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Sources of Conflict Between Parents and Teenagers Essay

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Updated: Dec 24th, 2020


Intergenerational conflicts often attract a lot of attention although they have been researched for decades and even centuries. The conflict between parents and children may take different forms, but it often results in serious issues for all the stakeholders including the development of serious mental and emotional disorders (Koehn and Kerns 2016). Family relationships have been discussed within different platforms including popular literature and scholarly sources. These two sources have different goals but can serve as the facilitators of the debate on the matter. This media report focuses on the intergenerational conflict related to dress codes and the way they are presented in scholarly and popular sources.

Cultural Aspects

One of the recurrent themes linked to dress codes and the conflict between parents and adolescents is the adherence to cultural norms. Rasmi and Daly (2015) explore this issue and claim that Arab teenagers emphasize that their parents try to control the way they dress, which is regarded as undesirable and inappropriate by their children. It is noteworthy that the participants of the study tended to mention their parents’ focus on the existing norms and other people’s opinions. Popular media also address this area displaying the way parents and their children resolve their conflicts. Awad (2015) mentions the things Arab teenagers have to hide from their parents, and certain kind of clothes is number two on the list.

It is necessary to note that the two articles dwell upon a similar topic but focus on different elements. The information is also presented in two different ways as the popular media aim at entertaining rather than providing facts and conclusions. Rasmi and Daly (2015) carry out a qualitative study and interview several participants to gain insights into the way people see the conflict. At the same time, Awad (2015) provides some tweets to support her claims.

Irrespective of the different levels of reliability and validity, the two sources help in understanding the nature of the conflict in Arab families. It is clear that Arab parents use an authoritative style to ensure their adolescent children’s compliance with certain rules and norms. Awad (2015) also sheds light on the way teenagers handle the problem by concealing their clothes. The author unveils some strategies adolescents use to address the conflict. It is obvious that inappropriate methods are often found, and more severe problems can emerge.

The articles mentioned above are closely linked to the topic related to race and ethnicity discussed by Cohen (2018). Cohen (2018) states that families tend to be affected by such outside forces as culture, ethnicity, and race. Arab Americans, especially new immigrants, face a myriad of issues so dressing codes can be a manifestation of belonging to a group. It is also clear that parents try to maintain ties with their heritage through strict adherence to norms while adolescents are more open and willing to fit in, which creates the premise for the conflict (Rasmi and Daly 2015).

The cultural aspect of the problem has a considerable significance for the American society that consists of many ethnic groups. For instance, according to Statista (2018), slightly over 60% of the US population is comprised on non-Hispanic whites, and this figure is estimated to reach less than 44% by 2060. Therefore, it is important to consider family relationships and intergenerational conflicts in terms of the cultural domain.

Mother-Daughter Dyad

The relationships between specific members of the family draw scholars’ and the public’s attention. When it comes to the conflict associated with dress codes, mother-daughter dyads are often put to the fore. Romo, Mireles-Rios, and Lopez-Tello (2013) examine the way Latina mothers and daughters cope with arising conflicts. It is stated that mothers become less strict when daughters reach the age of 15 years old.

The authors argue that other areas related to conflicts remain a matter of discord while clothing seems a less relevant issue for parents. Romo et al. (2013) also conclude that mothers can be understanding when it comes to dress codes as they want their daughters to fit in and find their place among their peers. Collins (2015) also looks into the problem and notes that appearance and dress codes are specifically relevant for female adolescents as well as their mothers. It is stressed that the conflict situations take place as mothers want to help their daughters while daughters seek approval. In reality, mothers are dissatisfied with clothing choices, and daughters dislike the criticism and feel that they failed their parents.

The two articles dealing with the mother-daughter dyad were not very different in terms of the overall approach. Both sources rely on research as Collins (2015) refers to a professional dealing with family issues. Clearly, the scholarly article is more detailed and focused, but the magazine article is also quite informative. The article by Collins (2015) is published in a magazine that focuses on family issues and claims to provide relevant advice on the matter.

Therefore, the author concentrates on facts and the experience of a professional. Both sources are similar in terms of the conclusions drawn. It is emphasized that mothers should be more understanding and supportive, which will be instrumental in the development of the necessary traits and skills in their daughters.

The two articles discussed in this section are closely linked to the concept of autonomy. Romo et al. (2013) explore this area in detail and note that Latina mothers are ready to grant more autonomy to their daughters who are 15 years old or older. Collins (2015) also includes autonomy in the discussion stressing that adolescent females need more autonomy in order to have the room for proper development.

