Influence of Parent-Adolescent Communication on Adolescent Peer Relations and Gender Implications


  • Margaret A. Disiye



Father-adolescent communication, gender, mother-adolescent communication, peer relations.


This study was conceptualized against a backdrop of Kenya’s a troubled secondary school system; characterized by incidences of students’ unrests, drug abuse, examination cheating, school dropouts and other forms of indiscipline. Although literature points to the role of parent-adolescent relations in development of behavioural problems in adolescent period, the government of Kenya has not linked the problem situation in schools to parent-adolescent relations. This study therefore compared the influence of father- and mother-adolescent communication on peer relations of secondary school students. It also investigated the influence of gender on parent-adolescent communication. The research population comprised of Form 2 and 3 students from Eldoret Municipality, Kenya. It used correlational and causal comparative research designs. Stratified and random sampling techniques were used to select ten schools and 462 students. Questionnaires were used in data collection. The reliability and validity of the research instruments was established through pre-testing. The study found strong positive correlations between both mother- and father-adolescent communication and adolescent peer relations, thus indicating that mother-adolescent communication had a greater influence on adolescent peer relations than father-adolescent communication. Gender also had a significant influence on father-adolescent communication, indicating that male students had a more open communications with their fathers than female students. However, gender had no influence on mother-adolescent communication. The findings may help enhance knowledge of parent-adolescent communication and may also be useful to stakeholders in education in developing communication skills training programmes to promote social competence in adolescents.


Ackard, D. M., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., & Perry, C. (2006). Parent-child connectedness and behavioural and emotional health among adolescents. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 30, 59-66.

Barnes, H. L., & Olson, D. H. (1985). Parent-adolescent communication and the circumplex model. Child Development, 56,437-453.

Barnes, H. L., & Olson, D. H. (1995).Parent-adolescent communication. In Olson, D. H., McCubbin, H. I., Barnes, H. L., Larsen, A., Muxen, M. &Wilson, M. (Eds.).Family inventories, 3rded. St. Paul: University of Minnesota.

Berg-Nielsen, T. S., Vika, A., & Dahl, A.A. (2003). When adolescents disagree with their mothers: maternal depression and adolescent self-concept. Child Care Health Development, 29, 207-213.

Bijra, J. O., Bosma, H. A., & Jackson, A.E. (1994). The relationship between social skills and psychosocial functioning in early adolescence. Personality and Individual Differences, 16,767-776.

Choo, O. A. (2000). Parenting behaviours and adolescents psychosocial adjustment. Retrieved from

Cooper, C. R., & Cooper, R. G. (1992). Links between adolescents’ relationships with their parents and their peers: Models, evidence, and mechanisms. In R. D. Parke & G. W. Ladd (eds.), Family-peer relationships: Modes of linkage (pp. 135-158) Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Dekovic, M., & Meeus, W. (1997). Peer relations in adolescence: Effects of parenting and adolescents’ self-concept. Journal of Adolescence, 20, 163-176.

Demaray, M. P., & Malecki, C. K. (2002). The relationship between perceived social support and maladjustment for students at risk. Psychology in Schools, 39, 305-316.

Disiye, M. A. (2007). Influence of peer counseling on social adjustment and academic performance of secondary school students in Eldoret Municipality. Unpublished M. Phil. thesis, Moi University, Kenya.

Estévez, E., Musitu, G., & Herero, J., (2005a). The influence of violent behaviour and victimization at school on psychological distress: the role of parents and teachers. Adolescence, 40, 183-195.

Estévez, E., Musitu, G., & Herero, J., (2005b). Elrol de la communication familiar y delajuste escolar en salud mental del adolescente. SaludMental, 28, 81-89.

Fadhili, W. (2005, September 23rd). Indiscipline in schools. Who is to blame? Daily Nation, p.6, Col.2-3. Nairobi: Nation Media Group.

Fogel, A. (1993). Developing through relationships. Origins of communication, self, and culture. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Whjeatsheaf.

Gibson, D. M., & Jefferson, R. N. (2006). The effect of perceived parental involvement and the use of growth-fostering relationships on self-concept in adolescents participating in gear up. Adolescence, 41, 111-125.

Guilamo-Ramos, V., Jaccard, J., Dittus, P., Bouris, A., Holloway, I., &Casillas, E. (2007).Adolescent expectancies, parent-adolescent communication and intentions to have sexual intercourse among inner-city, middle school youth. Annual Behavioural Medicine, 34(1), 56-66.

Harris, C. A. & Zakowski, S. G. (2003). Comparisons of distress in adolescents in cancer patients and controls. Psycho-oncology, 12,173-182.

Houck, C. D., Rodrigue, J. R., & Lobato, D. (2006). Parent adolescent communication and psychological symptoms among adolescents with chronically ill parents. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 32 (5), 596-604.

Huff, C., Widmer, M., & McCoy, K. (2003).The influence of challenging outdoor recreation on parent-adolescent communication. Retrieved from

Isley, S., O’Neil, R., & Parke, R. D. (1996). The relation between parental effect and control behaviours to children’s classroom acceptance. A concurrent and predictive analysis. Early Education and Development, 7, 7-23.

