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Child Dev. 1994 Aug;65(4):1147-62.

Adolescents' and parents' conceptions of parental authority and personal autonomy.

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Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, University of Rochester, NY 14627.


Conceptions of parental authority and ratings of adolescent-parent conflict were assessed in 68 sixth, eighth, and tenth graders and their parents. Boundaries of adolescent personal jurisdiction and conflict over these boundaries were examined. Participants judged the legitimacy of parental authority and rated the frequency and intensity of conflict regarding 24 hypothetical moral, conventional, personal, multifaceted (e.g., containing conventional and personal components), prudential, and friendship issues. Adolescents and parents agreed that parents should retain authority regarding moral and conventional issues. Parents treated multifaceted, friendship, prudential, and personal issues as more contingent on parental authority than did adolescents, based on conventional, prudential, and psychological reasons, whereas adolescents treated these issues as under personal jurisdiction, based on personal concerns. Personal reasoning and judgments increased with age. Multifaceted issues were discussed more than all other issues, but moral and conventional conflicts were more intense than all other conflicts. The findings are discussed in terms of previous research on parental authority and adolescent-parent conflict during adolescence.

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