Fighting with Your Teens Might Actually Be Good for Them

Family Matters on 06.20.12
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Parenting is an exhausting task and sometimes you might feel like you just don't have another fight in you, but don't be too quick to back down. It turns out that arguing with your teens might actually be really good for them. A new study out of the University of Virginia found that teens who argue with their parents are more likely to resist the peer pressure of drugs and alcohol. The reason why is because teens who are allowed to openly express their opinions show more confidence at home are able to translate that skill into backing up their own viewpoints and resist peer pressure.

The study recorded 150 13-year-olds and their mothers for eight minutes while they argued. Most of the arguments reportedly focused on ongoing topics such as curfews and allowances. The teens were then surveyed three years later to find out their experience with drugs and alcohol. The students who were able to back up their arguments and stand their ground were much more likely to have resisted the pressure to try drugs and alcohol.

This, of course, does not mean that you should start picking fights with your children just to increase their chances of resisting peer pressure nor does it mean that huge screaming matches are going to necessarily be productive. But what it does mean is that parents should encourage children to justify their arguments and then they should really listen to the argument before offering their rebuttal. In addition, parents must lead by example by using solid debating skills themselves and not flying off the handle or giving in because they don't have the energy to fight the kids.

Joanna Chango, a clinical psychology graduate student at who worked on the study says, "If they're able to learn how to be confident and persuasive with their parents, then they'll be able to hopefully do the same with their peers."

So the next time you want to lose your mind because of the fighting that's going on between you and your teen (or really any age child for that matter), just remember that fighting the right way is teaching them an important lesson, even if it is exhausting.

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