Jackson, S., Bijstra, J., Oostra, L., & Bosma, H. (1998). Adolescents’ perceptions of communication with parents relative to specific aspects of relationships with parents and personal development. Journal of Adolescence, 21, 305-322.

Kibet, P. (2008). Result analysis. Eldoret East District price giving day. Eldoret: Latasha Printers.

Kipchumba, S. (2009).The 2008 KCSE results. It’s a big challenge maintaining high level of discipline due to urban influence in Uasin Gishu. Daily Nation, p.5. Col. 1. Nairobi: Nation Media Group.

Koerner, A. F. & Fitzpatrick, M. A. (2002). Toward a theory of family communication. Retrieved from

Lambart, S. F., & Cashwell, C. S. (2003). Preteens talking to parents: Perceived communication and school-based aggression. The Family Journal: Counselling and Therapy for Couples and Families, 11, 1-7.

Kigotho, W. (2009). School strikes: An art of blaming victims. Teacher’s image, 16, 10 -11.

Lopez, B., Turner, R. J. & Saavedra, L. M. (2004). Anxiety and risk for substance dependence among late adolescents/young adults. Anxiety disorders, 19, 175-294.

Lucheli, S. (2009, May 21st). 128 students win case against KNEC. The Standard, p. 10, Col 1-3. Nairobi: The Standard Ltd.

Luk, J. W., Farhal, T., Iannotti, R. J., & Simmons-Morton, B. C. (2009).Parent-child communication and substance use among adolescents: Do father and mother communication play a different role for sons and daughters? Retrieved from

Marta, E. (1997). Parent-adolescent interactions and psychosocial risk in adolescents: An analysis of communication, support and gender. Journal of Adolescence, 20, 473-487.

Melgosa, J. (2008). Developing a healthy mind. (3rded.). Washington: Editorial Safeliz.

Mendozal, R., Triana, B. & Rubio, A (2006).The easiness of parent-child communication in adolescence: gender differences and time trends observed in Spain. Anuario De Psicologia, 37(3), 225-246.

Musitu, G. (2005). Role of family communication and school contexts on adolescents’ mental health. Retrieved from http://www.alcoholinformate.orgmix/familia.cfm?arliculo=131

Noller, P. (1995). Parent-adolescent relationships. In M. A. Fitzpatric and A. L. Vangelisti (Eds).In explaining family interactions (pp.77-111).London: Sage Publications.

Noller, P., & Callan, V. J. (1991).The adolescent in the family. London: Routledge.

Parke, R. D., & Buriel, R. (1998). Socialization in the family: Ethnic and ecological perspectives. In W. Damon & N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology. Vol. 3: Social, Emotional and personality development (5th ed. pp.463-552). New York: Wiley.

Pedersen, S., & Revensen, T. A. (2005).Parental illness, family functioning, and adolescent wellbeing: A family ecology framework to guide research. Journal of Family Psychology, 19, 404-409.

Republic of Kenya (2010). Education for sustainable development: Implementation strategy. Nairobi: Senabora Design House.

Rosenblatt, P. C. (1994). Metaphors of family systems theory: Towards new constructions. New York: The Guildford Press.

Ruble, D. N., & Martin, C. L. (1998). Gender development. In W. Damon & N. Eisenberg (Eds.), Handbook of child psychology. Vol. 3: Social, emotional and personality development (5th ed., pp.933-1016).New York: Wiley.

Schualtz, P. D., & Schualtz, S. E. (2001). Theories of personality.(7thed.). London: Wadsworth/Thompson Learning.

Shek, D. T. L. (2000). Differences between fathers and mothers in the treatment of, and relationship with their teenage children: Perceptions of Chinese adolescents. Adolescence, 35(137), 135-147.

Shek, D. T. L. (1999). Parenting characteristics and adolescent well-being.: a longitudinal study in a Chinese context. Retrieved from

Steinberg, S. (1987). Recent research on the family at adolescent: the extent and nature of sex differences. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 16, 191-197.

Updegraff, K. A., Madden-Derdich, D. A., Estrada, A. U., Sales, R. J., & Leonard, S. A. (2002).Young adolescents’ experiences with parents and friends: Exploring the connections. Family Relations, 51, 72-80.

Van-Pelt, N. (1984).Train up a child. A guide to successful parenting. Ontario: Pacific Press Publishing Association.

Veneziano, R. A. (2000). Perceived paternal and maternal acceptance and rural African and European American youths’ psychological adjustment. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 62, 123-132.

Wangai Report, (2001). The task force report on discipline and unrest in secondary schools. Nairobi: Government Press.

Wasanga, P. M. (2007 Dec.). Tough measures: Exam cheats put on notice. Elimu News, p. 12, Col. 1-6. Nairobi: Government Press.

Wilkinson, R. B. (2004). The role of parental and peer attachment in the psychological health and self-esteem of adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 33, 479-493.

Xia, Y., Xie, X., Zhou, Z., Defrain, J., Meredith, H., & Combs, R. (2004).Chinese adolescents’ decision-making, parent-adolescent communication and relationships. Retrieved from