Teen Time With Dad Critically Important
It is often assumed that teens prefer to spend time with their friends, rather than their parents. A new study just released from Penn State University shows this is not necessarily the case.
Yes, teens want to spend time with friends. Yes, teens want their own space. Yes, teens want more independence. Yet, teens do not always just want to spend time with their friends.
Researchers have discovered that teens want to spend private time with their parents, and that time can actually increase during these critical developmental years.
Psychcentral.com reported on August 22 that Susan McHale, a professor of human development at Penn State University and co-author of the study, said, “The stereotype that teenagers spend all their time holed up in their rooms or hanging out with friends is indeed just a stereotype.”
McHale also said, “Our research shows that, well into the adolescent years, teens continue to spend time with their parents and that this shared time, especially shared time with fathers, has important implications for adolescents’ psychological and social adjustment” (emphasis added). The study is published in the August issue of Child Development.
HealthDay News also reported that the purpose of the study was to discover how time spent with parents affected teens’ self-esteem and sense of social competence with their peers.
Researchers created a study in which they invited families in 16 school districts in Central Pennsylvania to participate. Two hundred white, middle- and working-class families living in small cities, towns and rural communities accepted the invitation. The study lasted for seven years.
On five occasions over the seven years, the research team conducted home and telephone interviews with the father, mother, teenager and younger sibling in each family. At the start of the study, the oldest child was about 11 years old, the second-oldest was about 8.
During the home interview, the children reported on their social skills with peers and their self-esteem. After each home visit, the researchers also conducted a series of seven nightly phone interviews, asking the teens about their activities during the day of the call, including who participated in the activities with them.
McHale said, “Talking to the kids on the phone about what they did that day really gives you insight into the reality of everyday life for them. Rather than getting generalized or processed information, it’s right when things have been happening and in the children’s own words, and it’s harder for them to make mistakes or forget.”
One conclusion drawn from the study shows that teen time with parents and friends together declines as the teen grows older. However, teen private time with the parent often increases as the child grows into the late teen years.
The study authors were surprised to discover that when fathers spent more time alone with their teenagers, the kids reported that they felt better about themselves. “Something about the father’s role in the family seemed to boost self-esteem among the teenagers in the study,” McHale said.
Researchers also recognized that one of the significant ingredients that differentiated one family from another was how much time the father was around and involved with the family.
This study flies in the face of previous studies that concluded the role of the father was obsolete. Be sure to read online or download Gerald Flurry’s booklet Conspiracy Against Fatherhood. This booklet emphasizes the need for strong, loving fathers.