Attachment style and mother-daughter conflict at the beginning of adolescence

Fredericka Kristin Hoeveler (1999)

The period of adolescence has been the subject of a great deal of speculation, research, and theorizing. It has commonly been identified as the most conflict-ridden period in child development and various theoretical perspectives provide rationale for this. This study, involving female subjects between the ages of 11 and 15 and their mothers, investigates whether there is a connection between the daughter's attachment style to the mother and the frequency, intensity, and method of resolution of conflict between them. Results indicate that daughters with an insecure style of attachment as measured by the Armsden and Greenberg's Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (1987) engage in conflict with their mothers more frequently and with more emotional intensity than do daughters with a secure style of attachment. Implications for this research include the opportunity through attachment theory to understand better the underlying issues with mother-daughter pairs who seem unable to negotiate conflict resolution. A greater understanding would enable us to target attachment behaviors specifically as a way of addressing adolescent parent difficulties.