Strong Adolescent-Parent Relationships Lead To Better Health And Well-Being

May 30, 2023; Unhurry Expert Research Team

Adolescents who report strong relationships with their parents have better long-term health outcomes say researchers of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Study findings suggest that investments in improving parent–adolescent relationships could help improve general health, mental health, and sexual health while also reducing substance use in young adulthood.

Research, that was published in JAMA Network Open, suggests that investments in improving parent-adolescent relationships could help improve general health, mental health, and sexual, health while also reducing substance use in young adulthood.

How was the parent-adolescent relationship assessed?

According to earlier studies, having healthy parent-adolescent interactions is linked to better mental, sexual, and general health, as well as a lower chance of substance misuse and cardiovascular problems. However, these studies have often been limited by small sample sizes, short-term outcomes, differing measures for parent-adolescent relationship characteristics, lack of diversity, and a focus only on relationships with mothers rather than relationships with mothers and fathers.

To help address these issues, this study utilized data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Researchers looked at the relationship between health outcomes examined 14 years later and the details that teenagers reported about their interactions with the mother and father figures they live with. More than 15,000 adults who were first enrolled in the study in the middle of the 1990s, when they were between the ages of 12 and 17, had their data examined by the researchers.

What are the different characteristics of parent-adolescent relationships?

“Our goal was to establish a clearer understanding of how different characteristics of mother-adolescent and father-adolescent relationships might be associated with a wide range of favorable outcomes in young adulthood,” said senior study author Carol A. Ford, MD, Chief of the Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine, and the Orton P. Jackson Endowed Chair in Adolescent Medicine at CHOP.

Researchers in this study examined traits such reported parental warmth, communication, time spent together, and academic expectations as determined while the participants were between the ages of 12 and 17. When those same participants were 24 to 32 years old, they reported on current levels of stress, depression, optimism, nicotine dependence and substance abuse, and other measures of general health. The study controlled for age, race, ethnicity, family structure, and other factors and separated the data based on relationships with mother and father figures who lived in the home. More than 10,000 participants were analyzed for the study.

Better relationships boost optimism and lowers stress

The results of the study showed that participants’ general health in their adolescent years was significantly higher when they reported higher levels of warmth, communication, time spent together, academic expectations, relationship or communication satisfaction, and inductive discipline between their parents.

Similarly, they reported significantly higher levels of optimism and romantic relationship quality and lower levels of stress and depressive symptoms as young adults. Higher levels of adolescent-reported parental warmth, time together, and relationship or communication satisfaction were also significantly associated with lower levels of nicotine dependence and substance abuse in young adulthood as well as lower odds of unintended pregnancy.

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“The overall pattern of these results suggests strong relationships between adolescents and their mothers and fathers leads to better health and well-being in young adulthood,” Ford said. “Efforts to strengthen parent-adolescent relationships may have important long-term health benefits.”

This study was supported by grant 60721 from the John Templeton Foundation to the Research Core of the Center for Parent and Teen Communication at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This study was also supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services under grant T7IMC30798 Leadership Education in Adolescent Health. Research was also supported by grant P2C HD050924 from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

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

Page citation:

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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