A new study finds that close family relationships for teenagers results in a greater likelihood of healthy adult functioning later in life. Great news...and motivation for parents to make investing in good relationships with their teens a high priority.
Teens who feel they are an important part of their family or who have a trusted family confidant are more likely to become healthy functioning adults, according to a study recently released by the journal Child and Adolescent Mental Health.
The study is one of many completed with data from the Simmons Longitudinal Study, one of the nation's longest running studies on mental health predictors. Led by Simmons School of Social Work Professor Helen Reinherz, the recent study found that adolescents who reported feeling highly valued as a family member at age 15, compared to their peers had higher self-esteem, fewer interpersonal problems, and a lower likelihood of tobacco use, at age 30.
The study, lead-authored by Dr. Angela Paradis of the Harvard School of Public Health, also shows that adolescents who reported having a family confidant, compared to their peers had a substantially reduced risk for mental health concerns in adulthood, such as suicidal thoughts, and alcohol and drug disorders. These individuals also had better occupational and career functioning at age 30.
Further, the study results suggested that confiding family relationships were significantly more influential than confiding peer relationships in promoting positive functioning as an adult.
The authors conclude that the unique influences of each of these family factors on areas of adult functioning continues to affirm the need for broad-based programs aimed at strengthening adolescent-parent relationships.