Objective This study examined the nature and extent of parental participation in the process of adolescents joining an organized program and identify factors underlying variations in overarching patterns of participation. Background Adolescents become increasingly interested in making their own choices and decisions. Thus, families must balance parental goals and adolescents' desire for autonomy in their social activities. Method Interviews were conducted with 62 adolescent program participants and 52 parents. Data analyses followed an inductive approach to identify emergent patterns in the data. Results We identified four roles parents played at the time their adolescent joined a program: emotional supporter, manager, informant, and instrumental supporter. Further, analyses revealed variations in roles and level of involvement related to adolescent age and ethnicity, as well as gaps between adolescent and parent perspectives. Overarching variations in parental engagement (the extent to which parents exerted influence during the joining process) were linked to parent, adolescent, and program factors. Conclusion Findings indicate that a multitude of factors intersect and shape whether and how parents attempt to influence the joining process and manage adolescents' social activities. Implications Our findings can be used by program administrators and youth leaders to strengthen outreach and recruitment efforts with adolescents from ethnically and socioeconomically diverse family backgrounds.