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'They'll come back': Study tackles tricky teen-parent relationships

A new study tackles the common challenge parents often face in raising teenagers.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A new study tackles the common challenge parents often face in raising teenagers.

According to Joe Austerman, a doctor at Cleveland Clinic Children's, the teenage years are a time of trial and error as they discover what means to get older. Mutual feelings of connection and understanding are key to their future as healthy adults.

"Having strong, safe bonds where you can learn and practice these skills confers a better benefit to you later on in life because you've learned skills to interact with others," Austerman said. "So you're more effective at it."

Austerman commented on a study in the journal Pediatrics about the importance of parents connecting with their teens.

According to the study, teens need parents to provide a "safe space" where they can make mistakes and learn socialization skills. Without those learning opportunities, they may struggle later in life.

It's important for teens to feel understood during a time when they are trying to create their own identity, Austerman said. It's best when parents can be their teens' sounding boards and let them know that they are there for them.

"Parents always feel as if their teens are growing farther away from them, that they're permanently losing these bonds," Austerman said. "But being there and consistently understanding and trying to connect with them will pay off when they're adults. They'll come back -- trust me."

The study also shows teens who had better connections with family and at school had as much as 66 percent lower odds of engaging in health-risk behaviors and experiences in adulthood.


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