Study co-author Susan McHale, director of the Social Science Research Institute at the Pennsylvania State University, studied the stereotype of teens growing apart from their parents and spending less time with them. The researchers captured the everyday experiences of families by examining changes in the amount of time youths spent with their parents from early to late adolescence.
On five occasions during a seven-year period they conducted home and phone interviews with moms, dads and the two oldest children in almost 200 white, middle- and working-class families living in small cities, towns and rural communities. The teens reported on their social skills with peers and their general sense of self-worth.
The study, published in the journal Child Development, found that although parent-teen time when others were also present declined from the early to late teen years, parent-teen time with just the parent and the teen present increased in early and middle adolescence -- a finding that contradicts the stereotype of teens growing apart from their parents.
"This suggests that, while adolescents become more separate from their families, they continue to have one-on-one opportunities to maintain close relationships with their parents," McHale said in a statement.