Strength-based parenting and life satisfaction in teenagers


  • Lea E Waters University of Melbourne



parenting, strengths, life satisfaction, adolescence, positive psychology, wellbeing, authoritative parenting


Two studies demonstrated the positive associations that authoritative parenting and strength-based parenting have with life satisfaction in adolescents. In Study 1, teenagers’ (N = 689; Mage = 15.20, SD = 3.80; 52% male) reports of the degree to which their parents demonstrated authoritative and strength-based parenting (SBP) explained over a third of the variance in life satisfaction scores (Adj. R2 = 35%). SBP explained 19% of variation in life satisfaction scores above and beyond the effects of authoritative parenting. Furthermore, SBP prospectively and significantly predicted 5% of life satisfaction in teenagers 12 months later. Study 2 recruited 127 adolescent-parent dyads (Adolescent Mage 15.30, SD = 2.30; 58% female; Parent Mage = 46.01, SD = 11.02; 67% mothers) and found that parent-reports of the degree to which they are aware of their son/daughter’s strengths and the degree to which they encouraged their son/daughter to use their strengths explained additional variance in life satisfaction in adolescents beyond their adolescent son/daughter’s own strengths-knowledge and strengths-use. It was concluded that strength-based parenting is a significant contributor to life satisfaction during adolescence.

Author Biography

Lea E Waters, University of Melbourne

Melbourne Graduate School of Education

Tenured Professor (PhD)

Director, Centre for Positive Psychology


Andersen, S. L., & Teicher, M. H. (2008). Stress, sensitive periods and maturational events in adolescent depression. Trends in Neurosciences, 31(4), 183–191.

Aquilino, W. S., & Supple, a. J. (2001). Long-Term Effects of Parenting Practices During Adolescence on Well-Being Outcomes in Young Adulthood. Journal of Family Issues, 22(3), 289–308.

Austin, D. B. (2005). The effects of a strengths development intervention program upon the self-perceptions of students’ academic abilities. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences.

Bateson, P., Barker, D., Clutton-Brock, T., Deb, D., D’Udine, B., Foley, R. a, … Sultan, S. E. (2004). Developmental plasticity and human health. Nature, 430(6998), 419–421.

Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529.

Biswas-Diener, R. (2012). The courage quotient: How science can make you braver. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Biswas-Diener, R., Kashdan, T. B., & Minhas, G. (2011). A dynamic approach to psychological strength development and intervention. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(2), 106–118.

Bowlby, J. (1969). Attachment and loss, Volume 1: Attachment. New York: Basic Books.

Calkins, S. D., & Bell, K. L. (1999). Developmental transitions as windows to parental socialization of emotion. Psychological Inquiry, 10, 368-372.

Chang, L., McBride-Chang, C., Stewart, S., & Au, E. (2003). Life satisfaction, self-concept, and family relations in Chinese adolescents and children. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 27(2), 182–189.

Cimpian, A., Arce, H. M. C., Markman, E. M., & Dweck, C. S. (2007). Subtle linguistic cues affect children’s motivation. Psychological Science, 18(4), 314–316.

Clifton, D. O., & Anderson, E. (2002). StrengthsQuest: Discover and develop your strengths in academics, career, and beyond. Washington, D.C.: The Gallup Organization.

Coakes, S. J. (2005). SPSS: Analysis without Anguish: Version 12.0 for Windows. Milton, Qld.: Wiley.

Conoley, C., & Conoley, J. (2009). Positive psychology and family therapy. John Wiley & Sons: New Jersey.

Diener, E., & Diener, M. (1995). Cross-cultural correlates of life satisfaction and self-esteem. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 68(4), 653–663.

Diener, E., Emmons, R., Larsen, J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessmemt, 49(1), 71–75.

Drigotas, S. M., Rusbult, C. E., Wieselquist, J., & Whitton, S. W. (1999). Close partner as sculptor of the ideal self: behavioral affirmation and the Michelangelo phenomenon. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77(2), 293–323.

Eshel, N., Daelmans, B., Cabral De Mello, M., & Martines, J. (2006). Responsive parenting: Interventions and outcomes. Bulletin of the World Health Organization.

Froh, J. J., Sefick, W. J., & Emmons, R. a. (2008). Counting blessings in early adolescents: an experimental study of gratitude and subjective well-being. Journal of School Psychology, 46(2), 213–33.

Gaté, M. A., Watkins, E. R., Simmons, J. G., Byrne, M. L., Schwartz, O. S., Whittle, S., … Allen, N. B. (2013). Maternal Parenting Behaviors and Adolescent Depression: The Mediating Role of Rumination. Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, 42(3), 348–357.

