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Community Programs to Promote Youth Development
Rhodes, in press). Research in other settings reinforces the finding that adult overcontrol is related to less positive outcomes (Eccles et al., 1993; Grolnick and Ryan, 1987, 1989; Hauser et al., 1991; Roth and Brooks-Gunn, 2000). Grossman and Rhodes also found that longer-term relationships were associated with better youth outcomes (indeed, relationships that were terminated quickly were associated with decrements in several indicators of functioning). These findings underscore the importance of qualities of communication, respect, and long-term stability.
We stress again that these qualities have to be fit to the adolescent; this is implicit in the notion of responsiveness. Different cultural groups have different models of adult-adolescent relationships, and hence support needs to fit with the cultural model of the adolescent’s social group. For some, this will involve more deference to authority (e.g., Doi, 1990); for others, it will involve the granting of autonomy in conjunction with strong emotional support (LaFromboise and Graff Low, 1998). Appropriate types of mentoring may vary by the gender, age, or previous experiences of the adolescent. In general, adolescents need less direct guidance and minute-to-minute support as they grow older and become better able to regulate their own emotions and behavior (Rogoff et al., 1995).
In summary, supportive relationships are critical “mediums” of development. They provide an environment of reinforcement, good modeling, and constructive feedback for physical, intellectual, psychological, and social growth. Parental support strengthens a child’s ability to take on challenge (Csikszentmihalyi and Rathunde, 1998). In Vygotsky’s theoretical view (Vygotsky, 1978), the attentive, caring, and wise voice of a supportive adult gets internalized and becomes part of the youth’s own voice.
Opportunities to Belong
Research across settings substantiates the importance of opportunities to develop a sense of belonging. Families that provide multiple opportunities for the children to be actively involved in family decision making and activities have adolescents who are less antisocial and who exhibit better self-regulation and social responsibility (Grotevant, 1998). Similarly, teachers who provide opportunities for all students to participate and feel valued have students who do better on a wide range of academic outcomes (Goodenow, 1993; Ford and Harris, 1996; Eccles et al., 1996b, 1998; Maehr and Midgley, 1996). Adolescents who feel connected to their schools report lower levels of emotional stress, violent