Predictors of adolescent boys seeking help from their father and their mother
University of New Brunswick
Previous research has shown that adolescent boys hold less positive views of help seeking and seek help less frequently than adolescent girls (Garland & Zigler, 1994; Raviv et al., 2009; Sears, 2004). However, few studies have focused solely on adolescent boys in order to understand their help-seeking experiences. In addition, few studies have distinguished between adolescents’ experiences seeking help from their father and from their mother. Guided by Newman’s model of adaptive help seeking (1991, 2000), we examined the frequency with which adolescent boys sought help from their father and their mother; identified markers of social-cognitive skills, affective-motivational resources, and an environmental factor (i.e., parent coaching of help seeking) that predicted boys’ help seeking from their father and their mother; and examined whether an environmental factor moderated the relationships between boys’ reports of their relationship quality with a parent and help-seeking behaviour from a parent. Two hundred and thirty-two adolescent boys enrolled in a New Brunswick high school (Grades 9-11) completed an anonymous survey at school. Results indicated that boys “sometimes” sought help from their father and their mother. Boys’ reports of more self-disclosure to their father and more positive past help-seeking experiences with their father predicted more frequent help seeking from their father. Boys’ reports of more self-disclosure to their mother, more positive past help-seeking experiences with their mother, and more coaching by their mother to use help-seeking behaviour predicted more frequent help seeking from their mother. In addition, boys’ reports of mother coaching use of help seeking moderated the relationship between boys’ reports of negative relationship qualities with their father and help seeking from their father. Supplemental analyses revealed that boys’ emotional competence and reports of positive qualities in the parent-adolescent relationship were also important correlates of boys’ help-seeking behaviour from their father and their mother. These findings provide support for applying Newman’s model to the family context. Other implications for Newman’s model and alternative models of help seeking, as well as for prevention and intervention strategies targeting boys’ use of help seeking from their father and their mother are also discussed.