Presenting issues: Parental Relationships

December 30th 2018

Presenting issues: Parental Relationships

Of the young people who come to Jigsaw for support, around 1 in 8 of them are having relationship difficulties with parents. We see a peak in this issue among 12-17 year olds, and particularly among young men.

All young people experience arguments and disagreements with parents. A certain amount of conflict is helpful and useful for re-establishing boundaries as young people become more independent from parents. But when conflicts are frequent, very intense or heated, they can have a negative impact on well-being.

What does the research say?

Early research in this area suggested that conflict with fathers had a greater impact on well-being than with mothers, but recent research has shown that conflict with either parent can have a negative impact on us. Interestingly, how a young person perceives or interprets conflict with their parent has a greater impact on well-being, compared to how their parent perceived the same conflict. Research in an Irish context from the My World Survey tells us that young people who report high levels of criticism from their mother or father are more likely to report higher levels of anxiety and depression.

One Good Adult ®

As we move through adolescence and into adulthood, it is common to spend more time with friends and outside our home than we did when we were younger.

However, keeping a connection to a trusted adult is still really important. One of the key findings from the My World Survey was the importance of a trusted adult to the well-being of young people. The presence of One Good Adult is a key indicator of how well a young person is connected, self-confident, future looking and can cope with problems. On the other hand, the absence of One Good Adult ® is linked to higher levels of distress, anti-social behaviour and an increased risk for suicidal behaviour. Over 70% of young people in Ireland reported that they received very high or high support from a special adult. For 50% of adolescents in Ireland, their parent is their “one good adult”. 

Jigsaw recognises the importance of a supportive adult in a young person's life, whether that be a parent or a coach, teacher, sibling or grandparent. That is why Jigsaw develops and delivers workshops such as One Good Coach and One Good Adult. These workshops are delivered in communitities, clubs and workplaces across Ireland to educate and empower adults on how they can support young people's mental health.  

This blog post is one of a series on the presenting issues that our young people face when coming to Jigsaw.

This blog was influenced by the following research:

Dooley, B., Fitzgerald, A., & Giollabhui, N. M. (2015). The risk and protective factors associated with depression and anxiety in a national sample of Irish adolescents. Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine, 32(01), 93-105.

Weymouth, B. B., Buehler, C., Zhou, N., & Henson, R. A. (2016). A Meta‐Analysis of Parent–Adolescent Conflict: Disagreement, Hostility, and Youth Maladjustment. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 8(1), 95-112.