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Family Connectedness

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Adolescent risk behaviors have been a focus of research for many years as scientists try to understand what influences are important, and what can be done to prevent risks.

One focus of recent literature is the impact of family connectedness on teenage health.

Research tells us that family connectedness has a positive influence on adolescent risk behaviors such as substance use, interpersonal violence, emotional distress, and sexual behaviors. Many factors that can effect a teenager’s development, health, and behavior — but one major factor is their social environment.

Studies have shown again and again the significance of family connectedness and the tremendous influence it can have on adolescent health. With parental support, communication, and interaction between teens and parents, youth have an increased opportunity to live healthier, more productive lives and are less likely to participate in health risk behaviors.

Intervention strategies to promote family connectedness can be as simple as participating in a family board game or even a family dinner.

It is important to emphasize parent-child connectedness as soon as possible in order to promote healthy relationships and to prevent risky adolescent behaviors before they develop.

Family connectedness would seem to be the simplest factor to assist adolescents in developing healthy behaviors and relationships, but as health professionals it is our responsibility to understand the importance of family and to continue to find ways to help families incorporate connectedness throughout their children’s lives.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.