Parents’ Behaviour Influences Whether Their Children Have Healthy, Non-Violent Relationships Later In Life

Parents who are nurturing pass along strategies for building and maintaining positive relationships


Kelleigh Korevaar |

Many parents have spent hours wondering why their child is in the relationship they are in, racking their brains trying to come up with an answer. The reason they come up empty is simple; they’re not looking at themselves, and a study has shown they should be. Whether a child has a healthy relationship or not is up to – no, not the child themselves – it’s you; the parents.

A study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence has found that adolescents who have a positive family environment with parents who used effective parenting skills had less violent romantic relationships as well as better relationship problem-solving skills as young adults.

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There were 4 factors that researchers monitored in children between the grade 6 and 9 by:

  1. The family environment – whether they get along and support each other or fight regularly.
  2. The parents’ strategies for disciplining their children – such as avoiding harsh punishments, giving their children reasons for their decisions, and how harsh and consistent they were.
  3. How assertive the parents were
  4. Whether the children had positive interactions with their parents

“During adolescence, you’re starting to figure out what you want in a relationship and to form the skills you need to have successful relationships,” Xia, one of the researchers, said. “The family relationship is the first intimate relationship of your life, and you apply what you learn to later relationships. It’s also where you may learn how to constructively communicate — or perhaps the inverse, to yell and scream — when you have a disagreement. Those are the skills you learn from the family and you will apply in later relationships.”

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Once the participants became young adults (around 19 years old), they were asked about their romantic relationships. Questions included the love they felt for their partner, their ability to constructively solve problems in their relationship and whether they were ever violent, physically or verbally, towards their partner.

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The researchers found that effective parenting skills and a positive family environment during their child’s adolescent years was linked to better problem solving skills in their romantic relationships when they became young adults.

Adolescents who had positive engagement with their parents reported feeling more love and connection in their relationships. The young adults had less violent and volatile relationships when there was a cohesive and organized family environment along with effective parenting.

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This means that parents should be focusing on the four factors mentioned above; they can be used as a parent’s 4-point relationship rulebook. “Monkey see, monkey do” is a popular saying parents say to their children and it may ring true in areas they may not even realize.

The point is that parents are more responsible than they may believe for their children’s relationships. So, next time you take away your child’s phone and respond to their queries as to why, with a “because I said so”, remember that you may be doing harm in the long run.

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