The development of interpersonal competencies, including the capacity to form and maintain satisfying relationships, is a primary developmental task during adolescence. However, most nationally representative surveys do not collect information on the quality of young people's relationships with their families and peers. And, except for Monitoring the Future and the National Youth Survey, most of the studies that investigate the effects of work on relationships use local or nonrepresentative samples, making their findings difficult to generalize to U.S. adolescents as a whole. Yet because of the importance of interpersonal relationships during adolescence, the research summarized in this section, though limited, provides useful information about potential effects of teenage work on relationships.
The job sites where adolescents work are often age segregated (Greenberger, 1988). Although young workers have much contact with people of their own ages, relationships with coworkers may be rather superficial, and the conditions of work may interfere with the development of close friendships. Conversely, working may confer status on young workers, improving their peer relationships. Good relationships with coworkers or supervisors may counterbalance difficult peer or family relationships.
Students in the National Youth Survey who worked for a longer duration (during a 1-year period in high school) spent less time with their parents than did other students (Mihalic and Elliot, 1997). Greenberger and colleagues (1980) reported that time spent with parents was less among employed students than among other students and that it diminished as the hours of work increased (see also Greenberger and Steinberg, 1986; Mortimer and Shanahan, 1994). Steinberg and Dornbusch (1991), found that the numbers of hours high school students in California and Wisconsin worked were associated with their spending less time in family activities. There is evidence that youngsters become more independent of their parents when they are employed more intensively during high school (Mortimer and Shanahan, 1994; Shanahan et al., 1991; Steinberg and Dornbusch, 1991; Steinberg et al., 1993), a consequence that parents tend to view as a good thing (Phillips and Sandstrom, 1990). Although such independence may be deleterious when accompanied