Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 495–508 | Cite as

Exploring Adolescents’ Relationships with Non-Parental Adults Using the Non-Parental Adult Inventory (N.P.A.I.)

  • Carrie W. RishelEmail author
  • Lesley Cottrell
  • Scott Cottrell
  • Bonita Stanton
  • Catherine Gibson
  • Katherine Bougher


Adolescents’ relationships with non-parental adults is one identified protective factor that has received comparable little attention. Previous work indicates that significant, non-parental adults play an important role in adolescent development. This exploratory study examines the frequency of adolescent contact with non-parental adults, and their enjoyment of that contact using the Non-Parental Adult Inventory (N.P.A.I.). Gender and age differences among adolescent reports, and differences between parent and adolescent reports are explored. Frequency and reported enjoyment of adolescent contact within select categories of non-parental adults differed by gender. Parent and adolescent reports significantly differed with parents both underestimating and overestimating the strength of adolescents’ relationships with select adult groups. Results provide preliminary data regarding the nature of adolescents’ relationships with a broad range of non-parental adults.


Adolescents Non-parental adults Protective factors 



This research was supported by the Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Public Health Service-5APRPA006003-02-00.


  1. Beam, M. B., Chen, C., & Greenberger, E. (2002). The nature of adolescents’ relationships with their “very important” nonparental adults. American Journal of Community Psychology, 30(2), 305–325.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blyth, D. A., Hill, J. P., & Thiel, K. S. (1982). Early adolescents’ significant others: Grade and gender differences in perceived relationships with familial and nonfamilial adults and young people. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 11(6), 425–450.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bogenschneider, K. (1996). An ecological risk/protective theory for building prevention programs, policies, and community capacity to support youth. Family Relations, 45(2), 127–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chen, C., Greenberger, E., Farruggia, S., Bush, K., & Dong, Q. (2003). Beyond parents and peers: The role of important non-parental adults (VIPS) in adolescent development in China and the United States. Psychology in the Schools, 40, 35–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Durlak, J. A. (1998). Common risk and protective factors in successful prevention programs. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 68(4), 512–520.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Galbo, J. J., & Demetrulias, D. M. (1996). Recollections of nonparental significant adults during childhood and adolescence. Youth and Society, 27(4), 403–420.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Garbarino, J., Burston, N., Raber, S., Russell, R., & Crouter, A. (1978). The social maps of children approaching adolescence: Studying the ecology of youth development. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 7(4), 417–428.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Garmezy, N. (1985). Stress resilient children: The search for protective factors. In: J. E. Stevenson (Ed.), Recent research in developmental psychology: Journal of child psychology and psychiatry book (pp. 213–233) Oxford, UK: Pergamon.Google Scholar
  9. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a Different voice: Psychological theory and women’s development. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  10. Greenberger, E., Chen, C., & Beam, M. R. (1998). The role of “very important” nonparental adults in adolescent development. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 27(3), 321–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hendry, L. B., Roberts, W., Glendinning, A., & Coleman, J. C. (1992). Adolescents’ perceptions of significant individuals in their lives. Journal of Adolescence, 15, 255–270.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Howard, S., Dryden, J., & Johnson, B. (1999). Childhood resilience: Review and critique of literature. Oxford Review of Education, 25(3), 307–323.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jessor, R., Van Den Bos, J., Vanderryn, J., Costa, F. M., & Turbin, M. S. (1995). Protective factors in adolescent problem behavior: Moderator effects and developmental change. Developmental Psychology, 31, 923–933.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Munsch, J., & Blyth, D. A. (1993). An analysis of the functional nature of adolescents’ supportive relationships. Journal of Early Adolescence, 13(2), 132–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Rishel, C. W., Sales, E., & Koeske, G. F. (2005). Relationships with non-parental adults and child behavior. Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, 22, 19–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Smith, C., & Carlson, B. E. (1997). Stress, coping, and resilience in children and youth. Social Service Review, 72, 231–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Werner, E. E. (1992). The children of Kauai: Resiliency and recovery in adolescence and adulthood. Journal of Adolescent Health, 13, 262–268.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Werner, E. E. (1995). Resilience in development. Current Directions in psychological Science, 4(3), 81–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Wolkow, K. E., & Ferguson, H. B. (2001). Community factors in the development of resiliency: Considerations and future directions. Community Mental Health Journal, 37(6), 489–498.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Zimmerman, M. A., & Bingenheimer, J. B. (2002). Natural mentors and adolescent resiliency: A study with urban youth. American Journal of Community Psychology, 30(2), 221–243.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carrie W. Rishel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lesley Cottrell
    • 2
  • Scott Cottrell
    • 3
  • Bonita Stanton
    • 4
  • Catherine Gibson
    • 2
  • Katherine Bougher
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Social WorkWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  3. 3.Department of Community MedicineWest Virginia UniversityMorgantownUSA
  4. 4.Carman and Ann Adams Children’s Hospital and Department of PediatricsWayne State UniversityDetroitUSA

Personalised recommendations