There are new findings that link better long-term health for adolescents that have a strong and healthy bond with their parents.
Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found investments in improving parent-adolescent relationships could help improve general health, mental health, and sexual health.
That healthy bond also flows through to a reduction in substance use in young adulthood.
There has been some prior research that showed similar results, though the sample size of participants in those trials, and some other limitations such as only looking at relationships with mothers, left the outcomes a little bit limited.
This new research from the U.S., however, was much more extensive.
Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, the researchers tested whether adolescents’ reports of specific, measurable characteristics of their relationships with mother and father figures with whom they live were linked to health outcomes measured 14 years later.
The researchers looked at data from more than 15,000 adults who were initially enrolled in the study in the mid-1990s when they were between 12 and 17 years old.
“Our goal was to establish a clearer understanding of how different characteristics of mother-adolescent and father-adolescent relationships might be associated with a wide range of favorable outcomes in young adulthood,” – senior study author Carol A. Ford, MD.
In this study, the researchers looked at characteristics such as reported parental warmth, communication, time together, and academic expectations as assessed when the participants were between 12 and 17 years old.
When those same participants were 24 to 32 years old, they reported on current levels of stress, depression, optimism, nicotine dependence and substance abuse, and other measures of general health.
The study found that participants who reported higher levels of mother-adolescent and father-adolescent warmth, communication, time together, academic expectations, relationship or communication satisfaction, and inductive discipline reported significantly higher levels of general health in young adulthood.
Similarly, they reported significantly higher levels of optimism and romantic relationship quality and lower levels of stress and depressive symptoms as young adults.
Higher levels of adolescent-reported parental warmth, time together, and relationship or communication satisfaction were also significantly associated with lower levels of nicotine dependence and substance abuse in young adulthood as well as lower odds of unintended pregnancy.
“The overall pattern of these results suggests strong relationships between adolescents and their mothers and fathers leads to better health and well-being in young adulthood,” Ford said.
“Efforts to strengthen parent-adolescent relationships may have important long-term health benefits.”
If your relationship with your child or teen isn’t running as smoothly as it could, why not consider some Counselling? I can work with you and your young person to try and bridge the gap and get things back on track.
The short, medium, and long-term effects could make it a very wise investment.