Parental social networks and child development

Ross Homel, Ailsa Burns, Jacqueline Goodnow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)


It has often been suggested - but not demonstrated - that parents’ links with kin, neighbours, friends and formal organizations are likely to have many effects on children. In the present study independent interviews were held with 305 nine-to eleven-year-old children and their parents. Two aspects of parents’ networks displayed strong effects: (a) the parental possession of regularly seen dependable friends (‘friends you can call on in a crisis’), and (b) parents’ affiliation with formal organizations. Both were associated with a range of effects. The parents’ possession of dependable friends was related to the child's self-rated happiness, negative emotions, friendship network, school adjustment and social skills. Parents’ formal group affiliations were related to the child's happiness, negative emotions, school adjustment and social skills. Over and beyond network variables, the socio-economic status of the neighbourhood also displayed an effect, primarily on children's social involvement with peers and friendship patterns. The results point to some particular mechanisms that may underlie network effects: e.g. parents providing models of friendship patterns or access routes to the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-177
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1987

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