What parents don't know and how it may affect their children

Tom Frijns, Loes Keijsers, Susan J T Branje, Wim H J Meeus

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137 Citations (Scopus)


Recent research has identified adolescent disclosure to parents as a powerful predictor of adolescent adjustment. We propose, however, that the common operationalization of adolescent disclosure incorporates the two separate constructs of disclosure and secrecy, and predicted that the disclosure-adjustment link can largely be explained by the unique contribution of secrecy from parents. A four-wave survey study among 309 adolescents tested these predictions. Factor analyses confirmed that disclosure and secrecy should be distinguished as two separate constructs. Moreover, in cross-lagged path analyses, only secrecy was a longitudinal predictor of adolescent internalizing (i.e., depression) and externalizing (i.e., delinquency) problems, disclosure was not. Secrecy consistently contributed to the longitudinal prediction of delinquency from early to middle adolescence, whereas it contributed to the prediction of depression only in early adolescence. Findings thus attest the importance of distinguishing between disclosure and secrecy and suggest that the disclosure-adjustment link may actually reflect a secrecy-maladjustment link.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)261-270
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adolescence
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2009 The Association for Professionals in Services for Adolescents. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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