Time with parents is important for teens' well-being

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.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Teens use peers as gauge in search for autonomy

May 11, 2011

As teens push their parents for more control over their lives, they use their peers as metrics to define appropriate levels of freedom and personal autonomy. They also tend to overestimate how much freedom their peers actually ...

Gauging parent knowledge about teens' substance use

Oct 24, 2007

New research results from the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) suggest that most parents are aware of and accurately evaluate the extent of their teenager’s cigarette smoking, marijuana use, ...

Teen births decrease, remain expensive

Oct 30, 2006

A report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy in Washington said childbearing teens cost U.S. taxpayers at least $9.1 billion in 2004.

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

Oct 24, 2014

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

Oct 24, 2014

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

Oct 24, 2014

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments