Social support during adolescence and early adulthood

One of the challenges in adolescence and young adulthood is achieving independence. As a consequence, parents may become less important, while friendships with peers become more important. But can we be sure to find such changes across adolescence and young adulthood? In the Young in Norway Study we asked who one would reach out to in a time of crisis, for instance when experiencing a personal problem or when getting arrested by the police.

Social support figure 1

As we can see in Figure 1, all persons became more important in young adulthood compared to adolescence. Perhaps people are getting increasingly better in asking for help and support with increasing age? However, the family’s importance does not change much, and the most substantial change is the increased importance of support from romantic partners.

Social support figure 2

We see the same trend in other areas of support, for example getting advice in a tricky situation like when being arrested: parents remain important, as do friends. Perhaps independence does not make parents less important for most of us, but important in a different way?