Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Research on Adolescence 17:4 (2007), pp. 639-667; doi 10.1111/j.1532-7795.2007.00539.x Copyright © 2007 Society for Research on Adolescence; published by Wiley-Blackwell. Used by permission.


Perceptions of good parent–adolescent relationships were explored among 19 Mexican American high school students aged 14–17 who participated in focus group interviews on what it means for Mexican American teenagers to have good relationships with parents. Using a grounded theory approach, five general themes emerged in the responses, corresponding to open communication, instrumental and emotional support, indirect expressions of caring, parental control, and valued relationship qualities. Both genders described distinct relationships with mothers and fathers. Relationships with mothers were closer and more open than relationships with fathers, and mothers were seen as being more affectionate, lenient, and emotionally supportive, whereas fathers tended to express caring indirectly by providing instrumental and financial support and by just being there. Parental upbringing, culture, gender, and parental role expectations emerged as explanations for parents’ behavior. Theoretical, methodological, and practical implications are discussed.