A recent study from Pennsylvania State University found that teens who spent more time alone with their fathers had higher self-esteem and the more time they spent with their dads in a group setting, the better their social skills. The study, published in the Journal of Child Development, found that kids spend less and less time with their parents in group settings as they go through their preteen and teenage years. However, one-on-one time increases up until about age 12 and then stays relatively flat before starting to decline a bit around age 15.
The study also found that, although time with mom is indicative of overall functionality of the teen, it does not directly impact the teen’s self-esteem the same way it does with dad. The researchers suggest that this may be due to the fact that the “mother’s role as caregiver is so scripted that her involvement can easily go unnoticed and unacknowledged”. In contrast to this, the study says, fathers tend to engage in more “joking, teasing, and other playful interactions, and were more involved in leisure activities and peer-like interaction” with their teens, which it describes as “crucial for youth social development.”
James Smithers, President and Founder of Polaris Counseling, says this, “this study bolsters previous research showing that parents who spend time with their kids tend to see less delinquent behaviors and greater resistance to peer pressure in the teenage years. Although the focus of this study highlights the impact of fathers on teenage self-esteem, it is important to understand that both parents, as well as grandparents, older siblings, aunts and uncles, and any other positive adult role model can have a huge impact on a teen’s self-esteem and social development. The key here, is quality time. In the process of deliberately and intentionally putting time aside to spend with your teen (regardless of their interest level!) you are sending a loud and clear message… “I’m interested in you!” The more positive and functional adults sending that message, the higher the self-esteem. Quite simple really. So families, get out their with your teens and go build some self-esteem together!”