According to Relationship Theory, the greater the relationship, the greater the ability parents have to connect to their teenager. Another way of stating this is
I = QR
where the impact (I) a parent can have is directly proportional to the quality of the relationship (QR) that a parent develops with the teenager.
After all, what better present can parents give their children than that of themselves? Nothing can beat the pleasure of a true and loving human relationship, a factor that is often overlooked in the increasingly complex and pressurized world in which we live.
The findings of various studies on parent-teen relationships have supported the concept of Relationship Theory. A comprehensive research brief published by Child Trends, entitled Parent-Teen Relationships and Interactions Far More Positive Than Not, showed a direct correlation between the quality of the parent-teen relationship and the impact the relationship has on a teenager’s life.
The research showed that positive and warm parent-child relationships were associated with more positive childhood and youth outcomes. Conversely, relationships that were less positive and warm were linked to less desirable childhood and youth outcomes. This pattern persisted across diverse populations, regions, and even countries.
The research brief revealed that:
- “Children and teens who have positive relationships with their parents tend to have better academic outcomes.”
- “Good relations between parents and adolescents lessen the likelihood that teens will exhibit problem behaviors.”
- “High-quality parent-adolescent relationships have been linked repeatedly to mental, social, and emotional well-being in adolescents and youth.”
- “Better quality adult child-parent relationships have been associated with lower levels of psychological distress among both adult children and parents.”
- “Close relationships with parents during childhood and adolescence have been positively associated with adult children’s self-esteem, happiness, and life satisfaction.”
- “Positive mental and physical health in adulthood is positively associated with recollections of early parental support.”
Building the relationship is often one of the most overlooked aspects of parenting teenagers; yet clearly, as the evidence suggests, the relationship is the key to managing a teenager’s at-risk behavior and restoring confidence in the family unit.
Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, MA, is the Executive Director of Shalom Task Force and author of “At Risk – Never Beyond Reach” and “First Aid for Jewish Marriages.” To order a copy, visit www.JewishMarriageSupport.com. For more information about Shalom Task Force, please visit www.shalomtaskforce.org. You can e-mail questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.