Gilman, R., Easterbrooks, S. R., & Frey, M. (2004). A preliminary study of multidimensional life satisfaction among deaf/hard of hearing youth across environmental settings. Social Indicators Research, 66, 143–164

Govindji, R., & Linley, A. (2007). Strengths use, self-concordance and well-being: Implications for Strengths Coaching and Coaching Psychologists. International Coaching Psychology Review, 2(2), 143–153.

Gray, M. R., & Steinberg, L. (1999). Unpacking Authoritative Parenting: Reassessing a Multidimensional Construct. Journal of Marriage and Family, 61(3), 574–587.

Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., Anderson, R. E., & Tatham, R. L. (2009). Multivariate Data Analysis. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Hetherington, E. M., & Martin, B. (1986). Family factors and psychopathology in children. In H. C. Quay & B. Martin (Eds.), Psychopathological disorders of childhood (3rd ed., pp. 332–339). New York: Wiley.

Hill, J. (2001). How well do we know our strengths? In Paper presented at the British Psychological Society Centenary Conference, Glasgow.

Holmbeck, G. N., Paikoff, R. L., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (1995). Parenting adolescents. In M. Bornstein (Ed.), Handbook of parenting, Vol. 1, Children and parenting (pp. 91–118). Mahwah, N.J.: Erlbaum.

Huebner, E. S., Funk, B. A., & Gilman, R. (2000). Cross-sectional and Longitudinal Psychosocial Correlates of Adolescent Life Satisfaction Reports. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 16(1), 53–64.

Huebner, E. S., Suldo, S. M., Smith, L. C., & McKnight, C. G. (2004). Life satisfaction in children and youth: Empirical foundations and implications for school psychologists. Psychology in the Schools, 41(1), 81–93.

Jackson, C., Henriksen, L., & Foshee, V. a. (1998). The Authoritative Parenting Index: predicting health risk behaviors among children and adolescents. Health Education & Behavior : The Official Publication of the Society for Public Health Education, 25(3), 319–337.

Kern, M. L., Waters, L. E., Adler, A., & White, M. A. (2015). A multidimensional approach to measuring well-being in students: Application of the PERMA framework. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 10(3), 262–271.

Lavy, S., Littman-Ovadia, H., & Bareli, Y. (2014). Strengths deployment as a mood-repair mechanism: Evidence from a diary study with a relationship exercise group. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 9(6), 547–558.

Lerner, R. M., & Steinberg, L. (Eds.). (2009). Handbook of adolescent psychology, volume 2: Contextual influences on adolescent development. Hoboken New Jersey: Wiley.

Leung, C. Y.-W., McBride-Chang, C., & Lai, B. P.-Y. (2004). Relations among Maternal Parenting Style, Academic Competence, and Life Satisfaction in Chinese Early Adolescents. Journal of Early Adolescence, 24(2), 113–143.

Madden, W., Green, S., & Grant, A. M. (2011). A pilot study evaluating strengths-based coaching for primary school students: Enhancing engagement and hope. International Coaching Psychology Review, 6(1), 71–83. Retrieved from

Marques, S. C., Lopez, S. J., & Pais-Ribeiro, J. L. (2011). “Building Hope for the Future”: A Program to Foster Strengths in Middle-School Students. Journal of Happiness Studies, 12, 139–152.

Masten, A. S. (2004). Regulatory processes, risk, and resilience in adolescent development. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1021, 310–319.

Nowak, C., & Heinrichs, N. (2008). A comprehensive meta-analysis of triple P-positive parenting program using hierarchical linear modeling: Effectiveness and moderating variables. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 11(3), 114–144.

Park, N. (2005). Life Satisfaction Among Korean Children and Youth: A Developmental Perspective. School Psychology International, 26(2), 209–223.

Peterson, A. C., Kennedy, R. E., & Sullivan, P. (1991). Coping with adolescence. In M. E. Colten & S. Gore (Eds.), Adolescent stress: Causes and consequences (pp. 93–110). New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Peterson, G. W., Bush, K. R., & Supple, A. (1999).

Predicting Adolescent Autonomy from Parents: Relationship Connectedness and Restrictiveness. Sociological Inquiry, 69(3), 431–457.

Proctor, C. L., Linley, P. A., & Maltby, J. (2009). Youth life satisfaction: A review of the literature. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(5), 583–630.

Proctor, C., Tsukayama, E., Wood, A. M., Maltby, J., Eades, J. F., & Linley, P. A. (2011). Strengths Gym: The impact of a character strengths-based intervention on the life satisfaction and well-being of adolescents. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 6(5), 377–388.

