Parents: Keep at it! Study shows parental support has more influence on well-being from primary school through college than previously thought
11/14/2017 // Zoey Sky // Views

Parenting doesn't end at providing a roof over your children's heads and giving them an education. Based on a recent study, parenting can also help influence the well-being of adolescents all the way to university.

The study, which was made possible with funding from the Academy of Finland, revealed that parental support for the self-regulation of adolescents helped improve their well-being during all major educational transitions: from primary to lower secondary school, from basic education to upper secondary school, and from upper secondary school to university.

Professor Katariina Salmela-Aro shared that autonomous support from mothers and fathers significantly prevented depression during all three transitions, and even increased the self-esteem of individuals during the final two transitions. (Related: Holistic Parenting for Lifelong Health and Happiness.)

The results remained significant even as a child grew older. Salmela-Aro said, “In the past, it was thought that parents only play an important role during childhood, but this research demonstrates their importance during adolescence and even young adulthood.”

While it was initially believed that the relevance of self-regulation was only associated with well-being and achievements in life, these new findings reveal that individuals show “a strong and interactive, regulative effect on each other's well-being.” It's not just children who benefit from good parenting. A child's well-being will also affect their parent's well-being, and it seems that adolescents have a bigger role when it comes to parenting. When children aren't doing as well as they should, their parents' support for their autonomy declines.


But Salmela-Aro added, "However, from the perspective of young peoples' well-being, it would be important for parents to provide more support in such cases, because autonomy support has been shown to reduce depression."

Children raised by alcoholic parents often have abusive or violent relationships in their teens

Alcoholism doesn't just affect the alcoholic. A separate study, which was published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, has shown that adolescents who were raised by alcoholic parents could have a greater chance of being a part of abusive or violent relationships as teenagers.

Because children experience these issues at a young age, it can greatly affect their formative preschool years and middle childhood. The results of the study, which took place in the U.S., looked into the state of adolescents with fathers who had a drinking disorder.

The results showed that homes with alcoholics experienced more marital conflict and that mothers with partners who had alcohol problems were often depressed. These mothers also showed less affection towards their children, and these two factors could severely impact an adolescent's “ability to regulate their emotions and behavior.”

Dr. Jennifer Livingston, from the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions in New York, who was also the lead author of the study, shared, “Although teen dating violence is typically viewed as a problem related specifically to adolescent development, our findings indicate that the risk for aggressive behaviour and involvement in dating violence are related to stressors experienced much earlier in life.”

Livingston et al. studied 144 teenagers who, from 12 months onwards, had fathers who were heavy drinkers. The researchers analyzed data collected regularly throughout the life of these teenagers, and they isolated factors that resulted in several of the teens being involved in abusive relationships.

It appears that family dynamics occurring in the preschool years and in middle childhood are critical in the development of aggression and dating violence in the teenage years,” shared Dr. Livingston. But this wasn't caused by the teenagers' relationships with their fathers alone. Since mothers who had alcoholic partners end up becoming depressed, they often did not have healthy interactions with their children starting from infancy.

Because they are unable to control their own behavior, children raised in homes with alcoholic parents are shown to have higher levels of aggression during early and middle childhood. Dr. Livingston elaborated, “This is significant because children with warm and sensitive mothers are better able to regulate their emotions and behavior.”

The study also revealed that adolescents who are more aggressive in childhood and in their interactions with their siblings are also more likely to be aggressive with their romantic partners in their teen years. “Our research suggests the risk for violence can be lessened when parents are able to be more warm and sensitive in their interactions with their children during the toddler years... This in turn can reduce marital conflict and increase the children's self-control, and ultimately reduce involvement in aggressive behavior,' concluded Dr. Livingston.

Read more articles on parenting and adolescent behavior at

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