in mentoring programs experienced multiple positive outcomes, including fewer behavior problems and better academic performance.

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