High-quality parenting practices during adolescence lay the foundation for a child’s close parent-child relationship into adulthood, according to a new Penn State study.
The study is the first to examine how parental engagement, parental warmth and effective discipline during adolescence predict the quality of relationships between parents and their young children, said Greg Fosco, associate professor of human development and family studies. one. Edna Bennett Pierce, director of the Penn State Center for Prevention Research, is the study’s co-principal investigator.
The results of the study were recently published in developmental psychology. The research team’s long-term study of rural and semi-rural households in Pennsylvania and Iowa surveyed 1,631 participants who completed the survey between grades 6 and 12 and again at age 22 .
“Our research shows that parenting styles change considerably during adolescence: parents often express less warmth and affection, spend less time with their teens, and discipline becomes more severe. Parents who are able to maintain active parenting and engagement Laying the groundwork for their teens to develop intimacy as adults,” Fusco said.
Fosco acknowledges that being involved in a teen’s life may look different than when they were younger, and maintaining close relationships with teens can be challenging as they seek greater independence and autonomy. Based on the findings, he recommends the following activities:
- Do something together, like exercise, ride a bike, exercise, walk, play, cook, attend an event, or go out to dinner or dessert.
- Do a project together around the house.
- Talk about what happened at school.
- Discuss what you want to do in the future.
In addition, teens who experienced higher levels of parental warmth in their early teens reported that they were more intimate and warmer with their parents in their 20s, Fusco said.
“It’s a great reminder to say important things in life, like ‘I love you’ or ‘I care about you’, or physical expressions like hugs or pats on the back,” he said.
The study also found that parents who were good at disciplining their sixth-grade children effectively—and maintained those effective practices through adolescence—had fewer conflicting relationships in their children’s 20s.
“Parents should avoid harsh consequences and yelling at teens and try to stay calm and consistently uphold family rules,” said Shichen Fang, a postdoctoral fellow in Concordia University’s Department of Psychology and a former postdoctoral fellow in the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Study. center. “Teenagers want to be treated with the same respect and treatment as adults. It’s important to have clear reasons for family rules and consequences.”
Fusco added that, when appropriate, it can be helpful to involve teens in decisions about family rules, such as discussing a reasonable curfew.
“When parents can involve their teens in those decisions, they are more likely to agree with the decisions that are made,” Fusco said.
Data for the study comes from Promoting School-Community-University Partnerships for Enhanced Resilience (PROSPER), which was funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. PROSPER is also funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and co-funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Fang is the lead author of a published paper on the discovery. Mark Feinberg, professor of health and human development studies at the Edna Bennett Pierce Center for Prevention Research, served as co-principal investigator for the study.