Growing Pains Part 2: Spending time with children, teens


Teenagers will began to lean on friends and slowly pull away from parents. It is the natural part of growing up. Children relish spending time with mom and dad — but down the line — dad’s jokes grow stale, mom’s warnings become hackneyed and teenagers need their space. The time spent between teens and parents may be diminished, but should not be cut completely.

Spending time as a family is an important part of development. While it is important to have some alone time to decompress, spending time with family reinforces home is the hub, a safe haven and shelter of support. Many parents struggle to find a balance of how much time is the proper amount of time to spend with their kids.

Not enough time

A 2015 study explores the possible connection between mothers and the time they spend with children. The study is published in the scientific journal “Marriage and Family,” and reviews the effects on children development in time spent with mom. In the study, mothers record the time spent with their children in a journal. The researchers find, “In childhood and adolescence, the amount of maternal time did not matter for offspring behaviors, emotions, or academics.”

This does not mean there are no benefits in spending time with parents for children. In the stage of adolescence, the study also finds, “More engaged maternal time was related to fewer delinquent behaviors, and engaged time with parents together was related to better outcomes.” The decrease in delinquent behaviors could simply be due in part to being under parental supervision, but can also result from positive parental interaction.

Too much time

Teenagers have a stronger sense of autonomy and will desire to distance themselves from their parents. A study from Brigham Young University – BYU — finds some benefits of interaction between parents and adolescents on social media. Sarah Coyne, Ph.D. and lead author of the study, explains in an interview, “The more frequently parents used social media to interact with teens, the stronger the connection.”

Naturally, parents overusing social media to spy on and interact with their children will have negative results. “You don’t want to be the parent who posts embarrassing pictures of your kid all the time or makes snarky comments,” Coyne responds, touching on the fears many teens have in regard to parents on social media.

In some situations, spending too much time monitoring a child will push them away — building up resentment to a lack of privacy and individuality. The quality of the time spent together in person and through contact or conversations will help to benefit the teen’s behavior and mood. Listening to the teen will help to point out any issues or behavioral problems they are dealing with.

White River Academy provides treatment and care for troubled boys from ages 12 to 17. The academy follows a boarding school format, offering guidance through a disciplined education program and instilling character values through service projects to promote positive growth. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.

Growing Pains Part 3: What drives children to run away

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