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How arguing with your mother is a good thing and stops teens going off the rails

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“Since I was 5 years old, (16 now), my mother and I would argue about everything. We both enjoyed a good battle of wits; so much so that it would embarrass my friends. They would be like, "How can you talk to your mum like that?”

But we rarely ever fought, we just argued, it was just our way of communicating. She now lives 1000 miles away, but the training I received from our daily debates has served me very well.

I never do anything I don't want to do, (peer pressure), I take everything with a grain of salt, and I never accept anything as the gospel without real proof. I'm nobody's fool, thanks mum.”  - Asa

Teenagers who argue with their mothers are less likely to succumb to peer pressure and turn to drink and drugs, say child psychologists.

Instead of bottling up opinions and feelings, it is best if older children are open and candid with their mothers, according to a study by university researchers.

And it is often disagreements rather than heart-to-hearts that help the most.

If a teenager can stand up to their mother in a row about a girlfriend or boyfriend or poor grades then they are more likely to resist peer pressure, says the study.

It is certainly better to have the occasional disagreement than not engage in face-to-face conversations at all, it adds.

The study shows that such arguments have the most beneficial effect when they are with a mother rather than father, other family member or friend.

This is because teenagers tend to use more reasoned arguments when being told off by a mother but resort to shouting, insults, or whining with others.

Child psychologists from the University of Virginia analysed the behaviour of both teenagers – studied progressively from aged 13 to 16 – and their parents.

They found: ‘Teens who more openly express their own viewpoints in discussions with their mums, even if their viewpoints disagree, are more likely than others to resist peer pressure to use drugs or drink.

‘Teens who hold their own in family discussions were better at standing up to peer influences to use drugs or alcohol. Among the best protected were teens who had learned to argue well with their mums about such topics as grades, money, household rules, and friends.’

While the research suggests having disagreements can help, the important point is the regular contact with a parent, and a mother in particular.

The report added: ‘Teens who are secure in their ability to turn to their mothers under stress are less likely to end up feeling overly dependent upon close friends.

Thus, they are less likely to be influenced by a friend’s behaviour.’

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Updated 7 Years ago

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