Adolescence is a point of transition for families that can create turbulence in the parent-child relationship as both parties work to successfully navigate changing relational dynamics (Branje, 2008; Branje et al, 2013; Knobloch & Solomon, 2004). Conﬂict is characteristic of this developmental stage due to the high levels of interdependence and emotional involvement between parents and adolescent children (Braiker & Kelly, 1979; Laursen & Collins, 2004; Sillars et al, 2004). Indeed, adolescents report experiencing interpersonal conﬂict most often with mothers, followed by fathers and close friends (Laursen & Collins, 1994). Parentchild conﬂicts can increase in both frequency and intensity during early adolescence with the topics of conﬂict often centering on mundane issues such as cleanliness, chores, and curfews (Adams & Laursen, 2001). The conﬂictual discussions between parents and adolescents are of substantial import to adolescent development as children seek to obtain autonomy from parents through these interactions (Branje, 2008). Eﬀorts to gain autonomy must be strategically managed to preserve the parent-adolescent relationship and the individuals’ well-being. However, parent-child conﬂict interactions are often resolved through the use of negative communication behaviors including power displays and withdrawal (Adams & Laursen, 2001). As such these conﬂict interactions are punctuated by the use of demand and withdraw behaviors (Caughlin & Malis, 2004a; 2004b; Caughlin & Ramey, 2005). Prior eﬀorts by Caughlin and colleagues have established the presence of these
communicative behaviors in the parent-adolescent relationship (Caughlin & Ramey, 2005) as well as the association of the dyadic pattern of demand-withdraw with adjustment and relational outcomes (Caughlin & Malis, 2004a; 2004b). Despite the established presence of the maladaptive conﬂict behaviors of demand and withdraw within these relationships, scarce research has continued to examine
these behaviors within parent-adolescent conﬂict interactions. The aim of the current chapter is to provide a focused review of demand and withdraw behavior within the context of parent-adolescent relationships and address a limitation of previous research by examining the connection between these behaviors and emotion experience during conﬂict. The chapter is divided into three segments. In the ﬁrst portion, we review the current state of research speciﬁc to demanding and withdrawing during conﬂict between parents and their adolescent children. The second section presents a study of the association between the use of demands and withdrawal in mother-adolescent conﬂict with the experience of negative emotion and perceptions of conﬂict resolution. The concluding remarks place the results of the current study within the larger context of parent-adolescent conﬂict and provide future directions for the study of demand and withdraw behaviors in this context.
The behaviors of demand and withdraw, though often enacted within close relationships (Caughlin, 2002), are maladaptive approaches to conﬂict engagement. Demand behavior includes complaining, nagging, or commanding of another, while withdraw behavior is manifest through disengaging or avoiding an issue under discussion (Caughlin, 2002; Christensen, 1988; Malis & Roloﬀ, 2006; Vogel & Karney, 2002). Though conﬂict during adolescence may not be particularly severe (Caughlin & Ramey, 2005), conﬂict is characteristic of family relationships and for adolescents occurs more often within the parent-child relationship than in other close relations (Branje et al, 2013). When conﬂicts are managed through the employment of demands and withdrawal, the individuals within the relationship and the relationship overall may be adversely aﬀected. Initial eﬀorts by Caughlin and Ramey (2005) to explore demand and withdraw
behavior within parent-adolescent relationships demonstrate that both parties engage in these behaviors during conﬂict. Speciﬁcally, adolescents were more likely to withdraw from conﬂict than were parents, while parents engaged in demanding more so than did adolescents. The authors also examined diﬀerences in employment of these behaviors according to topic ownership. Parents were more likely to engage in demanding behavior when discussing a topic in which they were seeking a change from their child. In turn, adolescents demanded more and withdrew less when engaged in discussion of an issue in which they desired a change in their parent. Together, the results of Caughlin and Ramey’s (2005) analysis indicate the conditions under which parents and adolescent children enact demand and withdrawal communication behaviors. The work of Caughlin and Malis (2004a; 2004b) furthered understanding of
demanding and withdrawing within parent-adolescent relationships by illustrating the detrimental outcomes associated with the enactment of these behaviors during conﬂict. When examining audio recordings of conﬂicts between a parent and a
child 13 to 16 years of age, the authors identiﬁed parents’ and adolescents’ retrospective self-reports of the dyadic pattern of demand-withdraw along with adolescents’ postconversation reports of the pattern to be negatively associated with parents’ perceived relational satisfaction. Additionally with regard to adolescents’ satisfaction, retrospective and post-conversation self-reports of the demand-withdraw pattern were negatively associated with adolescents’ relational satisfaction (Caughlin & Malis, 2004a). Not only may engagement in the dyadic pattern of demand-withdraw be detrimental to perceptions of the parent-child relationship, but also may have negative implications for the individual’s adjustment. Caughlin and Malis (2004b) noted frequent implementation of the dyadic pattern of demand-withdraw in the parent-adolescent relationship was associated with low self-esteem and high substance use (i.e., alcohol and drugs) for both parents and adolescents. Global examinations of conﬂictual interactions between parents and early
adolescents are consistent with the work of Caughlin and colleagues as well. For instance, Branje (2008) conducted a study of conﬂict discussions of 30 dyads consisting of a mother and her 12-year-old daughter. Branje (2008) noted that when mothers and daughters perceived their relationship to be characterized by open communication, daughters were more actively engaged in conﬂict interactions whereas mothers were more passive. Additionally, high levels of variability in the dyadic interaction were associated with mothers and daughters perceiving one another as dominant in the relationship. Branje’s (2008) results, though not speciﬁc to the behaviors of demand and withdraw, suggest a pattern similar to that identiﬁed in earlier work of communication behavior during parent-adolescent conﬂict. Though previous eﬀorts provide insight into the use of demands and withdrawal
within parent-adolescent conﬂict, evidence is limited regarding associations to episodic conﬂict outcomes. Considering, conﬂict is an emotional experience for individuals and that the enactment of conﬂict behaviors is often tied to one’s experience of various emotions (Jones, 2001); it is of interest to delineate the connection between demand and withdraw behaviors and subjective emotion experience within the context of parent-adolescent conﬂict.