Family Problem-Solving and Attachment Quality: Associations With Adolescent Risk-Taking Behavior

Angela Keyzers, Lindsey Weiler, Shelley Haddock, Jennifer Doty


Close parent–child relationships are protective against the development of delinquent behavior. By creating a context for open communication and trust, parents positively influence adolescent development. The current study examined the associations among attachment quality, family problem- solving, and adolescent risk-taking behavior, as well as the mediating effect of family problem-solving on the relationship between attachment quality and adolescent risk-taking behavior. Participants included 520 adolescents (ages 10 to 19, M = 14.24) and their parents or guardians (N = 520). Two path analyses were conducted to test study hypotheses. As predicted, attachment quality was negatively associated with parent and adolescent perceptions of adolescent risk-taking behavior and positively related to family problem-solving ability, after controlling for age, gender, and race/ethnicity. Contrary to our hypothesis, family problem-solving ability did not mediate the effect of attachment quality on parent or youth perceptions of adolescent risk-taking behavior. Preventive interventions that encourage warm, supportive bonds between parents and youth may aid families in deterring youth from negative risk-taking behavior. Further research should examine other family-level factors that might influence adolescent risk-taking via direct and indirect pathways.


adolescence; family problem solving; attachment quality; risk taking

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