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Parental Solicitation and Adolescents’ Information Management: The Moderating Role of Autonomy-Supportive Parenting

Abstract

Objectives

Parents’ knowledge of children’s activities, friends and whereabouts is widely recognized as a promotive factor for adolescents’ psychosocial adjustment. As previous research showed, this knowledge mainly depends on adolescents’ willingness to disclose information about their daily lives. Parents can actively encourage adolescents’ disclosure by initiating conversations. However, such parental solicitation for information may be perceived as intrusive, and ironically lead to more concealment. In the present study, we examined whether and under which conditions parental solicitation for information is related to adolescents’ information management, thereby examining whether adolescents’ perceptions of an autonomy-supportive (vs. controlling) parenting context moderated these associations.

Methods

351 Swiss adolescents (45.6% girls; mean age = 15.01 years) completed self-report questionnaires about their mother and their father separately.

Results

Generally, parental solicitation for information was statistically significantly associated with greater disclosure. Further, perceived autonomy-supportive (vs. controlling) parenting altered some of the links between solicitation for information and adolescents’ information management strategies. Specifically, for both mothers and fathers, parental solicitation for information was respectively associated with more lies at low levels of autonomy support, and with fewer lies at high levels of autonomy support. We also found, for fathers only, that parental solicitation for information was associated with less secrecy at low levels of autonomy support.

Conclusions

These findings underscore that the general parenting context in which parents solicit for information has implications for adolescents’ information management.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank the adolescents and their parents who kindly accepted to participate in the study. We are also grateful to the principals and deans of the schools, and the Direction de l’Enseignement Obligatoire (DGEO) of the Canton de Vaud in Switzerland. We thank Nadia Barmaverain for assistance with data collection and input.

Author Contributions

S.B. conceived of the study, analyzed and interpreted the data, and wrote the manuscript. S.V.P. offered insights into parenting, and helped with the interpretation of the data and the writing of the manuscript. J.P.A. supervised and assisted with the data analyses, and helped with the interpretation of the data and the writing of the manuscript. G.Z. supervised the project and helped with the interpretation of the results, and the writing of the manuscript. All authors have read, edited and approved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sophie Baudat.

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The study was conducted in compliance with the Ethics Code of the Swiss Psychological Society (SPS).

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Baudat, S., Van Petegem, S., Antonietti, JP. et al. Parental Solicitation and Adolescents’ Information Management: The Moderating Role of Autonomy-Supportive Parenting. J Child Fam Stud 29, 426–441 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01687-z

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Keywords

  • Parental solicitation
  • Autonomy support
  • Disclosure
  • Secrecy
  • Lies