Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 659–670 | Cite as

Predictors of Adolescents’ Disclosure to Parents and Perceived Parental Knowledge: Between- and Within-Person Differences

  • Nancy DarlingEmail author
  • Patricio Cumsille
  • Linda L. Caldwell
  • Bonnie Dowdy

Adolescents’ willingness to share information with parents is a central process through which parents gain knowledge of their adolescents’ lives. This paper addresses four questions important to understanding adolescents’ decisions to voluntarily disclose areas of parent-adolescent disagreement: What are the contribution of parent-adolescent agreement and adolescents’ non-disclosure of disagreement to adolescents’ perceptions of parental knowledge?; Which adolescents are most likely to disclose to parents in case of disagreement?; Under what conditions are adolescents more or less likely to disclose disagreement?; and What type of non-disclosure will different adolescents use and under what conditions? Self-report data from 120 adolescents (M age=15.8) revealed that failure to disclose disagreement, but not overall agreement, predicted perceived parental knowledge. Adolescents from authoritative homes and those less involved in disapproved leisure were more likely to disclose disagreement and less likely to lie. Within-person differences in disclosure were predicted by the presence of explicit rules and adolescents’ beliefs about required obedience.


parent-child relations monitoring parent-adolescent communication lying disclosure 



We gratefully acknowledge the work of Ian Burns, Katherine Hames, Kristen Jacobson, Teru Toyakawa, and the many undergraduate students involved in collecting, coding, and cleaning these data. We would like to express our gratitude to the adolescents who were interviewed for this project. Data collection was supported by a grant from College of Health and Human Development, the Pennsylvania State University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Darling
    • 1
    Email author
  • Patricio Cumsille
    • 2
  • Linda L. Caldwell
    • 3
  • Bonnie Dowdy
    • 4
  1. 1.Oberlin CollegeOberlinUSA
  2. 2.Universidad Católica de ChileCatólica de ChileUSA
  3. 3.The Pennsylvania State UniversityPennsylvaniaUSA
  4. 4.Virginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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