AIFS sheds light on parents' relationships with their adolescent children

Date: Jan 14, 2015

The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) released a report on 22 July 2013 that reveals some interesting facts and figures about the sometimes stormy relationships between adolescent children and their parents.

In fact, the report - titled Australian Families with Children and Adolescents - demonstrates that these relationships may not be as stormy as we might think.

Of the adolescents (between the ages of 15 and 17) who took part in the study, an impressive 72 per cent said they were "highly satisfied" with the relationship they had with their parents.

According to Professor Alan Hayes, director of the AIFS, "on a rating scale of zero to ten, most adolescents rank their parents at eight or above, indicating high levels of satisfaction with the quality of the relationship they have with their parents".

And, it would seem, the feeling is mutual. Of the parents who contributed to the report, 82 per cent of mothers were "highly satisfied" with their relationship with their adolescent children, while a lower - but still impressive - 72 per cent of fathers felt the same way.

However, things start to look a little less rosy when it comes to parents' personal relationships with their step-children.

Ruth Weston, AIFS' assistant director (research), said these relationships proved more problematic than those between biological parents and their adolescent children.

Only around 57 per cent of step-fathers were "highly satisfied" with the relationship they had with their step-children, while just 42 per cent of step-mothers shared this sentiment.

The numbers drop even more dramatically when the study gets to what step-children think of their step-parents - 48 per cent of boys said they were "highly satisfied" with their step-parents and a disturbing 38 per cent of girls agreed.

"There are a lot of complexities in step-families," explained Ms Weston.

"In times past, you typically became a step-parent when a biological parent died. However, these days it's more likely to come about through separation and re-partnering, so children may have one or two step-parents."

Adolescents who are forced to regularly move between new households and balance new relationships with new parents can - evidently - find it difficult to adjust.

If you are separating from your partner and have children, make sure you take their feelings into consideration.

Should you need family law advice from a respected divorce law firm, contact Craddock Murray Neumann.