How Parents Affect Teenage Personality Development

by Lee Grayson

You hear your voice when your teenager laughs, but wonder where he acquired his love for math. Sociologists, biologists and anthropologists debate how much of a child's personality is learned and the role genetics play, but fortunately, the only issue parents need to deal with is creating a loving environment to help teens develop well-adjusted personalities. Many developmental psychologists agree that parents provide the key to healthy personality development.


Your teen's personality shapes the way he thinks and how he handles emotions, according to Dennis O'Neil, professor of anthropology at Palomar College, and personality also influences your child's temperament. What your teenager learns to expect from life, his values and beliefs and how he reacts to successes and disappointments all define his personality. It's impossible to estimate the degree of each influence, but parenting, society and peers shape your child's personality. Spending time with your teen helps you exert more influence on your child's development.

Social Influences

Anthropologists, including Margaret Mead, debate the influence of society and culture on personality development, but most ethnographic scholars agree that society influences the way parents raise children. Child-rearing practices shape personality development. The individual family structure and the community where the teen lives also influence personality development. Some parents guide children to uphold traditions. Parents also encourage teens to use self-monitoring personality behaviors to control actions. Teens learn how to use the conscious self as a part of personality in some homes. Most parents use a combination of these three influences in raising teenagers.


Teens build self-esteem and develop confidence by watching parents deal with life challenges. Loving and supportive parents raise children with higher levels of both confidence and esteem. A long-term study reported in 1984 to the American Psychological Association and confirmed in 2012 by a review of more than 500 studies, found that teen self-esteem improves when the parent of the same gender has high confidence levels, but other studies reported by the APA show that the father's level of esteem as the most important factor for teens of both sexes in developing self confidence.

Parental Importance

Personality development influences how your teen views life and handles life experiences. The APA suggests that personality traits developed in childhood, including perseverance, influence both healthy and unhealthy behavior as adults. Teens raised to develop a strong level of perseverance were less likely to be overweight and less inclined to drink alcohol as adults, according to a 2006 study done by the Oregon Research Institute.

About the Author

*I have written chapters and articles for Oxford and Harvard University Presses, ABC-CLIO, and others. Arcadia Press published two of my local history texts and I have also written for numerous "article sites," including Pagewise in 2002. My "How to become a...real estate agent" is available as an online text from a Canadian publisher. *I taught writing courses at a branch campus of Indiana University. *I held a California real estate license and have remodeled four of my own homes and advised others on financing homes, repairing credit to qualify for loans, and managing construction (including meeting local, state, and federal regulations for restoration and development grants). *I served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer and wrote nearly $75,000 in small education grants (under $1,000). *My travels include frequent road trips in Canada, Mexico, U.S., and Europe. I attended school at Cambridge University and used this as a base to explore the UK and Europe.

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