How do Adolescents Benefit from Family Rituals? Links to Social Connectedness, Depression and Anxiety

Abstract

Adolescence is a sensitive period for the development of depressive-anxious symptomatology. The practice of family rituals and perceived social connectedness have been indicated as protective factors for adolescents´ adjustment, however the existing empirical research is still scarce. The present research examined the relationships among family ritual meaning, social connectedness, anxiety and depression among Portuguese students. A total of 248 students (52.8 % female) aged between 15 and 20 years old (M = 16.27, SD = 1.22) participated in this study. The participants completed self-report measures (Family Ritual Questionnaire, Social Connectedness Scale—Revised, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale). Results showed that family ritual meaning was positively related to social connectedness and negatively related to depression. Social connectedness was negatively associated with anxiety and depression. Gender was only associated with anxiety, and age wasn’t significantly correlated with any of the variables. Mediation analysis demonstrated that family ritual meaning was negatively linked to both depression (indirect effect = −.07; CI = −.13/−.02) and anxiety symptoms (indirect effect = −.06; CI = −.11/−.01) via social connectedness. These results clarified one of the possible paths through which family ritual meaning influences depressive-anxious symptomatology in adolescence. Taking into account the protective role of family ritual meaning and social connectedness, future interventions can be designed in order to reduce and prevent anxiety and depression in this particular developmental stage. Contributions and limitations of this study are presented along with suggestions for further investigation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Anderman, E. M. (2002). School effects on psychological outcomes during adolescence. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 795–809. doi:10.1037//0022-0663.94.4.795.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Armstrong, S., & Oomen-Early, J. (2009). Social connectedness, self-esteem, and depression symtomatology among collegiate athletes versus nonathletes. Journal of American College Health, 57, 521–526. doi:10.3200/JACH.57.5.521-526.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Barber, B. K., & Olsen, J. A. (1997). Socialization in context: Connection, regulation, and autonomy in the family, school, and neighborhood, and with peers. Journal of Adolescent Research, 12, 287–315. doi:10.1177/0743554897122008.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Barber, B. K., & Schluterman, J. M. (2008). Connectedness in the lives of children and adolescents: A call for greater conceptual clarity. Journal of Adolescent Health, 43, 209–216. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2008.01.012.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Barlow, D. H. (2000). Unraveling the mysteries of anxiety and its disorders from the perspective of emotion theory. American Psychologist, 55, 1247–1263. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.55.11.1247.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Beautraise, A. L. (2000). Risk factors for suicide among young people. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 34, 420–436. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1614.2000.00691.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bosacki, S., Dane, A., & Marini, Z. (2007). Peer relationships and internalizing problems in adolescents: Mediating role of self-esteem. Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 12, 261–282. doi:10.1080/13632750701664293.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Brown, B. B. (2004). Adolescents’ relationships with peers. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (2nd ed., pp. 331–361). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Carlson, G. A., & Grant, K. E. (2008). The roles of stress and coping in explaining gender differences in risk for psychopathology among African American urban adolescents. The Journal of Early Adolescence, 28, 375–404. doi:10.1177/0272431608314663.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Cavanagh, S. E. (2008). Family structure history and adolescent adjustment. Journal of Family Issues, 29, 944–980. doi:10.1177/0192513X07311232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Collins, W. A., & Laursen, B. (2004). Parent-adolescent relationships and influences. In R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg (Eds.), Handbook of adolescent psychology (2nd ed., pp. 331–361). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Compañ, E., Moreno, J., Ruiz, M. T., & Pascual, E. (2002). Doing things together: Adolescent health and family rituals. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 56, 89–94. doi:10.1136/jech.56.2.89.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Costello, E. J., Pine, D. S., Hammen, C., March, J. S., Plotsky, P. M., Weissman, M. M., & Leckman, J. F. (2002). Development and natural history of mood disorders. Biological Psychiatry, 52, 529–542. doi:10.1016/S0006-3223(02)01372-0.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Crespo, C. (2012). Families as contexts for attachment: Reflections on theory, research, and the role of family rituals. Journal of Family Theory and Review, 4, 290–298. doi:10.1111/j.1756-25892012.00136.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Crespo, C., Davide, I. N., Costa, M. E., & Fletcher, G. J. (2008). Family rituals in married couples: Links with attachment, relationship quality, and closeness. Personal Relationships, 15, 191–203. doi:10.1111/j.1475-6811.2008.00193.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Crespo, C., Kielpikowski, M. M., Jose, P. E., & Pryor, J. E. (2011). Family rituals in New Zealand families: Links to family cohesion and adolescents’ well-being. Journal of Family Psychology, 25, 184–193. doi:10.1037/a0023113.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Eaker, D. G., & Walters, L. H. (2002). Adolescent satisfaction in family rituals and psychosocial development: A developmental systems theory perspective. Journal of Family Psychology, 16, 406–414. doi:10.1037//0893-3200.16.4.406.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Fiese, B. H. (1992). Dimensions of family rituals across two generations: Relation to adolescent identity. Family Process, 31, 151–162. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.1992.00151.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Fiese, B. H. (1993). Dimensions of family rituals in alcoholic and nonalcoholic households: Relation to adolescent health symptomatology and problem drinking. Family Relations, 42, 187–192. doi:10.2307/585453.