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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

It is Not My Fault!

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Science Daily published a great article early in August called "Today's Parents Not To Blame For Teenage Problem Behavior," about a longitudinal Oxford Study (with UK families) that concluded that there was no evidence of a general decline in parenting and that poor parenting was not the reason for an increase in problem behavior among teens.

I have to say it made me laugh. How nice of those researchers to alleviate any sense of guilt parents may be experiencing about their teens, especially given that parenting seems to be getting more stressful and difficult with each generation. Teens are living with parents longer, in fact most children live with their parents until well into their 20's, a college education is pretty much required "to get ahead," and the increase in technology means that teens are exposed to the real world at younger and younger ages.

The research acknowledges that parents of teenagers are increasingly more likely to report symptoms of depression and anxiety, especially single parents and those with low incomes, in fact, it is about a 50% increase in the last 20 years.

The article also acknowledges that there is an increase in both adolescent conduct and emotional problems over the last 25 years, but then it says that parents are doing a better job of knowing where their kids are and what they are doing (which is known to predict fewer risky behaviors), so that cannot be the problem.

So, if teens are experiencing more conduct and emotional problems, and parents are more depressed and anxious, how can it be that "everything is OK?" The article does not tell us what is causing the slide into unhappiness, just assures parents that it is not their parenting doing it! I feel better, don't you?
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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