Time parents spend with teens linked to mental health, new study finds

The time that parents, particularly fathers, spend with their teens is important to mental health, according to a new study.

Home and phone interviews were done with 200 families over a seven-year period. Questions were asked about the children’s social skills and self-worth.

Findings include a peak in social time in the early- to mid-adolescent years with a decline as teens get older. Second-born children had a slower decline in social time than their first-born siblings.

Teens who spent more time with their fathers with other people present had better social skills with their peers and those who spent more time alone with their fathers had higher self-esteem.

The study was done by the Social Science Research Institute at Pennsylvania State University and published in the August 2012 edition of Child Development. It was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.