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Parent’s influence on the Identity Development of Swedish Emerging Adults

Poster (konferens)
Författare Maria Wängqvist
Ann Frisén
Publicerad i Poster presented at the Society for Research on Adolescence biennial meeting, Vancouver, Canada, 8-10 March, 2012
Publiceringsår 2012
Publicerad vid Psykologiska institutionen
Språk en
Ämnesord identity formation, emerging adults, parents
Ämneskategorier Psykologi


In emerging adulthood the parent-child relationship undergoes major changes. Issues of separation, autonomy and independence are salient throughout adolescence, but it is usually first in emerging adulthood that independence from parents becomes an everyday reality (e.g., Arnett, 2006). In Sweden, financial independence from parents is highly valued and most young people, and their parents, emphasize that the choices they make for the future are their own. However, parents are still important and influential in the identity development of emerging adults. This study aims to investigate the influence of parents on emerging adults’ identity formation in the Swedish socio-cultural context. 136 emerging adults (24-26 years old) from a longitudinal study at the University of Gothenburg participated in this study. This recent phase of the longitudinal project included questions about their relationship with their parents, identity status interviews (Marcia et al. 1993), and a questionnaire about how well a person would get to know them in eight different contexts (van Hoof &Raaijmakers, 2003). A majority of the participants described the relationship to their parents as good or very good (94.1%for mothers and 83.6%for fathers).Most of the participants were in contact with their parents at least once a week (91.9% for mothers and 72.6%fathers). There were tendencies showing that it was less common for participants experiencing moratorium to describe their relationship with their mother as good and less common for them to have contact with their mother at least once a week. A minority of the participants had parents who were divorced (27.4%). There were however significant differences between the identity statuses regarding if their parents were divorced or not. It was more common for the groups with identity diffusion and moratorium to have parents who were divorced than it was for the groups with foreclosure and identity achievement. The parental home appeared to be an important identity context as the ratings, on a scale from 0-10 with 10 meaning “If you saw me in this context you would really get to know me” were high for this context (M = 7.9, SD = 2.1). Analyses of variance of the eight contexts revealed differences between identity statuses only for the parental home and politics. Post hoc tests revealed that for parental home it was the moratorium group that stood out with lower levels of this being an important context than achievement and foreclosure groups. In sum, these analyses indicate that in emerging adulthood, when most young people in Sweden have been experiencing independence from parents for some time, parents continue to be important. As they maintain close contact, tend to value the relationships with their parents, and view the parental home as a personally expressive context. Taken together the results from this study yield interesting hypothesis for future research: For example, do some emerging adults feel the need to retreat from the parents’ influences when exploring their identities (moratorium) or are more problematic relationships with parents associated with a prolonged moratorium?

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