Adolescence is the transitional period that individuals go through between their childhood and when they become adults and can be characterised by important physical, psychological and social changes.

Adolescence has always been considered a conflictive stage of life (1) and it is undeniable that in adolescence there are conflicts produced by the changes mentioned above. However, even though one of the most troubling characteristics of adolescence has to do with family conflict, relationships between parents and adolescence are far from the battlefield shown in the media.

(1)The following quote is attributed to Socrates around the year 469-299 BCE: “The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company…”

So, in spite of the rise in conflict that usually goes along with adolescence, the majority of families overcome the initial complicated moments of puberty and primary youth and are able to form a new family balance that is beneficial for both parents and children.

But, why do most conflicts occur in this phase of life?

Some influential factors include:

So, even though adolescent changes are the most relevant in families, the parents are also subject to change which commonly coincides with puberty when the parents reach the ages of 40-50. This period, which many authors have called a mid-life crisis, has been considered a difficult time which leads to meaningful changes for many adults and may involve an added strain on the relationships between parents and children during adolescence.

Conflicts during adolescence are not bad. According to longitudinal studies —studies that collect data about the same group of subjects at different times throughout their lives— which done in groups of 100 adolescents from 13 to 23, it has been confirmed that adolescents that stated they had more conflict with their parents at 13 were those that showed better psychological adjustment at the end of adolescence.

These studies indicate that conflicts between parents and children in adolescence are necessary for developing independence and for them to create their own identity and solid self-esteem.

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