Don”t keep mum! How arguing with your mother is a good thing and stops teens going off the rails
Being a rebellious teenager can be a good thing: Kathy Burke and Harry Enfield as Kevin & Perry
Argumentative teenagers might be right up there with moaning mother-in-laws on a list of the world”s biggest annoyances… but humour your children by arguing back – it will help make them more personable adults.
Child psychologists revealed today that disagreements between teenagers and their mothers can prevent the youngsters from turning to drink and drugs.
Older children who are more open and candid with their mothers are less likely to bow to peer pressure when it comes to alcohol and narcotics, they found.
But it is disagreements rather than a heart to heart that helps them the most, said the study by university researchers for the journal Child Development.
If they can stand up to mum in a row about a girlfriend or boyfriend or poor grades then they are more likely to resist peer pressure. And it is certainly better preparation to have the occasional disagreement than simply shut up and not engage in face to face conversations at all, psychologists suggest.
It works best when the argument is with a mother rather than father, other family member or friend though. This is because teenagers tend to use more reasoned arguments when being told off by a mother but resort to shouting, insults, or “whining” with others, said the study.
Child psychologists from the University of Virginia analysed the behaviour of both teenagers – studied progressively from aged 13 to 16 – and their parents.
The study found: “Teens who more openly express their own viewpoints in discussions with their mums, even if their viewpoints disagree, are more likely than others to resist peer pressure to use drugs or drink.
“Teens who hold their own in family discussions were better at standing up to peer influences to use drugs or alcohol.
“Among the best protected were teens who had learned to argue well with their mums about such topics as grades, money, household rules, and friends.”
Arguing with your mother means that you are more likely to have the strength to not bow to peer pressure over drink and drugs, the report found (file photo)
But while it suggests having disagreements can help, the important point is the regular contact with a parent and a mother in particular, said the researchers.
It is no good having a blazing row and then not speaking, for instance because an open and honest relationship with their mums help them deal with their friends.
The report added: “Teens who are secure in their ability to turn to their mothers under stress are less likely to end up feeling overly dependent upon close friends.
“Thus, they are less likely to be influenced by a friend”s behavior when it”s negative.”