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The Effects of Adolescence Developmental Crisis on the Well-being of the Family

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This study investigated the “Effects of adolescence Developmental Crisis on the Well-being of the Family”. To carry out this investigation, the survey method was used and the purposive sampling technique was adopted for the study. The questionnaire was used as the main instrument for data collection with 174 adolescents and 174 adults chosen from two selected quarters within the Buea municipality. The study was constructed using five research objectives which focused on finding out the effects adolescent identity crisis has on the well-being of the family, the effect that adolescent peer influence has on the family, the effects that parent-adolescent relationship has on the family, understanding the relationship between adolescent behavioral changes and family life and equally to examine how cognitive, physical, emotional and psychological changes in adolescents affect the well-being of the family. This study was guided by five hypotheses and after data was collected and properly presented using tables, these hypotheses were retained. A conclusion was drawn at the end of the study which proved  that adolescent identity crisis, peer influence, parent-adolescent relationship, adolescent behavioral changes, and physical, cognitive, emotional and psychosocial changes in adolescents has an effect on family life. After discussing the findings of this work, recommendations were made based on the objectives, the limitations involved in carrying out the study  and suggestions for further research on this topic was stipulated by the researcher.



This chapter focuses on the background of the study, the problem statement, the research objectives, research questions, hypothesis, the rationale and significance of the study. In a nut shell, this chapter seeks to give a general idea on the research topic and how it will be handled or researched.

Background to the study                                                                      

Although the first use of the word ” adolescence” appeared in the 15th century and came from the Latin word “adolescere” which meant to grow up or grow into maturity ( Lerner & Steinberg, 2009), it wasn’t until 1940 that the first president of the American Psychological Association, G. Stanley Hall, was credited with discovering adolescence ( Henig, 2010). In his study titled “Adolescence”, Hall described this new developmental phase that came about due to social changes at the turn of the 20th century. Hall did not have a very positive view of this phase, and he believed that society needed to “burn out the vestiges of evil in their nature”. Therefore, adolescence was a time of overcoming one’s beast-like impulses as one was engulfed in a period of “storm and stress”. Hall identified three key aspects of this phase; mood disruptions, conflict with parents, and risky behavior (Henig, 2010).

In 1962, Peter Blos published a book on Adolescence. Blos researched into the problems of teens, his brothers described the conflicts teens have between wanting to break free of their parents and desiring to remain dependent. He popularized the notion that there were two individuation stages in human development. The first occurs when one is a toddler, and the second takes place when one is an adolescent and is finally able to shed family dependencies. Since maturity depends on achieving a degree of Independence, it is during adolescence that the “self” develops. The goal is to be independent and to discover and celebrate ones unique attributes as one develops his or her distinct potentials.

Adolescence is generally recognized as a stage in human development. There are many different definitions of adolescence and if differs from country to country and from culture to culture. As such, (Bame, 2005) sees adolescence as the interlude between childhood and adulthood; it is shaped by both biological forces and cultural factors. Adolescence begins when biological hormones trigger physical and psychological changes which the individual in question has never experienced before, to prepare the body for sexual maturity. It is also characterized by poor judgment, risk taking, strong peer influence and idealism. Accordingly to Hall (1940), the period of adolescence begins at puberty at about 12 or 13 years, and ends between 22 to 25 years of age. Hall, goes ahead to describe adolescence as a period of “strum and drang” (storm and stress). This is because it is a period characterized with idealism, commitment to a goal, and revolution against the old, expression of personal feelings, passion and suffering. Hall concludes by saying that adolescents are full of energy and excitement but could also be indifferent and lazy. The adolescence stage is the most delicate stage in the development of the human being. Academic researchers and psychologists have all been trying to understand and bring out possible solutions and ways to deal with adolescence crisis (Hayes, 1994). One often reacts to all developmental stages with so-called developmental crisis, which consists of letting go of the past and adapting to the new life situation. For instance, a crisis may begin as a result of moving away from home, having children, having children, retirement and so on. Age, can also cause crisis to some people, especially when they are in their adolescent age (Robinson et al, 2020).

