Time with parents key to teens' well-being
The key to the future well-being of teens lies in spending time with parents, instead of growing distant and independent.
Researchers from Pennsylvania State University studied whether the stereotype of teens growing apart from their parents and spending less time with them captured the everyday experiences of families.
On five occasions over seven years, they conducted home and phone interviews with mothers, fathers and the two oldest children in almost 200 middle-and working-class families living in small cities, towns, and rural communities, the journal Child Development reports.
At the start of the study, the oldest children were about 11 years and the second oldest were about eight years, according to a Pennsylvania statement.
In the two to three weeks following each home visit, 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 different activities they undertook.
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 stereotype 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 at Pennsylvania, who co-authored 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 teens spent with parents and others was less pronounced for second-born than for first-born children. 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.