Parental Involvement With Teenagers

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As a teen’s brain develops, he gains the ability to reason, think logically and better understand cause and effect. However, the frontal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for helping a person comprehend long-term consequences and control impulses, doesn’t fully develop until late adolescence, according to Clea McNeely, who has a doctorate in public health, and Jayne Blanchard in the publication “The Teen Years Explained” on the Johns Hopkins University website. By providing a supportive and caring environment, control and consistency, a parent can help ensure a teen’s health and success as he seeks independence and a sense of self.

Reduced Teen Pregnancy

  • About 750,000 teens between ages 15 and 19 get pregnant each year, writes Cindy Bond-Zielinski in the Ohio State University online publication “Parental Involvement Can Reduce the Risk of Teen Pregnancy.” When parents talk to young teens about sexual activity and encourage them to practice abstinence until a later age, the risk of teen pregnancy decreases. If a parent is aware that her teen is sexually active, she can help reduce the risk of pregnancy by supporting contraceptive methods. While parental involvement and support are important, Bond-Zielinski says, it’s vital that parents model behaviors such as responsibility that they expect their teens to follow.

Reduced Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Use

  • A teen who has a close relationship with at least one parent is less likely to use drugs, tobacco and alcohol, according to the Council of Economic Advisers’ report “Teens and Their Parents in the 21st Century” on the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration’s website. A teen who doesn’t feel close to his parents is twice as likely to drink and smoke tobacco or marijuana, especially if he’s between ages 12 and 14. The report states that teens who have close relationships with their parents generally eat dinner together at least five times a week. When family meals are difficult to plan, parents can encourage other forms of quality time that allow them and their teens to talk.

Improved Academic Performance

  • As teens grow more independent, parents tend to become less involved in academics. The Minnesota Parent Center, in the Pacer.org article “Parents Play Vital Role in Teenagers’ Education,” says that parental involvement is critical during middle and high school. The Council of Economic Advisers reports that teens who have close relationships with their parents are more likely to get good grades, especially in math and science, and to go to college. This is particularly true among older teens, as they are 30 percent more likely to have a positive outlook about pursuing higher education.

Improved Communication

  • A parent has more influence over a teen when the young person feels comfortable disclosing information about himself. To create an environment that encourages open communication, a parent must set clear expectations and reasonable limits, according to the publication “Parental Influence over Teen Risk-Taking” on State Farm’s Smart Risk website. A parent must be clear about consequences. When a teen is in a structured environment, he is more likely to open up if he believes it’s a safe and simple thing to do. A parent can foster open communication by listening and responding to a teen with empathy instead of with unsolicited advice or criticism. The Smart Risk publication says parental involvement and open communication reduce “maladaptive risk-taking behaviors,” especially when parents lead by example.

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