, Volume 27, Issue 2, pp 165-184

Adolescents' Closeness with Parents, Siblings, and Friends in Three Countries: Canada, Belgium, and Italy

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Abstract

This study compared interpersonal relationships of adolescents from Canada, Belgium, and Italy. The sample of 377 subjects was composed almost equally of boys and girls, grouped into three age groups ranging from 11 to 18 years. Each subject participated in a semistructured interview designed to examine the levels of closeness with the mother, father, siblings, and close friends. The study revealed important discrepancies among the adolescents from the three countries. Family was found to occupy a more central role in the relational world of Italian adolescents, whereas friends were found to occupy a more important place for Canadian youth. Belgian adolescents were found to adopt a middle position between these two extremes. Variations in cultural context and cultural practices are explored as a possible interpretation of these differences. The study also revealed significant consistencies across the three countries: the importance of friends in the relational life of adolescents, the privileged position of the mother in the family, and the distant position of the father.