How to life

Bad teens 'not fault of parents'

Bad behaviour among teenagers is not the fault of parenting getting worse, say researchers.

A report from the Nuffield Foundation says today’s parents are taking a more active role in their children’s lives than parents two decades ago.

Parents are spending more time with their teenagers and are more likely to monitor their children’s whereabouts than parents in the 1980s.

There was "no evidence of a decline in parenting," said researchers.

Problem behaviour among teenagers might be more likely to be caused by peer pressure or the influence of youth culture, suggested Frances Gardner, from Oxford University’s Department of Social Policy and Social Work.

Professor Gardner, who carried out the research for the social policy charity, the Nuffield Foundation, found no evidence to support the idea that more parents were failing to control their children.

Time together

The study found 70% of young people were regularly spending time with their mothers in 2006 compared to 62% in 1986 - and the time spent with fathers had risen from 47% to 52%.

Parents are also more likely to have a tighter control on their children’s movements.

In 1986, 79% of parents expected to know where their children were going, which had risen to 85% in 2006.

There was also an increase in parents wanting to know what their teenage children were doing - up from 47% to 66%.

However researchers found young people were increasingly reliant on their parents, living with them for longer, which can make parenting more stressful.

There had been a particular increase in depression among parents in one-parent and low-income families - with a 50% increase in parents of the poorest families with depression between 1986 and 2006.

"It seems that many aspects of parenting may have improved but parents can’t do it all on their own," said Professor Gardner.

"We now have to consider whether external influences, such as peer pressure or wider cultural influences are playing a part, given the rising number of young people with problem behaviour in the UK today," he added.

BBC News
July 31, 2009