Adolescent resilience: The influence of family relationships and their impact on resilient outcomes

Katie Holmes, Fordham University


Understanding the influences on, and outcomes of, adolescent resilience is essential to the practice of social work with children and families. Resilience is described as an internal characteristic, which is influenced by external factors, and aids in modifying the effects of adversity. Family-systems and resilience theories are used to describe the impact of family relationships and individual resiliency characteristics on adolescent development. This research examines parental favoritism and the quality of both sibling and parent-child relationships, with respect to their impact on adolescent resilience and the combined impact of these variables on adolescent outcomes. The findings illustrate how resilience mediates the effects of these family factors on the individual outcomes of depressive symptomology, delinquency, and positive peer relationships. A nonprobability sample of 124 students, ranging from 11 to 14 years of age and attending a suburban middle school on Long Island within the state of New York was surveyed. The study questionnaires included four scales to assess family and peer relationships, affect, negative behavior, and resilience levels of participating adolescents. Path analysis was applied to test the theoretical model through conducting a series of linear regressions. The quality of both sibling and parent-child relationships explained a significant amount of change noted in the resilience levels for this sample of adolescents. Resilience mediated the relationship between the family dynamics (i.e. parental favoritism, and the quality of sibling, and parent-child relationships) and the outcomes of depressive symptomology, and positive peer relationships. According to participant reports depressive symptoms was directly related to parental favoritism. The results of this study indicate that adolescent interpretations of family relationships can significantly affect resilience to the extent of observable outcomes of affect, behaviors and social interaction. Implications for the practice of social work include the call for professionals within this field to draw attention to and nurture family dynamics when working with adolescents on resilience enhancement. The findings of this research also suggest that incorporating a resilience framework into clinical practice may facilitate a decrease in depressive symptoms for this population of youth while concurrently increasing the number and positive nature of peer relationships in their lives.

Subject Area

Social work|Developmental psychology|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Holmes, Katie, "Adolescent resilience: The influence of family relationships and their impact on resilient outcomes" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3223401.