Social support during adolescence and early adulthood

One of the challenges one faces as an adolescent and young adult is achieving independence. We are accustomed to thinking that this signifies a change where parents become less important, while friendships become more important. Is this the truth in its entirety? 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 if one gets arrested.

Social support figure 1

As we can see in figure 1 everyone became more important during young adulthood compared to adolescence. Perhaps this is due to an increasing ability to reach out? The family´s importance, however, remains largely unchanged. The most important change is the increased importance of the romantic partner as an important source of support.

Social support figure 2

The same tendency appears in the other questions posed, for instance getting advice in a tricky situation like when being arrested: parents remain important as do friends. Then perhaps independence does not make parents less important for most of us, but important in a different way?