Links between parental and children's friendship networks

Year: 2002

Author: Wong, Belinda, Neilsen-Hewett, Cathrine

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The current study explored the relationship between parents' friendship networks and children's friendship networks using the Friendship Network Circle Activity (FNCA). Thirty two third-grade children (n=17 boys, n=15 girls) were asked to identify important relationships in their lives by putting names of their friends in each of three concentric circles. These circles represented friendships of different levels of intimacy within each participant's network. Mothers (n=32) and fathers (n=32) also separately completed the FNCA. Information gathered from the FNCA was used to explore both the structural (e.g., total size and intimacy structure) and relational (e.g., relationship status of friends) links among parents' and children's networks. Differential gender patterns were also explored. Results indicated that the size and composition of girls' networks were correlated to their mothers' and fathers' networks, but were not correlated for boys'. The implications of these findings highlight the need for teachers to support and encourage child and parental friendship networks in and outside the classroom, as well as recognizing the potential influence of parental friendships on children's friendships. Directions for future research are also noted.