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Fiese, B. H. (2006a). Family routines and rituals. New Haven: Yale University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Fiese, B. H. (2006b). Who took my hot sauce? Regulating emotion in the context of family routines and rituals. In D. K. Snyder, J. A. Simpson, & J. N. Hughes (Eds.), Emotion regulation in families (pp. 269–290). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Fiese, B. H., & Kline, C. A. (1993). Development of the family ritual questionnaire: Initial reliability and validation studies. Journal of Family Psychology, 6, 1–10. doi:10.1037/0893-3200.6.3.290.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Fiese, B. H., Tomcho, T. J., Douglas, M., Josephs, K., Poltrock, S., & Baker, T. (2002). A review of 50 years of research on naturally occurring family routines and rituals: Cause for celebration? Journal of Family Psychology, 16, 381–390. doi:10.1037//0893-3200.16.4.381.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Fulkerson, J. A., Story, M., Mellin, A., Leffert, N., Neumark-Sztainer, D., & French, S. A. (2006). Family dinner meal frequency and adolescent development: Relationships with developmental assets and high-risk behaviors. Journal of Adolescent Health, 39, 337–345. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2005.12.026.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Ge, X., Lorenz, F. O., Conger, R. D., Elder, G. H., & Simons, R. L. (1994). Trajectories of stressful life events and depressive symptoms during adolescence. Developmental Psychology, 30, 467–483. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.30.4.467.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Hankin, B., & Abramson, L. (2001). Development of gender differences in depression: an elaborated cognitive vulnerability-transactional stress theory. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 773–796. doi:10.1037//0033-2909.127.6.773.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Hankin, B. L., Abramson, L. Y., Moffitt, T. E., Silva, P. A., McGee, R., & Angell, K. E. (1998). Development of depression from preadolescence to young adulthood: Emerging gender differences in a 10-year longitu-dinal study. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 107, 128–140. doi:10.1037/0021-843X.107.1.128.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  30. Hjemdal, O., Vogel, P. A., Solem, S., Hagen, K., & Stiles, T. C. (2011). The relationship between resilience and levels of anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms in adolescents. Clinical psychology and psychotherapy, 18, 314–321. doi:10.1002/cpp.719.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Jose, P. E., & Crespo, C. (2012). Social connectedness in adolescence. In R. J. Levesque (Ed.), Encyclopedia of adolescence (pp. 2758–2768). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  32. La Greca, A. M., & Harrison, H. M. (2005). Adolescent peer relations, friendships, and romantic relationships: Do they predict social anxiety and depression? Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 34, 49–61. doi:10.1207/s15374424jccp3401_5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Lee, R. M., Draper, M., & Lee, S. (2001). Social connectedness, dysfunctional interpersonal behaviors, and psychological distress: Testing a mediator model. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 48, 310–318. doi:10.1037//0022-0167.48.3.310.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Lee, R. M., & Robbins, S. B. (1995). Measuring belongingness: The social connectedness and the social assurance scales. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 42, 232–241. doi:10.1037/0022-0167.42.2.232.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Lee, R. M., & Robbins, S. B. (1998). The relationship between social connectedness and anxiety, self-esteem, and social identity. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 45, 338–345. doi:10.1037//0022-0167.45.3.338.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Lee, R. M., & Robbins, S. B. (2000). Understanding social connectedness in college women and men. Journal of Counseling and Development, 78, 484–491. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.2000.tb01932.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. López, M. V., Ivonne, N., Arratia, G., Fuentes, L., Palos, P. A., & Oudhof, H. (2012). Depresión en adolescentes: El papel de los sucesos vitales estressantes. Salud Mental, 35, 37–43.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Markson, S., & Fiese, B. H. (2000). Family rituals as a protective factor for children with asthma. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 25, 471–480. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/25.7.471.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  39. Mead, M. (1973). Ritual and social crisis. In J. Shaugnessy (Ed.), The roots of ritual (pp. 87–101). Grand Rapids: William Eerdmans Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Pais-Ribeiro, J. L., Silva, I., Ferreira, T., Martins, A., Meneses, R., & Baltar, M. (2006). Validation study of a Portuguese version of the hospital anxiety and depression scale psychology. Health and Medicine, 12, 1–13. doi:10.1080/13548500500524088.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F. (2008). Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 879–891. doi:10.3758/BRM.40.3.879.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Roberts, J. (1988). Ritual themes in families and family therapy. In E. Imber-Black, J. Roberts, & R. Whiting (Eds.), Rituals in families and family therapy (pp. 3–46). New York: Norton.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Santos, S., Crespo, C., Silva, N., & Canavarro, M. C. (2012). Quality of life and adjustment in youths with asthma: The contributions of family rituals and the family environment. Family Process, 51, 557–569. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.2012.01416.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  44. Seroczynski, A., Jacquez, F., & Cole, D. (2003). Depression and suicide during adolescence. In G. Adams & M. Berzonsky (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of adolescence (pp. 550–573). Malden: Blackwell.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Simões, M. R. (1994). Investigações no âmbito da aferição nacional do teste das Matrizes Progressivas Coloridas de Raven (Research on the national standardization of the Raven’s Coloured Progressive Matrices). PhD Dissertation, Faculdade de Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação, Universidade de Coimbra.

