Stress experiences and family coping strategies among families with adolescent children  

Mihic I., Zotovic M., Petrovic J., Jerkovic I., Dedic M.
First author's affiliation: University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia

The research presented in this paper aims to investigate relations between stress experiences of adolescents and the coping strategies in their families. The sample consisted of 201 adolescents, aged 15 to 19 years. All the participants gave information on their stress experiences (Risk scale, Grossman et al., 1990) and then assessed the dominant coping strategies in their families (F-COPES, McCubbin et al., 1981). The most frequent stress experiences among the participants are death of a family member or a person close to the adolescent (60.2%) and car accident (42.3%). Most of the adolescents from the sample have had 2 stress experiences by the time of research. Dominant coping strategies were internal coping strategies (redefining and passive assessment). Based on the number of indicated stress experiences, all participants were divided into two groups: with low stress experiences (up to 2), and high stress experiences (3 or more stress experiences). Research results indicate that these two groups significantly differ in dominant coping family strategies. The participants from the group with higher stress experiences assessed that their families rarely use redefining, and mostly use passive assessment and seeking institutional help as the strategies when coping with stressful events. These results indicate tendency that cumulative family stress may lower the adaptive behaviors and beliefs within family, and alter the family coping mechanisms towards collective denial of the stressful experience itself, and/or family’s capabilities to cope with it.