Turns out, parents may help prepare children for healthier, less-violent romantic relationships.
A Penn State study found that when adolescents reported a positive family climate and their parents using more effective parenting strategies, like providing reasons for decisions and refraining from harsh punishments, those adolescents tended to go on to have better relationship problem-solving skills and less-violent romantic relationships as young adults.
Researcher Mengya Xia said that the results gave an insight on how early family relationships could have long-term impacts on young adult romantic relationships.
“During adolescence, you’re starting to figure out what you want in a relationship and to form the skills you need to have successful relationships,” Xia said. “The family relationship is the first intimate relationship of your life, and you apply what you learn to later relationships. It’s also where you may learn how to constructively communicate or perhaps the inverse, to yell and scream — when you have a disagreement. Those are the skills you learn from the family and you will apply in later relationships.”
Xia said that the ability to form close relationships was an important skill for adolescents and young adults to learn.
The researchers found that a positive family climate and effective parenting in adolescence were associated with better problem-solving skills in young adults’ romantic relationships. Additionally, kids who had more positive engagement with their parents during adolescence reported feeling more love and connection in their young adult relationships.
The researchers also found that a more cohesive and organised family climate and more effective parenting during adolescence was associated with a lower risk of violence in young adult relationships.
“In the study, we saw kids who were more assertive had better problem-solving skills in their later relationships, which is so important,” Xia said. “If you can’t solve a problem constructively, you may turn to negative strategies, which could include violence. So I think it’s important to promote constructive problem solving as a way to avoid or diminish the possibility of someone resorting to destructive strategies in a relationship.”
The study is published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.