Note to parents: Don’t get upset when your teen argues with you. It’s a good thing.
A new study finds teens who back down during arguments with their mothers often struggle to resist peer pressure.
Researchers at the University of Virginia followed about 150 adolescents and their moms of varying ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.
At the age of 13, researchers observed two conservations between the parent and child – one where the mother and child discuss contentious issues such as grades or household rules; the other where the child asks the mother for advice with problems. In the first conversation the researchers checked to see how often the children backed down without appearing to have won the argument. In the second conversation, the researchers rated the mother’s warmth, support and positivity.
By age 15 and 16, teens who received less support from their mothers and backed down more easily in the argument were more likely to be influenced by drug and alcohol use among friends.
“The healthy autonomy they’d established at home seemed to carry over into their relationships with peers,” suggested Joseph P. Allen, Hugh P. Kelly Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, who led the study.
The study also found that teens who had formed good relationships with their parents and their peers were more likely to resist peer influences related to substance use.
Findings were published in the journal Child Development. The study followed the interactions with mothers because children tend to spend more time with their moms, but researchers said the findings would also apply to fathers.