Parent–Adolescent Decision Making: Embracing Dialogical Complexity

Nancy J. Bell, Emilia Baron, Kimberly Corson, Erin Kostina-Ritchey, Helyne Frederick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Contemporary research on parent–adolescent decision making has been concerned with decision outcomes and has viewed these outcomes as indicators of adolescent autonomy. We offer an alternative, dialogical perspective, which directs attention to how adolescents and parents co-construct a decision. The analysis is based on parent and daughter narrations of an important school choice—the decision to apply to a new college-preparatory middle school for girls. By highlighting the decision process in three families, we illustrate how co-construction of a decision can differ even among families who would be classified in the same way on the commonly used outcome assessment. We also question the concept of adolescent decision-making “autonomy” in that it has fostered a disregard for the rich dialogical context of all decision making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1780-1799
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Family Issues
Issue number13
StatePublished - Nov 13 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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