Got Weekend Plans? Here’s an idea

Photo by Alvin Balemesa

Spend time with your kids.

No, really.

Research released this month from Penn State led by Susan McHale sheds new light on the importance of parents and adolescents spending time together. Culturally we assume kids want to spend less time with their parents in the teenage years. But this research discovered that our assumptions might not be helpful.

While teenagers certainly may want to spend less public time with their parents, they may actually want to spend more private time together. This private time with parents—especially with fathers in this study—is connected with higher self-esteem and social confidence.

While based on a small sample of white middle- and working-class teenagers and their families, this 7-year longitudinal study tracked kids from age 11 to age 18. We can’t extrapolate that these findings apply to all teenagers in all kinds of families. But we can look at our own family and wonder aloud about the actual time we spend together.

In the midst of fall activities and the start of school, what kind of time are we carving out to be together in this season? It’s a question worth asking; maybe even this weekend.