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Strong adolescent-parent interactions, according to researchers, are associated with improved long-term wellness in young adults

Past research has shown that positive relationships between adolescents and adults yield improved mental health, sexual health, and reduces the risks of substance abuse. Unfortunately, such studies have generally been restricted by small sample sizes, short-term results, variances in measures for parent-adolescent relationship traits, a lack of cultural diversity, and a focus on solely relationships with mothers instead of those with mothers and/or fathers. Senior study author  Carol A. Ford, MD states that “Our goal was to establish a clearer understanding of how different characteristics of mother-adolescent and father-adolescent relationships might be associated with a high range of favorable outcomes in young adulthood.” This study, published in Jama Network Open, is one of the largest and longest running of its kind. (Associations, 2023)

Researchers from The Children’s Hospital of  Philadelphia (CHOP) examined information from more than 15,000 individuals who first participated in the study in the mid-1990s. Parental warmth, communication, time together, and academic expectations were looked at from when participants were between 12 and 17. The same people were asked to describe their levels of stress, sadness, optimism, nicotine dependency, drug misuse, and other general health indicators when they were between the ages of 24 and 32. (Associations, 2023)

Positive elements of mother-adolescent and father-adolescent interactions were associated with considerably higher levels of overall health in early adulthood. Participants also reported greater levels of optimism and higher quality romantic relationships – as well as lower levels of stress or depressive symptoms. Researchers observed a decrease in nicotine dependence, drug addiction, and the risk of unwanted pregnancy. “The overall pattern of these results suggests strong relationships between adolescents and their mothers and fathers leads to better health and well-beging in young adulthood,” Ford concludes. According to her and her team of researchers, making efforts to develop parent-adolescent interactions can indeed have long-term beneficial health effects. (Associations, 2023)

Journal Reference:

  1. Carol A. Ford, Andrew C. Pool, Nicole F. Kahn, James Jaccard, Carolyn T. Halpern. Associations Between Mother-Adolescent and Father-Adolescent Relationships and Young Adult Health. JAMA Network Open, 2023; 6 (3): e233944 DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.3944
  2. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Researchers find strong adolescent-parent relationships lead to better long-term health outcomes in young adults: Based on thousands of adolescents who were followed over a period of more than a decade, this new work represents one of the largest studies on parent-adolescent relationships.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 March 2023.  <>.
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