Close Relationships to Family During Adolescence Leads to Healthy Adult Life
Teens who feel that they are valuable to their families or have a close bond with one or more family members grew up to be more successful adults, according to the Simmons Longitudinal Study that was recently completed. This study followed teens from age 15 to 30, and was lead by Professor Helen Reinherz from the Simmons School of Social Work and Dr. Angela Paradis from the Harvard School of Public Health.
The study shows that teens who felt valued by their families during their adolescence showed fewer interpersonal problems, higher overall self-esteem, and were less likely to use tobacco by age 30. Family confidantes also lead to healthier adults, with a drop in the risk for suicidal thoughts, drug abuse, and other problems at age 30. From this information, the study’s authors have concluded that programs that work to build stronger relationships between families and their teenage children are crucial for increasing the number of healthy, highly functioning adults.
There has been a great push to examine the influence of peers upon adolescent children, but this study reveals that peers are not the only people who affect how a teenager grows up and views the world. The family remains important to a teen, even while they are building peer relationships. Strong family relationships helped provide a buffer between the growing child and the potential triggers of the outside world. This buffer seems to prevent the risk of substance use and mental health problems from rising during adolescence, which directly correlates to the health of that person as an adult.
The Simmons Longitudinal study has tracked over 400 people from 1977 to 2010, recording the changes in their behavior and outlook towards the world from kindergarten to their late 30’s. These results are giving mental and public health experts new insight into what shapes a healthy adult life.