How the Quality of Parental Attachment, Parental Control and Monitoring Influences Adolescent Secrecy

Fu, Anna
Wang, Ying
Wood, Jay
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Master of Arts
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Auckland University of Technology

The importance of adolescent disclosure and adolescent secrecy has been extensively demonstrated in existing literature (Jäggi et al., 2016; Solís et al., 2015; Frijns et al., 2010; Keijsers et al., 2009; Kerr & Stattin, 2000). Majority of research (Solís et al., 2015; Laird et al., 2013; Keijser et al., 2010) has mostly focused on exploring Adolescent disclosure and its relevance to the strictness of parental control and parental monitoring. Previous research has found that overall greater disclosure and less secret-keeping between parent and child are associated with greater psychosocial adjustment and better family relationships (Solís et al., 2015; Frijns & Finkenauer, 2009; Laird et al., 2013). Although researchers have significantly explored adolescent ‘disclosure’ and concluded that adolescent ‘secrecy’ is a separate, distinct construct (Finkenauer et al., 2002; Frijns et al., 2010), there has been very little research on adolescent ‘secrecy’ or ‘secret-keeping’. The present study addresses the three most influential predictors of adolescent development specifically, parental attachment, parental control, parental monitoring and their impact on adolescent secret-keeping. Adolescents’ living situations (living with parents or away from parents) were also explored in relevance to secret-keeping. Participants (N = 765, 57.6% male, 42.3% female) in the study were adolescents aged 16 to 19 years who completed an online questionnaire assessing their parent-child attachment, the strictness of parental control and parental monitoring, as well as how frequently they kept information hidden or private from their parents (secrets). Findings indicate that the quality of parental attachment predicts the frequency of adolescent secret-keeping. Particularly, adolescents who are more securely attached are more likely to keep secrets from their parents. Further, parental monitoring predicts adolescent secret-keeping, but parental control is unlikely to. Female adolescents who lived away from home were more likely to keep secrets from their parents. These findings demonstrate the significant role the parent and environment have in contributing to adolescents’ likelihood to keep secrets or divulge information.

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