Sure, it’s easy to see why teens need to have the support of their parents, friends, teachers, and peers for their emotional and psychological well being. Perhaps it’s not so easy to see that parents and caregivers need that same kind of support too. A new study suggests that it’s important that mothers and fathers of teens receive parent support. Although it might be reasonable for a new parent of an infant to seek out support from friends and professionals, this study published in the Family Process Journal indicates that social support is just as necessary for parents of teens as well. Read on to learn more about the results from the study and discover ways in which parents can receive support for parenting teens.
Social Supports for Parents
The study mentioned above followed 636 two-parent families in rural settings and measured how their use of social supports influenced their parenting. The parents completed a series of questionnaires and in-person interviews. The results of the study included the following:
- Greater social supports for parents resulted in an increase in parent-child warmth.
- Greater social support for parents resulted in a decrease in parent-child hostility.
- When parents have the support they need they tend to have closer relationships with their teens. This proved to be particularly true for mothers. Social support had a significant impact on parenting, and this is especially true when mothers feel overwhelmed and out of control.
The teen years are emotionally challenging for parents. Frequently, teens are pulling away and ready to feel more and more adult-like. Simultaneously, parents want to hang on and have a hard time giving their teen the independence they’re asking for. This emotional tug-of-war can be taxing on family relationships, especially for mothers.
In fact, parenting a teen as a mother can be a very different experience from parenting a teen as a father. Mothers often seek respect from their teens while also seeking to keep their teens happy. Fathers don’t always understand the emotional place that mothers come from, and this can be challenging on mothers and fathers who strive to parent together as a team. These are important reasons to seek parent support (whether it’s from a professional, a friend, or a trusted neighbor) on the challenges of parenting teens.
Types of Social Support
Whether parents are on the same team or not, there are some significant issues that parents face when raising teens, and it can sometimes be impossible to do it alone. For example, during adolescence, parents may need to help their teen with:
- online addiction
- excessive social media use
- drugs and alcohol
- college applications
- anger or violent behavior
- independent living skills
These are just a handful of issues parents might face. As you may already know, some adolescent issues simply require outside assistance. If you are a parent and you believe that you need parent support to in turn support your teen, here are a few different types of support you might find useful:
- Educational groups on parenting styles and how to raise adolescents.
- Parent support groups where participants can share and process their feelings about parenting.
- Connect with a network of parents that share the same challenge or issue.
- Articles and books can be informative and can be their own source of support.
Although articles and books can be incredibly useful, parents should keep in mind that support offering emotional processing and connection around parenting might be the most beneficial.
Benefits of Seeking Social Support
There are many reasons why a parent might want to seek out a support group, parenting group, or other means of support. The following is a short list of some of them:
- Parents can feel less alone.
- Parents might form new friendships.
- Parents may hear about resources and tools from other parents.
- Parents might feel supported, heard, and understood by others.
- Parents can vent to someone who understands.
- Parents might feel more and more appreciation for their teen.
- Parents can share their accomplishments with other parents.
- Parents have a place to share their frustrations versus keeping them to themselves.
Also, perhaps the greatest benefit is the enhanced relationship parents build with their teens. Remember the study above – when parents have the emotional support they need, they tend to have warmer connections and stronger relationships with their adolescents.
Where to Find Parent Support
One way to find parent support is to read blogs, buy books, and review the posts from other parents on social media sites. Here are a few suggestions for finding support right now:
- Check out a blog on Raising Teens. Two mothers of teens started this blog to help begin a conversation on teen parenting while at the same time seek and give support to others.
- Read a book on the importance of self care for parents. The Self-Care Solution: A Modern Mother’s Must-Have Guide to Health and Well-Being was written by author and mother Julia Burton.
- Join an online network. The Special Moms Network is a group of parents of special needs children and teens.
- Call a parent helpline. The National Parent Helpline gives parents phone support for whatever issue they may be facing.
- Find a parent support group in your neighborhood. The Parents Universal Resource Experts (PURE) provide a list of support groups for parents struggling with raising teens.
Once you’ve explored these resources, remember that you can also seek out educational groups and perhaps even work one on one with a parenting expert. In fact, many psychotherapists specialize in parenting teens.
Support for Parents Means Support for Teens
As mentioned already, when parents get the support they need there is a greater likelihood that they will have stronger relationships with their teens. This benefit is not to be overlooked. With a stronger parent-teen relationship, teens are more likely to go to their parents when they face a challenge. They may be likely to seek advice from their parents and seek comfort from them when under stress. This means that when parents get the support they need, teens also feel supported.