James and Gilliland (2001) define developmental crisis as a life in which usual coping mechanisms are inadequate in dealing with stress common to a particular stage in the life cycle or with stress caused by a transition from one stage to another. This explains why persons of a particular age group think and act the way they do towards emotional, psychological and cultural factors. Adolescence developmental crisis has been defined in many ways; typically, it refers to the description or upheaval that happens during the adolescence period (Roger, 2014). This study investigates issues on emotional and psychological crisis in adolescence. Emotional crisis has to do with the way they interact with people around them such as their parents, peers, teachers and the community. Psychological crisis includes the way they see themselves and how they place themselves in society. Adolescents tend to go through so many different types of crisis during their adolescence stage in life. Some of this crisis include; peer influence, poor parent- adolescent relationship, drug abuse, identity crisis. However, according to (Moffitt, 1993), some of these crisis linked to adolescence do not necessarily begin or appear in the adolescence stage, most teenagers who have recurrent problems with the law, had problems at school and at home from an early stage. Other studies similar to Moffitt indicate that individuals who develop depression and other sorts of internalizing problems during adolescence, suffered from one or another form of psychological distress such as excessive anxiety, as children (Zahn, Wacker and Rubin, 1995). From the literature above, it is very clear that some of the crisis faced by adolescents are relatively transitional in nature and are resolved by the beginning of adulthood, with long-term repercussions.

Adolescents live in families; made up for the most part of the father, mother, and siblings and in our Cameroon context, other extended family members such as cousins, aunts, uncles etc. The general wellbeing of the family, which is the state of happiness, contentment, interactions with one another is affected by the behavior, physical state, interactions with one another. Smetana (1995), states that when adolescents go through developmental crisis, the most important place where help can come from is the family. The family is the unit of care and has great effect on handling adolescent’s problems, and this could be influenced by family functioning. Studies of changes in family relations during adolescence mostly focus on parent-adolescent conflict. This is because when it comes to parent-adolescent relationship, conflict is an unavoidable issue. Enright (1980) says that, during the period of adolescence, adolescents must redefine their relationships with their family and significant others. The role of parents is to be able to understand the kind of developmental crisis their children are going through. Parents must understand that they are influential figures in adolescent search for identity. Santrock (2010) looks at adolescence developmental crisis particularly in the area of identity crisis in relation to parenting style. Democratic parents encourage adolescents to participate in family decision making, thereby fostering identity achievement. On the other hand, autocratic parents who control the adolescents’ behavior without giving them an opportunity to express opinions encourage identity for closure and discourage identity exploration. Permissive parents provide little guidance to adolescents and allow them to make their own decisions, promote identity diffusion.

 According to Child Care Resource report for 2021, Family wellbeing includes the safety, health, and financial stability of all family members. Safe healthy and financially secure families are more likely to reach the goals they set for themselves and their children. Early childhood professionals can contribute to the well-being of families and their children by building strength based relationships that foster trust and confidence. Brill (2019) looks at family well-being as a multidimensional concept comprising the physical, social, economic and psychological well-being. These different elements in families are dynamic in nature and are in turn also shaped by social economic, political and psychological processes in society.

      Family well-being is more than a moment to moment happiness; it is something deeper, something more consistent and sometimes a challenge to achieve. For every family, its an incredibly important state to pursue for both parents and their children. The Cambridge English Dictionary defines family well-being as the state of a family being healthy and happy. Meanwhile, psychology of today sees family well-being as the experience of health, happiness and prosperity. It includes having good mental health, high life satisfaction, a sense of meaning or purpose and the ability to manage stress within the family context.  As far as the well-being of a family is concerned, both parents and children need to put their hands on deck to ensure the family is healthy and happy. Parents must take into consideration the physical and emotional well-being of their children most especially those at the adolescence stage.

Erikson (1999), conceived a psychological theory proposing that exploration was at the heart of identity crisis in adolescence, and needed to be resolved before youths can address other psychological tasks. It is clear that in the attempt of adolescents to solve their basic developmental crisis which is the crisis of identity (who am I) according to Erikson, the family is of outmost importance, as it has a big role to play in instilling solid morally upright values, such that they grow up to be responsible adults.

Bronfenbrenner (1979) came up with the ecological theory, which views child development as a complex system of relationships affected by multiple levels of the surrounding environment, from immediate settings of family and school to broad cultural values, laws and customs. The theory states that, if children have a strong nurturing relationship with their parents, it will have a positive effect on the children. Whereas, distant and unaffectionate parenting will have a negative effect on the children, which will hinder them from functioning properly.

