The Role of Family for Youth Friendships: Examining a Social Anxiety Mechanism
The quality of family relationships and youth friendships are intricately linked. Previous studies have examined different mechanisms of family-peer linkage, but few have examined social anxiety. The present study examined whether parental rejection and family climate predicted changes in youth social anxiety, which in turn predicted changes in friendship quality and loneliness. Possible bidirectional associations also were examined. Data for mothers, fathers, and youth (M age at Time 1 = 11.27; 52.3% were female) from 687 two-parent households over three time points are presented. Results from autoregressive, cross-lagged analyses revealed that father rejection (not mother rejection or family climate) at Time 1 (Fall of 6th Grade) predicted increased youth social anxiety at Time 2 (Spring of 7th Grade), which in turn, predicted increased loneliness at Time 3 (Spring of 8th Grade). The indirect effect of father rejection on loneliness was statistically significant. Mother rejection, father rejection, and a poor family climate were associated with decreased friendship quality and increased loneliness over time. Finally, there was some evidence of transactional associations between father rejection and youth social anxiety as well as between social anxiety and loneliness. This study’s findings underscore the important role of fathers in youth social anxiety and subsequent social adjustment.
KeywordsParental rejection Fathers Social anxiety Loneliness Friendship Peers
The authors gratefully acknowledge the contributions of the participating youth and families, and the PROSPER staff, to the success of this project.
This project was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (grant R01 DA013709) and co-funding from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (grant R01 AA14702). Additional support was provided by the Karl R. and Diane Wendle Fink Early Career Professorship for the Study of Families (to G.M.F.).
H.M. conceived the current study, performed statistical analyses, interpreted the data, and drafted and revised the manuscript; G.F. contributed to the conceptualization of the study, manuscript generation, supervised analyses, and manuscript revision; M.F. was a co-principal investigator of the original PROSPER study and provided feedback on this manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
All procedures performed involving human participants were approved by the local institutional review board.
Informed consent was obtained from all parents included in the study.
- Achenbach, T. M. (1991). Manual for the Youth Self-Report and 1991 profile. Burlington, VT: Department of Psychiatry, University of Vermont.Google Scholar
- Adachi, P., & Willoughby, T. (2015). Interpreting effect sizes when controlling for stability effects in longitudinal autoregressive models: Implications for psychological science. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 12, 116–128. https://doi.org/10.1080/17405629.2014.963549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Bagwell, C. L., Newcomb, A. F., & Bukowski, W. M. (1998). Preadolescent friendship and peer rejection as predictors of adult adjustment. Child Development, 69, 140–153. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8624.1998.tb06139.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Bagwell, C. L., & Schmidt, M. E. (2011). Friendships in childhood and adolescence. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Bowlby, J. (1973). Attachment and loss: Vol.2. Separation. New York, NY: Basic Books.Google Scholar
- Brennen, T. (1974). Evaluation and validation regarding the national strategy for youth development. Boulder, CO: Behavioral Research Evaluation Program.Google Scholar
- Erdley, C. A., & Day, H. J. (2017). Friendship in childhood and adolescence. In M. Hojjat & A. Moyer (Eds.), The psychology of friendship (pp. 3–19). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Fosco, G. M., Caruthers, A. S., & Dishion, T. J. (2012a). A six-year predictive test of adolescent family relationship quality and effortful control pathways to emerging adult social and emotional health. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 565–575. doi: 10.1037/a0028873.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Fosco, G. M., Stormshak, E. A., Dishion, T. J., & Winter, C. E. (2012b). Family relationships and parental monitoring during middle school as predictors of early adolescent problem behavior. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 41, 202–213. https://doi.org/10.1080/15374416.2012.651989.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Fosco, G. M., Van Ryzin, M. J., Xia, M., & Feinberg, M. E. (2016). Trajectories of adolescent hostile-aggressive behavior and family climate: Longitudinal implications for young adult romantic relationship competence. Developmental Psychology, 52, 1139–1150. https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000135.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Holt-Lunstad, J. (2017). Friendship and health. In M. Hojjat & A. Moyer (Eds.), The psychology of friendship (pp. 233–248). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kerns, K. A., Contreras, J. M. & Neal-Barnett, A. M. (Eds.) (2000). Family and peers: Linking two social worlds. Westport, CT: Praeger.Google Scholar
