Topic one
Parenting Teenagers:
relationships and behaviour
Why Parenting Teenagers:
relationships & behaviour?
• Features frequently in calls to parenting
• Highlighted by Capability Scotland’s 1 in 4
What did we use?
• Data from calls to helplines
• Review of existing research
• Survey of disabled parents and parents of
disabled teenagers
• Feedback from services and academics on
draft report to check relevance
What do we know?
• Less support for parents of teens
• Lots of calls to parenting helplines – time when
parents struggle
• Disability excluded from most mainstream
research on families
• Most research on 2-parent heterosexual families
• Lots of research on ‘social problems’ less on
everyday issues
• Conflict can be useful for teen
• How, with whom and why conflict happens
is important
– Privacy boundaries
– Learning to manage conflict
– Developing emotional responses
• Inter-parental conflict can draw teens in
• Parents need support to manage own
behaviour and emotions and cope with
Is conflict seen as a typical part of growing
Do parents of boys and girls have different
experiences of conflict?
How can services support parents with
different types of family conflict?
Communication and
• Good communication important in families
• Can contribute to positive outcomes for
• The issue of balancing support and control
is complex
• Not clear where parents would get support
to develop communication skills
How do services support parents over
deciding appropriate levels of supporting
and control?
How can services help parents to
negotiate agreements that work for both
• Parents cope best when they can enjoy
their teenager’s increasing independence
• Parents sometimes feel anxious and
rejected which leads them to curtail their
teenager’s activities
• Parents need support to see growing
independence as healthy and appropriate
How can parents be supported to be less
anxious over independence and understand
age-appropriate behaviour?
What are the implications for lone parents?
Parenting together
• Parents agreeing about their approach is
more important than who does what
• Fathers are less likely to seek formal
support and more likely to rely on their
What are the implications for lone
What are the implications for supporting
Divorce and re-partnering
• Close relationships with stepfathers tend
to follow close relationships with mothers
• Teenagers relationships with their fathers
are the same after mothers remarry
• Negative comments about fathers after
separation affect some boys more than
Does family change affect families with
teens differently to families with younger
How can services best communicate with
parents over issues around separation and
Control and monitoring
• Communication often works better than
coercion in monitoring teenage activities
• Teenagers tell parents less than parents
• Closeness of relationships and agreement
over authority help information sharing
• Mobile phones are often used to negotiate
movement and curfews
How can parents balance their parental
authority with respecting privacy?
How can parents be supported in keeping
up good relationships where sharing
information is usual?
How can services help in managing
expectations over what, and how much,
information to share?
Families affected by
Generally a large amount of similarity
• Some differences – Both mothers and fathers are more likely to
be involved in disabled teen’s life
– Enjoy seeing social development
– Resources and attitudes can restrain
opportunities for development
Families affected by
– Sometimes knowing about their teenagers
involves other people more
– Impact of disabled parent on teenager
– Used mobile phones more
– More communication over activities
– Wish to ‘protect’ disabled parent
What helps parents cope?
Pride in seeing teen develop socially
Enjoying the maturation of their child
Being supportive
Viewing themselves as warm and
affectionate to their teenager
• Seeing their teenager acquire new skills
What now?
Discussion groups:
1. Explore implications & identify areas where
you think action could be taken
2. How could action be taken?
3. In logbooks – other thoughts, reflections,
potential areas for action / development