  46. Smojver-Azić, S., & Bezinović, P. (2011). Sex differences in patterns of relations between family interactions and depressive symptoms in adolescents. Croatian medical journal, 52, 469–477. doi:10.3325/cmj.2011.52.469.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  47. Snaith, R. P. (2003). The hospital anxiety and depression scale. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 1, 29–32. doi:10.1186/1477-7525-1-29.

    Article  PubMed Central  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  48. Snaith, R. P., & Zigmond, A. P. (1994). The hospital anxiety and depression scale manual. Windsor: NFER-Nelson.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Spagnola, M., & Fiese, B. H. (2007). Family routines and rituals: A context for development in the lives of young children. Infants and Young Children, 20, 284–299. doi:10.1097/01.IYC.0000290352.32170.5a.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2001). Adolescent development. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 83–110. doi:10.1146/annurev.psych.52.1.83.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  51. Venta, A., Sharp, C., & Hart, J. (2012). The relation between anxiety disorder and experiential avoidance in inpatient adolescents. Psychological Assessment, 24, 240–248. doi:10.1037/a0025362.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  52. Williams, K. L., & Galliher, R. V. (2006). Predicting depression and self-esteem from social connectedness, support, and competence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 25, 855–874. doi:10.1521/jscp.2006.25.8.855.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Wollin, S. J., & Bennet, L. A. (1984). Family rituals. Family Process, 23, 401–420. doi:10.1111/j.1545-5300.1984.00401.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Zolog, T. C., Jané-Ballabriga, M. C., Bonillo-Martin, A., Canals-Sans, J., Hernandez-Martinez, C., Romero-Acosta, K., & Domenech-Llaberia, E. (2011). Age, gender and negative life events in anxiety and depression self-reports at preadolescence and early adolescence. Ansiedad y Estrés, 17(2–3), 113–124.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank all the adolescents and heads of schools who participated in the study.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sara Malaquias.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Malaquias, S., Crespo, C. & Francisco, R. How do Adolescents Benefit from Family Rituals? Links to Social Connectedness, Depression and Anxiety. J Child Fam Stud 24, 3009–3017 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-014-0104-4

Download citation

Keywords

  • Family rituals
  • Social connectedness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Adolescence