In Which Situations Do Adolescents Seek Parental Support and What Do They Need?

Yanine B. de Jonge, Maaike H. Nauta, Guy Bosmans*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Throughout development, the conditions that elicit children’s support seeking behaviour change hand in hand with maturation and changing developmental tasks. Little is known about the situations in which adolescents need support or about which parental behaviours elicit adolescents’ sense of being supported. In the current study, adolescents living in the Netherlands (N = 98, Mage = 15.5, SD = 1.16, range = 14–18 years) filled in online questionnaires in which they were asked to recall autobiographical support-related memories (ASMs) separately for both parents. Support from both parents was most frequently needed in case of concerns about competence. Loss or illness of close others or pets elicited primarily a need for maternal support whereas family conflicts and practical problems most frequently elicited a need for paternal support. Additionally, parent behaviour reported in times of distress was most frequently related to comforting and facilitating support seeking. These behaivours were rated as satisfying and sufficiently supportive for the reported distress. These results confirm the importance of parental support in adolescence. Clinical implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2849–2859
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Child and Family Studies
Early online date22-Mar-2022
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2022


  • Adolescents
  • Attachment theory
  • Autobiographical support memory
  • Parental support
  • Support situation

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