Rindfuss, R. R. (1991). The Young Adult Years: Diversity, Structural Change, and Fertility. Demography, 28(4), 493–512.

Rusbult, C. E., Kumashiro, M., Kubacka, K. E., & Finkel, E. J. (2009). “The part of me that you bring out”: ideal similarity and the Michelangelo phenomenon. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 96(1), 61–82.

Sanders, Matthew R. and Kirby, James N. (2014) A public-health approach to improving parenting and promoting children's well-being. Child Development Perspectives, 8 4: 250-257.

Schwartz, O. S., Byrne, M. L., Simmons, J. G., Whittle, S., Dudgeon, P., Yap, M. B. H., … Allen, N. B. (2014). Parenting During Early Adolescence and Adolescent-Onset Major Depression: A 6-Year Prospective Longitudinal Study. Clinical Psychological Science, 1(4), 1–15.

Schwartz, O. S., Dudgeon, P., Sheeber, L. B., Yap, M. B. H., Simmons, J. G., & Allen, N. B. (2012). Parental behaviors during family interactions predict changes in depression and anxiety symptoms during adolescence. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 40(1), 59–71.

Schwartz, O. S., Sheeber, L. B., Dudgeon, P., & Allen, N. B. (2012). Emotion socialization within the family environment and adolescent depression. Clinical Psychology Review, 32(6), 447–453.

Seibel, F. L., & Johnson, W. B. (2001). Parental control, trait anxiety, and satisfaction with life in college students. Psychological Reports, 88(2), 473–80.

Seligman, M. E. P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. American Psychologist, 55(1), 5–14.

Seligman, M. E. P., Ernst, R. M., Gillham, J., Reivich, K., & Linkins, M. (2009). Positive education: positive psychology and classroom interventions. Oxford Review of Education, 35(3), 293–311.

Sheeber, L., Hops, H., Alpert, A., Davis, B., & Andrews, J. (1997). Family support and conflict: Prospective relations to adolescent depression. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 25(4), 333–344.

Sheely-Moore, A. I., & Bratton, S. C. (2010). A strengths-based parenting intervention with low-income African American families. Professional School Counseling, 13, 175–183.

Sheridan, S. M., & Burt, J. D. (2009). Family-Centered Positive Psychology. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive psychology (pp. 551–559). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Spreitzer, G., Stephens, J. P., & Sweetman, D. (2009). The Reflected Best Self field experiment with adolescent leaders: exploring the psychological resources associated with feedback source and valence. The Journal of Positive Psychology, 4(5), 331–348.

Steinberg, L. (2014) the Age of Opportunity. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: New York

Steinberg, L., & Morris, A. S. (2001). Adolescent development. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 83–110.

Suldo, S. M., & Huebner, E. S. (2004a). Does life satisfaction moderate the effects of stressful events on psychopathological behaviour during adolescence? School Psychology Quarterly, 19, 93–105.

Suldo, S. M., & Huebner, E. S. (2004b). The role of life satisfaction in the relationship between authoritative parenting dimensions and adolescent problem behavior. Social Indicators Research, 66, 165–195.

Suldo, S. M., & Huebner, E. S. (2006). Is extremely high life satisfaction during adolescence advantageous? Social Indicators Research, 78(2), 179–203.

Suldo, S. M., Savage, J. A., & Mercer, S. H. (2013). Increasing Middle School Students’ Life Satisfaction: Efficacy of a Positive Psychology Group Intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 15(1), 19–42.

Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2014). Using multivariate statistics (6th ed.). Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Limited.

Ullman, C., & Tatar, M. (2001). Psychological adjustment among Israeli adolescent immigrants: A report on life satisfaction, self-concept, and self-esteem. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 30(4), 449–463.

Waters, L. (2015). The relationship between strength-based parenting with children’s stress levels and strength-based coping approaches. Psychology, 6, 689–699.

World Health Organization (2014). Health for the World’s Adolescents.

Wilson, K., Havighurts, S., & Harley, A. (2014). Dads tuning in to kids: Piloting a new parenting program targeting fathers' emotion coaching skills. Journal of Community Psychology, 42, 162–168.

Wilson, K., Havighurts, S., & Harley, A. (2014). Improving parenting of toddlers' emotions using an emotion coaching parenting program: A pilot study of tuning in to toddlers. Journal of Community Psychology, 42, 169-175.

Yap, M., Allen, N., & Ladouceur, C. (2008). Maternal Socialization of Positive Affect: The Impact of Invalidation on Adolescent Emotion Regulation and Depressive Symptomatology. Child Development, 79, 1415-1431




How to Cite

Waters, L. E. (2015). Strength-based parenting and life satisfaction in teenagers. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 2(11).