Freud’s theory of psychosexual development (1948) also portrays adolescence as being fraught with internal struggle. According to Freud, during the last stage of psychosexual development (adolescent or “genital phase”), the child is inundated with instinctual impulses which disrupts the balance between the ego and the id. The ego is pulled between impulses of the id and the restrictions imposed by the superego. The conflict makes adolescence a time of tremendous stress and turmoil.

According to World Population and Housing (2020), Cameroons population is estimated to be over 26million, with youths constituting the larger percentage, with more than half of the population (63%) under 25years, based on 2020 projection of the United Nations data. The government of Cameroon with this in mind has created the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education, which is tasked to come up with youth empowerment programs to help empower youths and keep them active. Over the years, the government of Cameroon has been focused on developing and implementing specific programs aimed at providing concrete solutions to the major difficulties youths face in Cameroon, namely; access to quality education and adequate professional training, fight against drugs and violence, gain access to decent jobs, participation in the day to day activities of the community as well as decision making.

In March 2015, the ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education Cameroon launched a program called “Youth operational plan Cameroon”. This program embodied important projects such as The National Youth Employment Covenant (PANEJ), which is aimed at promoting youth employment, it offers opportunities for young people to acquire a professional training and thus, increase their chances of employment. The Cameroon National Youth Council (CNJC), which is a framework for dialogue, expression, consultation and youth action. These projects are directed towards the socio-economic integration of youths and are performed in collaboration with the ministry of youth affairs and Civic Education, developmental partners like the United Nations, particularly in the areas of education, health and employment. Also, the government of Cameroon in partnership with the Cameroon National Association for Family Welfare (CNAFW) runs programs to educate youths on sex, reproductive health and sexually transmitted diseases. There are also programs meant for women, to help them better plan their family and to enjoy a high standard of living.

All these programs run by the Cameroon government and its partners is geared towards having better educated and informed youths. with the outbreak of the Corona virus pandemic and the ongoing Anglophone crisis, many more organizations have partnered with the government to ensure a better future not just for the citizens but for the youths particularly who are the future of the nation. All this is to ensure that families which make up the nation can function properly.

Statement of the problem

During adolescence, it is a normal pattern for some adolescents to go through certain developmental crisis which can be attributed to physical and psychological changes, but looking at our society today, adolescents involve themselves in a lot of mischievous activities which have roots from adolescence crisis. Some of these activities include; drug abuse, running away from home, prostitution, high levels of violence and bullying etc. These activities may have an effect on their families and the people around them. Therefore, the focus of this research is to find out if this adolescence developmental crisis has an effect(s) on the wellbeing of the family.

General objective

To find out the effects of adolescence developmental crisis on the wellbeing of the family.

Specific objectives

– To investigate the effects that adolescent identity crisis has on the well-being of the family

– To examine the effects that adolescent peer influence has on the well-being of the family

– To find out the effects of parent- adolescent relationship on the well-being of the family

– To understand the relation between adolescent- behavioral changes on family life

– To explain the relationship between the physical, cognitive, emotional and psychological changes in adolescents on the well-being of the family.

General research question

To what extend does Adolescence developmental crisis affect the well-being of the family?

Specific research questions

– What are the effects of adolescent developmental crisis on the well-being of the family?

– What are the effects of adolescent peer influence on family well-being?

– What is the effect of parent-adolescent relationship on the well-being of the family?

– How does changes I adolescent behavior affect the well-being of the family?

– How does the physical, cognitive, emotional and psychological change in adolescents affect the family well-being?

General hypothesis

Ho- there is no significant relationship between Adolescence developmental crisis and the well-being of the family.

Ha- there is a significant relationship between Adolescence developmental crisis and the well-being of the family.

Specific hypothesis

H1o- there is no significant relationship between adolescent identity crisis and the well-being of the family.

H1a- there’s a significant relationship between adolescent identity crisis and the well-being of the family.

H2o- there is no significant relationship between peer influence and the well-being of the family.

H2a- there is a significant relationship between peer influence and the well-being of the family.

H3o- there is no significant relationship between parent-adolescent relationship and the well-being of the family.

H3a- there is a significant relationship between parent-adolescent relationship and the well-being of the family.

H4o- there is no significant relationship between adolescent behavioral changes and the well-being of the family.

H4a- there is a significant relationship between adolescent behavioral changes and the well-being of the family


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