Time with parents is important for teens' well-being

August 21, 2012

It's thought that children grow increasingly distant and independent from their parents during their teen years. But a new longitudinal study has found that spending time with parents is important to teens' well-being.

The study, conducted at the Pennsylvania State University, appears in the journal Child Development.

Researchers studied whether the stereotype of teens growing apart from their and spending less time with them captured the everyday experiences of families by examining changes in the amount of time youths spent with their parents from early to late adolescence. On five occasions over seven years, they conducted home and phone interviews with moms, , and the two oldest children in almost 200 White, middle- and working-class families living in small cities, towns, and . At the start of the study, the oldest children were about 11 and the second oldest were about 8.

During the home interviews, teens reported on their social skills with and their general sense of self-worth. In the two to three weeks following each home visit, the researchers also conducted a series of seven nightly phone interviews, asking teens about their activities during the day of the call, including who participated in the activities with them.

According to youths' reports of their daily time, although parent-teen time when others were also present declined from the early to late teen years, parent-teen time with just the parent and the teen present actually increased in early and middle adolescence—a finding that contradicts the of teens growing apart from their parents.

"This suggests that, while adolescents become more separate from their families, they continue to have one-on-one opportunities to maintain close relationships with their parents," according to Susan McHale, professor of human development and director of the Social Science Research Institute at the Pennsylvania State University, who coauthored the study.

Furthermore, teens who spent more time with their dads with others present had better social skills with peers, and teens who spent more time alone with their dads had better general self-worth, according to the study.

The study also found that the decline in the time spent with parents and others was less pronounced for second-born than for first-born siblings. And it found that both moms and dads spent more time alone with a child of their same sex when they had both a daughter and a son.

Explore further: Mother-son ties change over time, influence teen boys' behavior

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Can nicotine protect the aging brain?

September 20, 2016

Everyone knows that tobacco products are bad for your health, and even the new e-cigarettes may have harmful toxins. However, according to research at Texas A&M, it turns out the nicotine itself—when given independently ...

Science can shape healthy city planning

September 23, 2016

Previous studies have shown a correlation between the design of cities and growing epidemics of injuries and non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. A three-part series published in The Lancet ...

50-country comparison of child and youth fitness levels

September 21, 2016

An international research team co-led from the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) and the University of North Dakota studied the aerobic fitness levels of children and youth across 50 countries. The results are ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.