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.
Researchers studied whether the stereotype of teens growing apart from their parents 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.
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 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, conducted at the Pennsylvania State University, appears in the journal Child Development.
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About Jim Liebelt
Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
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