No matter how old they are, they need their parents
By Kidspot Team |
No matter how old they are, they need their parents
 
Forget the stereotype of the surly, rebellious and rejecting teen: not only do teens need their parents just as much as ever, they also often want them, even if they don’t always admit it.
 
That’s the growing feeling of many people who work with adolescents.
 
Jonathan ‘Jono’ Nicholas, CEO of the Inspire Foundation – which runs Reach Out, a support organisation for young people – says that while the parental role will change during the teen years, it doesn’t lessen.
 
“The teenage years are a time to restructure your relationship with your child, but it’s not time to let go and disengage,” he says. “They still need their mum and dad.”
 
“True, parents may not need to be as hands-on at this time because their kids are biologically driven to become more independent and private – but it’s so important to maintain an active interest in their lives and know what they’re doing and who they’re with.”
 
Research backs Nicholas’ message, indicating that not only does parenting continue to be important for adolescents for a variety of quantifiable reasons but, contrary to belief, many teens themselves report positive relationships and interactions with their parents.
 
A Mission Australia survey – conducted in 2008, of more than 45,000 young people – showed these same findings with more than 75 percent of adolescents saying they highly value their family relationships and 74 percent saying they regarded their parents as an important source of information.
 
A US study showed a similar trend with 84 percent of teenagers saying they thought highly of their mother, 81 percent of teenagers feeling the same about their dad and a surprising 75 percent reporting that they enjoyed spending time with their parents.

5 reasons to stay involved

  • Beyond being liked by your own kids, there are many good reasons to maintain close contact and involvement with your adolescent children.
  • To keep them safe: Countless studies have shown that teens who have a warm and close relationship with their parents are less likely to engage in risky behaviour involving sex and substance abuse.
  • To improve self esteem: Well supported kids who have good communication with their parents have been shown to be more likely to have a higher self-esteem and increased confidence.
  • It will show in their grades: A study undertaken in 21 industrialised democratic countries found that kids who frequently engaged with their parents (through eating meals together, spending time in shared activities) displayed higher literacy and academic performance.
  • Because teens are interesting: As Nicholas says, teens start to look at the world through their own eyes for the first time, forming their own opinions and judgments. He uses terms like “inspirational”, “fun” and “great company” when describing teens.
  • Parents have influence too: Don’t over-emphasise the influence of peers in your teen’s life – the responsibility is shared. While parents are considered vital in decisions concerning employment, safety and money, friends are considered important in decisions about clothes, social activities and entertainment.

Nicholas’s top tip: Build in rituals

“Teens will want to hang out with their friends and spend time engaging with social media, and generally doing stuff without their parents. But if parents create rituals from the start – that could be a family dinner, sharing an interest, cooking a meal, whatever – they will set up a vehicle for connection and communication that their children can rely on.”
 
  • This article was written for Kidspot and is based on an article originally posted by Fiona Baker on parenting.kidspot.com.au
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