Parent and peer social support compensation and internalizing problems in adolescence

Kelly M. Lyell, Samantha Coyle, Christine K. Malecki, Alecia M. Santuzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The general benefits of social support are well-documented; however, little is understood about the unique contributions of social support from specific sources, such as parents and peers. In addition, it is unknown whether social support from some sources might buffer against a lack of social support from another source for the outcome of internalizing problems. The current study investigated two research questions: (a) What is the association between social support from mothers, fathers, classmates, and close friends and internalizing problems for adolescent boys and girls? and (b) Can social support from one source (e.g., mothers) buffer against internalizing problems when social support from another source (e.g., fathers) may be lacking? Do these associations vary by gender? These research questions were examined with a sample of 364 middle school students (61.3% female). Students completed a series of self-report questionnaires assessing social support and internalizing symptoms. Multiple group structural equation models indicated that social support provided general benefits from all sources for early adolescent boys and girls. Regarding stress-buffering with low support as a stressor, no evidence was found for compensation between mothers and fathers. Mother support compensated for low classmate support for both boys and girls and father support compensated for low classmate support for boys. Classmate support compensated for low close friend support for boys. Implications in the context of the school environment for both boys and girls are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-49
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of School Psychology
Volume83
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Keywords

  • Internalizing problems
  • School mental health
  • Social support

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