The Family Environment and Adolescent Well-Being

Research BriefFamiliesNov 1 2014

Adolescence is an important developmental phase along the path to adulthood, years during which youth become increasingly independent from their families.1 Yet parents and other family members still play a critical role in the promotion of adolescents’ well-being, by providing a positive support system within which youth can explore their changing identity.2 There were 25 million children aged 12 to 17 in the United States in 2013, living in diverse family environments. An estimated 66 percent of adolescents live with both parents (biological, step, or adoptive), 25 percent are in single-mother households, while only 5 percent live with a single father. Just over 40 percent of all adolescents and as many as 60 percent of black and Hispanic adolescents live in low-income families.3 Overall, 21 percent of adolescents are Hispanic, 56 percent are white, non-Hispanic, and 15 percent are black, non-Hispanic.4 In this brief, we update the findings from the 2006 publication, The Family Environment and Adolescent Well-being: Exposure to Positive and Negative Family Influences,5 and highlight several key areas of interaction between the family environment and adolescent well-being, using national data sources.