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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Characteristics of adolescents’ relationships with significant non-parental adults Brown, Heather Mara


The purpose of this research was to explore the characteristics (age differences, sex differences, kinship status, role) of significant non-parental adult and adolescent dyads and to determine how relationship configurations are associated with adolescents' psychosocial adjustment. Using a sample of grade 12 students (N= 192), age and sex similarities and differences between adolescents and significant adults were examined as well as kinship status and role configurations between the dyads. Findings indicate that a substantial number of the adolescents identified a significant non-parental adult in their lives. Reports of significant adults were strongly differentiated along gender lines; male and female adolescents were both more likely to report significant non-parental adult who were the same sex as them as opposed to significant adults of the opposite sex. Adolescents who reported kin or non-role specific significant adults had higher levels of social maturity than adolescents who identified non-kin or role-specific significant adults. Adolescents who identified role-specific significant non-parental adults had lower levels of problem behaviors than adolescents who reported non-role-specific significant adults. Importance of the significant non-parental adults was not associated with any of the psychosocial adjustment indicators. It would seem that the presence of significant non-parental adults in adolescents' lives might be beneficial to the psychosocial adjustment of adolescents if the adults are kin. Both role types (specific and non-specific) may benefit adolescents but in varying ways.

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