- Knappe, S., Beesdo-Baum, K., Fehm, L., Stein, M. B., Lieb, R., & Wittchen, H.-U. (2011). Social fear and social phobia types among community youth: Differential clinical features and vulnerability factors. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 45, 111–120. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2010.05.002.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Knappe, S., Lieb, R., Beesdo, K., Fehm, L., Ping Low, N. C., Gloster, A. T., & Wittchen, H.-U. (2009). The role of parental psychopathology and family environment for social phobia in the first three decades of life. Depression and Anxiety, 26, 363–370. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.20527.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Knappe, S., Sasagawa, S., & Creswell, C. (2015). Developmental epidemiology of social anxiety and social phobia in adolescents. In K. Ranta, A. M. La Greca, L. J. Garcia-Lopez & M. Marttunen (Eds.), Social anxiety and phobia in adolescents: Development, manifestation and intervention strategies (pp. 39–70). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- La Greca, A. M., & Ranta, K. (2015). Developmental transitions in adolescence and their implications for social anxiety. In K. Ranta, A. M. La Greca, L. J. Garcia-Lopez & M. Marttunen (Eds.), Social anxiety and phobia in adolescents: Development, manifestation and intervention strategies (pp. 95–117). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lamb, M. E., & Lewis, C. (2010). The development and significance of father-child relationships in two-parent families. In M. E. Lamb (Ed.), The role of the father in child development. 5th edn. (pp. 94–153). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Majdandžić, M., de Vente, W., Feinberg, M. E., Aktar, E., & Bögels, S. M. (2012). Bidirectional associations between coparenting relations and family member anxiety: A review and conceptual model. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 15, 28–42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-011-0103-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Merikangas, K. R., He, J., Burstein, M., Swanson, S. A., Avenevoli, S., & Cui, L., et al. (2010). Lifetime prevalence of mental disorders in U.S. adolescents: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication–Adolescent Supplement (NCS-A). Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 49, 980–989. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2010.05.017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Moos, B. S., & Moos, R. H. (1994). Family Environment Scale manual (3rd ed.). Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press.Google Scholar
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998). Mplus user’s guide (7th ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
- Nair, M. K. C., Russell, P. S. S., Subramaniam, V. S., Nazeema, S., Chembagam, N., & Russell, S., et al. (2013). ADad 8: School phobia and anxiety disorders among adolescents in a rural community population in India. The Indian Journal of Pediatrics, 80, 171–174. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12098-013-1208-3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Parke, R. D. & Ladd, G. W. (Eds.) (1992). Family-peer relationships: Modes of linkage. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
- Rohner, R. P. (1986). The warmth dimension. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.Google Scholar
- Rose, A. J., & Rudolph, K. D. (2006). A review of sex differences in peer relationship processes: Potential trade-offs for the emotional and behavioral development of girls and boys. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 98–131. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.132.1.98.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Sameroff, A. J. (Ed.). (2009). The transactional model of development: how children and contexts shape each other. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
- Spoth, R., Greenberg, M., Bierman, K., & Redmond, C. (2004). PROSPER community–university partnership model for public education systems: Capacity-building for evidence-based, competence-building prevention. Prevention Science, 5, 31–39. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:PREV.0000013979.52796.8b.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Sullivan, H. S. (1953). The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York: Norton.Google Scholar
- Tu, K. M., Erath, S. A., Pettit, G. S., & El-Sheikh, M. (2014). Physiological reactivity moderates the association between parental directing and young adolescent friendship adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 50, 2644–2653. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0038263.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Westenberg, M. P., Drewes, M. J., Goedhart, A. W., Siebelink, B. M., & Treffers, P. D. A. (2004). A developmental analysis of self-reported fears in late childhood through mid-adolescence: social-evaluative fears on the rise? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45, 481–495. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2004.00239.x.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Wittchen, H.-U., Stein, M. B., & Kessler, R. C. (1999). Social fears and social phobia in a community sample of adolescents and young adults: Prevalence, risk factors and co-morbidity. Psychological Medicine, 29, 309-323. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0033291798008174.
- Wong, Q. J. J., & Rapee, R. M. (2015). The developmental psychopathology of social anxiety and phobia in adolescents. In K. Ranta, A. M. La Greca, L. J. Garcia-Lopez & M. Marttunen (Eds.), Social anxiety and phobia in adolescents: Development, manifestation and intervention strategies (pp. 11–37). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar