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Teens and Family

A teenager’s home life can have a considerable impact on the teen’s academic performance, peer relationships, and other critical aspects of adolescence. The teen years also tend to be difficult for a person and his or her immediate family. According to SAMHSA, about 28 percent of teens who receive mental health services do so because of problems at home.

Emotional Support

Emotional support from parents or guardians can help teens work through difficulties in a positive manner; however, a number of conflicts can arise between teens and their parents because of differences in views and emotional maturity levels. For this reason and others, some teens seek emotional support from their peers instead of their families.

Although peer support is often beneficial, it has the potential to be detrimental. A teen who cannot find emotional support at home may be more easily influenced to cope with troubles in harmful ways, such as with drug and alcohol abuse. When parents and guardians work to keep communication lines with their teens open and positive, they are in a better position to provide guidance and help as needed.

Confiding in Parents

Talking with parents can be difficult for a variety of reasons, especially if the parents are struggling with issues of their own. However, it can also be an opportunity to gain insight and help with problems that peers are unable to help with. Without asking, a teen may not know that his or her parent dealt with a similar problem and can provide sound advice for handling it effectively.
Teens who are not comfortable talking with their parents should consider turning to a teacher, counselor, or other trusted adult for support and assistance as needed. If a teen and his or her parents have difficulties talking with each other, another option is to have a counselor facilitate the discussions and help the family develop stronger communication skills.

Conflicts With Siblings

Relationships with siblings can be the most supportive relationships that people have in life, but it is common for siblings to have fights, especially during the teen years. Siblings tend to be competitive with each other, and this can result in one feeling as if he or she is always being picked on. The teen years are also a time when individuality is being asserted, which can cause rifts in sibling relationships.

When a sibling rivalry occurs, it is important for the family to set strict boundaries. For example, parents can make it a rule that neither sibling is allowed to touch the other’s belongings. Teenagers can also make an effort to try to identify with their brothers and sisters. A younger teen may benefit from the support an older brother or sister can provide. If the conflicts become too intense or harmful, such as if they escalate to physical violence, counseling can help the family overcome the problem.

Maintaining Close Relationships

Because structure and guidance are so crucial during the teen years, it is important that families try to maintain close relationships with their teens. Structure and guidance can help prevent problems such as teen alcohol abuse and help adolescents deal with common issues such as bullying. Teens can spend time with friends and still have time to devote to homework, chores and family activities. Creating a routine can help all involved find a healthy balance.

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