367 Parents & Friendship

Research by Dickson, Daniel. J., Huey, M., Laursen, B., Kiuru, N., Nurmi, Jari-Erik. (2018).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S.

We all know that parents have considerable influence over the lives of their children, both positively and negatively. But do they influence whether a young child can maintain friends?

Researchers investigated whether characteristics of parents would predict how stable their child’s friendships are in elementary school. About 1,500 Finnish children and their parents participated in this study. Parents completed surveys on parenting including factors of behavioral control, psychological control (punitive and controlling), affection and a questionnaire measuring their depressive symptoms.

Results? Parents with high levels of psychological control and depression had children with more difficulties with peers. Psychologically controlling and depressed parents create a negative emotional environment, and do not model the positive, welcoming social skills needed to build lasting peer friendships.

Parents! Get help, if needed. Find even minutes daily to have fun with your child (read to, joke, hug, play a brief word game), show warmth, resolve conflicts positively, arrange play dates for your child. Start the day fresh, give them a cheery greeting, welcoming smiles, a hug. Remember, how you relate to your child not only affects their relationship with you, but it may also impact their peer relationships!


Dickson, D. J., Huey, M., Laursen, B., Kiuru, N., Nurmi, J. (2018). Parent contributions to friendship stability during the primary school years. Journal of Family Psychology, 32(2), 217-228.

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