When Do Adolescents Feel Loved? A Daily Within-Person Study of Parent-Adolescent Relations

John K. Coffey, Mengya Xia, Gregory M. Fosco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Feeling loved has many benefits, but research is limited on how daily behaviors of one person in a relationship shape why someone else feels more or less loved from day to day. The parent-adolescent relationship is a primary source of love. We expected parent-reported warmth and conflict would explain daily fluctuations in how loved adolescents reported feeling. In a sample of 151 families (adolescent MAge = 14.60; 61.6% female) over a 21-day period, we used multilevel models to disentangle within-family (daily variability) and between-family (average levels) parent-reported daily warmth and conflict in relation to adolescents' daily reports about how loved they were feeling. Findings indicated adolescents in families with higher parent-reported warmth across days and higher adolescent-reported closeness with parents felt more loved by their parents, on average. At a within-person level, we found considerable day-to-day variability in how loved adolescents reported feeling that was partially explained by meaningful variability in both parent-reported warmth and conflict across days. On days when parents reported more warmth than usual and less conflict than usual, adolescents reported feeling more loved. Further, a significant within-day interaction indicated that the importance of days' parent warmth was greater on high conflict days, but when parents directed more warmth toward their adolescents, the difference between high- and low-conflict days was negligible. Theoretical implications for studying daily emotional love in parent-youth relationships and suggestions for parenting interventions that focus on daily practices of parent warmth are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


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