Parent-adolescent conflict: The case of public secondary school students in Nairobi.
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Parent-Adolescent conflict has not been given due attention as a familial and societal problem. There is paucity of research particularly in the context of Kenyan families regarding the types of issues creating most frequent conflict between adolescents and their parents, its frequency and intensity, variation across families and strategies for coping. This study therefore attempted to investigate the problem of parent-adolescent conflict by specifically examining the determinants, dynamics, and consequences of the conflicts on family functioning. The study was conducted using 150 high school going children and 30 parents in Nairobi Province. Two hypotheses were tested during this study among other variables. One was that there is a relationship between the type of family of the adolescent and the seriousness of conflicts with parents. The second hypothesis was that the gender of the adolescent determines frequency of conflicts with parents. The findings disputed these hypotheses as it was found that there is no relationship between the type of family of the adolescent and the seriousness of conflicts with parents. Similarly, the study established that there exists no relationship between the gender of the adolescent and frequency of conflicts with parents. The study found that the main issues of conflict between parents and adolescents are: ~ Friends, School performance, household chores, going out and coming home late, Television and loud music late among others. Mothers were rated as the parents with whom the adolescent has most frequent disagreements for the reason that teenagers tend to interact more closely with mothers than the fathers. Conflicts are relatively frequent and were linked to adolescent internalising and externalising problems such as drop in academic performance, drug use, suicidal ideation, contemplating running away from home, increased sense of isolation . Intra-family relationships are affected due to the disruption and lor threat to family homeostasis. The study established that parent-adolescent conflicts also results in: development of intra family alliances and coalitions, stand off between feuding dyads and other family members, stress in the marital relationship and breakdown in communication within the family system, According to the study, parents appeared to have better mechanisms of dealing with conflicts than their teenage children who preferred the avoidance method. The study therefore concluded that parent-adolescent conflict is a family reality and while these disagreements are frequent, they have the capacity to interfere with the other subunits in the family thus damaging the family system's equilibrium. The family needs to be supported in raising of adolescent children through the promotion of community wide family programmes among other activities.