Parental Boundaries Work

Posted on: 02/11/10 9:25 AM | by Jonathan McKee

For the last few weeks you’ve been hearing me chime in quite a bit about the new Kaiser Family Foundation media consumption report (kids now average 7 hrs and 38 minutes a day consuming entertainment media). For the last two weeks we’ve seen articles on the subject popping up like prairie dogs. Earlier this week, USA TODAY’s Health & Behavior section featured one that I think is worth peeking at.

The article’s title says is well: Teens do better with parents who set limits. (Rather apropos, considering this week’s Youth Culture Window article on our web page, “Dad, Can I Download This Song?”) The USA TODAY article contends that parents who keep setting boundaries make a huge difference.

Some of the highlights:

…And it doesn’t stop with screen time. Other recent studies have found:

•Teens who had a bedtime of 10 p.m. or earlier, set by parents, got more sleep and were less likely to be depressed or consider suicide than those allowed to stay up past midnight. (The study was published in Sleep in January.)

•Teen drivers whose parents set and enforced rules were more likely to wear seat belts and less likely to speed, get in crashes, drink and drive, or use cellphones while driving. (That study was in Pediatrics in September.)

Teens whose parents set rules also smoke less, delay sex and do better in school, research shows.

“The reality is that teenagers care deeply what their parents think,” says Kenneth Ginsburg, author of the driving study and a specialist in adolescent medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The challenge for parents is to get across rules and boundaries in a way that doesn’t feel controlling.”

In the driving study, as in many other studies, the most effective parents were those researchers call “authoritative.” They set firm rules but explain and enforce them in a warm, supportive way. Parents who set no rules, fail to enforce them or rule with a “because I said so” iron grip are less effective.

Click here for the entire article.

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