Positivity Beyond Absence of Negativity: Social Competence Mediates the Association Between Positive Parenting and Adolescent Friendship Quality

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University of Alabama Libraries

Parenting is important for adolescent friendship development. However, previous research has focused on the adverse effect of negative parenting on adolescents' behavioral problems that undermines their friendships (e.g., Cook et al., 2012). Positive parenting, beyond the absence of negative parenting behaviors, intends to empower the child and strengthen their competencies, including promoting their independence and acknowledging individual strengths. These assets could enhance social competencies that are needed to form and maintain high quality friendships during adolescence (Batool & Lewis, 2020). We propose gratitude (i.e., showing appreciation for others) and empathy (i.e., understanding others perspectives) are two critical social competencies for adolescent interpersonal relationships. Therefore, this study focused on autonomy-supportive and strength-based parenting as two dimensions of positive parenting to examine their predictive effect on friendship, through the mediation of social competence. We used a path model to analyze data of 506 late adolescences (85.4% females; age: M=18.4, SD=0.68) from the student participant pool collected via SONA program. Participants were asked to report parents' autonomy support and strength-based parenting during adolescence, their social emotional competencies (gratitude, and empathy), and current friendship quality. The latent mediational model of positive parenting, social competencies, and friendship quality had a good fit with the data. Autonomy-support parenting was significantly associated to social competencies of gratitude and empathy. Strength-based parenting was not significantly associated to gratitude and empathy. Both indicators of social competencies significantly predicted adolescent friendship quality. Lastly, latent mediational model suggest that social competence partially mediates the relationship between positive parenting (i.e., strength-based, and autonomy-supportive parenting) and adolescent friendship quality. This study will contribute to the underdeveloped topic of positive parenting from a strength-based approach and will provide insight how positive parenting influences adolescent friendship quality through the mediation of social competence.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
adolescent friendship quality, positive parenting, social competence