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Improving Father-Teen Relationships

father-teenFather’s Day is around the corner, and new research has just provided insights for enhancing balance among fathers and their adolescent children.[1] San Francisco State University professor Dr. Jeff Cookston found that when an adolescent is having an argument with their father and seeks out others for help, the response he or she receives improves well-being and father-teen relationships.1 Adolescents who receive a reason for their father’s behavior or a better understanding of who is at fault, feel better about themselves and their father.1

In the study, Cookston explains that the findings represent a concept called “guided cognitive reframing,” or how a teen benefits from talking to someone about conversations with their father.1

“There has been a lot of evidence suggesting that talking to people about conflict is a good thing for adolescents,” said Cookston. “What we did for the first time was look at what actually happens when they talk to someone.”1

Cookston and colleagues surveyed 392 families about adolescents’ conflicts with their co-resident fathers and stepfathers.1 Parents and children were asked who was sought out for support and how frequently, how often those individuals explained the father’s behavior or blamed the fathers for the conflict, and how the adolescents felt about themselves and their fathers after the reframing.1

It was found that mothers were most sought-out for reframing, followed by a non-parental figure, such as a friend or a non-parental family member.1 After that, it was biological fathers and, lastly, stepfathers.1 However, how often an adolescent seeks out a specific source for support does not have an impact on their well-being.1 Instead, it is the quality of the reframing that drives how they feel following the conversation.1

“When kids get explanations and good reasons that  fit with the world they see, it helps them feel better,” said Cookston. “It’s sometimes hard to change how adolescents feel about situations, but we can talk to them about how they think about those situations. Adolescence is a time of physiological changes in the brain and in the way a child sees and interprets the world. We can use this time to help them understand relationships the same way we expect them to learn and understand, for example, geometry or algebra.”1



[1] Nauert, R. (2014). Tips to Improve Father-Teen Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/06/09/tips-to-improve-father-teen-relationships/71018.html

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