How does the role of one's peers of the adolescent age group differ from the role of one's family for adolescent age-group people?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In general, peers become more important to a person than the person’s family during adolescence, at least in terms of emotional support.  During this time, one’s peers are the biggest source of emotional and social support while family is more of a source of conflict, but also a source of one’s core values and beliefs.

During adolescence, it is well-known that people tend to drift apart from their families.  When they are younger, their families are the main source of their emotional support.  As, however, they grow into adolescents, family becomes more of a source of conflict.  Adolescents want to make more of their own choices and have more freedom and their families come to be obstacles to these desires.  That is not to say, however, that adolescents break completely from their families.  Instead, families continue to help form the foundation on which the adolescent’s life is based.  Families provide core values and a basic level of support that is always available.

However, peers tend to become more important on a day-to-day basis.  Adolescents tend to turn to their peers, rather than to their parents, for support when things go wrong at school.  They rely on their peers to give them the feeling that they are accepted and are worthwhile people.  For these reasons, they tend to spend more time with peers than with family as they go through adolescence.

Thus, we can say that peers are generally a more important factor in adolescents’ day-to-day lives, but that families still form much of the foundation of adolescents’ lives overall.

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