A new study published in the Journal of Family Psychology says parents are among the reasons childhood friendships end.

The study, which was carried out by researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, examined 1,523 children.

Researchers say they assessed three commonly recognised parenting styles: behavioural control such as curfews and monitoring; psychological control such as shaming and guilt; and warmth and affection.

They also assessed parental depression to separate the influence of parenting styles from parent mental health difficulties.

Lastly, they assessed how well children get along with their peers to separate the effects of parenting from difficulties that children have getting along with other children.

WHAT THE STUDY SHOWED

Study results show that parenting features like psychological control increase the risk that best friendships would end.

There is a 104 percent risk of best friendship dissolution for children with clinically depressed parents and a similar one for children with psychologically-controlling parents.

“Depressed and psychologically controlling parents create an affective climate that is detrimental to a child’s well-being, with problems that spill over into the peer social world. Best friendships are one causality of this affective spillover,” said Brett Laursen, co-author of the study.

“We believe that children with depressed and psychologically controlling parents are not learning healthy strategies for engaging with other people, which could have long-term consequences for their future relationships.”

Contrary to the researchers’ expectations, there was no evidence that positive parenting behaviours like warmth and affection increased the longevity of friendships.

“We were hoping that positive behaviors would help extend the life of friendships and that it would be a buffer or a protective factor,” said Laursen

“This wasn’t the case — warmth and affection don’t appear to make that much of a difference. It’s the negative characteristics of parents that are key in determining if and when these childhood friendships end.”



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