This aspect of the problem is also significant as the lack of autonomy may result in serious issues in the adult life (Collins 2015). Females may be unable to develop healthy relationships including romantic and parent-child relationships. The current statistics show that modern females have difficulties with the development of family relationships as a third of American women have never been married while 12% are divorced (Statistical Atlas 2018). Hence, the relationships between mothers and daughters should receive appropriate attention in the media.

Children’s and Parents’ Views

Finally, it can be necessary to examine the way children and parents see the conflict. Koehn and Kerns (2016) conducted a qualitative study and asked both parents and their children about their relationships. The researchers state that parental supervision was favorably viewed in middle childhood, but the need for autonomy increased in late childhood and adolescence (Koehn and Kerns 2016). Such aspects as clothes and appearance are viewed as a possible reason for conflicts by the two parties.

However, it is also mentioned that modern parents are more prepared to grant autonomy as compared to previous generations. Flannery (2018) also focuses on the way parents and children see and should view the problem. The author emphasizes that parents and children should be ready to compromise and be less concerned about own interests.

The two articles mentioned in this section are quite different in terms of the focus and writing manner. Koehn and Kerns (2016) discuss the results of their research and equip with all the relevant details. The authors also refer to scholarly sources to support their claims. The article by Flannery (2018) appears at an online magazine addressing family issues. Flannery (2018) does not give any references but grounds on his own experience.

Another difference lies in the fact that the scholarly article includes conclusions concerning the nature of the conflict and its outcomes, but the magazine source includes recommendations with some details related to the essence of the problem. At the same time, both articles’ major conclusion is the importance of autonomy that can help in addressing the conflict or even avoiding it.

The two sources are relevant to the area of family relationships as they provide insights into the nature of the intergenerational conflict and its outcomes. The two articles are associated with such concepts as autonomy and conflict that are explored in detail by Cohen (2018). Autonomy has been discussed above, so the focus will be on the concept of conflict in this section. Cohen (2018) sheds light on the major theoretical underpinning employed in sociology. Conflict theory is one of these frameworks that still guide many studies. The core belief framing the theory is that the change occurs in the course of conflicts. In this case, the conflict of interests is prevalent as parents and children have quite different needs and desires, which makes them collide.

It is also necessary to add that the concept of attachment is explored in the work by Koehn and Kerns (2016). The authors claim that attachment is developed during different stages of childhood and shapes the relationships between parents and their adolescent children. Moreover, it is also stressed that attachment patterns persist in children’s adulthood. Cohen (2018) also examines the notion of attachment and provides information concerning the attachment theory. The exploration of the attitudes of both parents and children is critical to the understanding of the nature and effects of the intergenerational conflict.


In conclusion, it is possible to note that family relationships and intergenerational conflicts attract people’s attention. Scholarly and popular sources provide various insights into the problem. As expected, scholarly sources are more scientific and aimed at investigating the issue and its impact while the focus of the popular media is to entertain and give some recommendations. The brief analysis of the articulated messages indicates that adolescent clothing behavior tends to cause conflicts with parents who often fail to grant their child with the appropriate level of autonomy. It is also clear that this conflict may influence adolescents’ development and lead to serious issues in adulthood.

Therefore, it is pivotal to explore all the aspect of the issue and develop sound recommendations to parents and children. Scholarly works will remain the primary sources of information that is supported by sound evidence. At the same time, the popular media can become the platform for the dissemination of the most relevant information.


Awad, Nina. 2015. “,” Step Feed. Web.

Cohen, Philip N. 2018. The Family: Diversity, Inequality, and Social Change. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

Collins, Lois M. 2015. “,” Deseret News. Web.

Flannery, Blake. 2018. “Sources of Conflict Between Parents and Teenagers,” We Have Kids. Web.

Koehn, Amanda J., and Kathryn A. Kerns. 2016. “The Supervision Partnership as a Phase of Attachment.” The Journal of Early Adolescence 36(7):961-988.

Rasmi, Sarah, and Timothy M. Daly. 2015. “Intergenerational Conflict in Arab Families.” Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology 47(1):42-53.

Romo, Laura F., Rebeca Mireles-Rios, and Gisselle Lopez-Tello. 2013. “Latina Mothers’ and Daughters’ Expectations for Autonomy at Age 15 (La Quinceañera).” Journal of Adolescent Research 29(2):271-294.

Statista. 2018. “” Web.

Statistical Atlas. 2018. “” Web.

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