(ABC News) – When children are small, their faces light up at the sight of mom and dad. But a quick lead a few years, and the same parents eventually get eye rolls.
Adolescence is a time to navigate identity and peer pressure from every angle, but what makes some adolescents thrive while others struggle with anxiety and depression
While previous reports report environmental risk factors such as poverty and racism for anxiety and depression among teenagers a new study adds another one: a fracture in the parent-child bond. The study moved through adolescence, her attachment to her parents changed significantly, with the biggest drop in middle school. The degree of attachment at the end of high school stabilized, but the more a teenager felt estranged in his youth, the less likely it was that they trusted and communicated with their parents.
Dr. Suniya Luthar, co-author of the study, told ABC News that parents can prevent these feelings of mistrust from developing.
"It would be helpful for parents at this time to express adolescence about all the capriciousness, distance, and irritability and feelings of love and affirmation," said Luthar, an endowed professor of psychology at Arizona State University.
The study included 335 children who were in sixth grade in 1
They found higher rates of emotional alienation from parents were associated with more emotional issues. Preteens in particular felt more than one and a half times as alienated in middle school as at an earlier age and reported a threefold loss of confidence. As a result, communication seems to have fallen about four times as much.
Teenagers who felt more alienated and therefore lost confidence in their mothers (more than fathers) were more likely to be more scared of 12th grade. This also applied to depression.
A surprise: The more communication increased at the end of high school, the more likely it was that the teenager experienced symptoms of depression.
The study was published in the Journal of Development and Psychopathology, parents did not ask about their children, but Luthar said it was because the teenager's feelings are more important. Parents can protect the mental health of their teens if at least one of them has a strong, supportive relationship with the teenager.
But Luthar added that parents must first take care of themselves when they are there for their children.
"Parents, especially mothers, also hurt emotionally," said Luthar.
During each crisis, they act as first responders, which means that they do their best to spread a stressful situation.
This puts mothers at risk of their own depression, Luthar said, and advised mothers to focus on their own mental well-being first, so they can make sure their teens feel and feel connected.
"Do not pour from an empty or leaky cup," she said. "Fill it out first."