Many parents of adolescents require in depth support

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adolescent child can be of great assistance to parents. Many parents of adolescents require in- depth support to develop the skills that are necessary to support their children through adolescence. A number of therapeutic interventions have evolved from attachment theory, although the majority of these focus on families with younger children or on marital relationships (71). Fortunately, therapeutic interventions are emerging for families with adolescent children, and many show considerable promise in reducing risk behavior in adolescents (12,72,73). Parental interventions that focus on attachment and the development of sensitivity, attunement and conflict negotiation can be particularly beneficial (74). Changing the myth of adolescent detachment, however, requires efforts that extend beyond the mental health system. Public health initiatives that encourage parents to stay connected with their adolescents would help to change the general impression that parents and society hold about adolescent disinterest and rebellion. Support within the educational system, emphasizing the continued importance of attachment to parents and other adults during adolescence, would also be beneficial. In particular, educational programming that supports attachment during the transition from elementary to high school through bridging programs that connect youth with teachers, structuring of schools and classrooms to encourage connection (eg, ‘school-within-the-school’ programs), and parent education would go far in reducing school dropout rates during this sensitive developmental period. In summary, evidence clearly points to the continued importance of adolescent-parent attachment as a determinant of health during this development phase and beyond. It is essential for mental health and other health and education professionals to be knowledgeable about adolescent development and the value of adolescent-parent attachment. Shifting our assumptions about adolescence as a period of detachment and rebellion to a view that better fits the reality of this developmental period and stresses the importance of staying connected is well overdue.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: The authors acknowledge the support of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Institute of Gender and Health, and the Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health through a New Emerging Team grant directed by Dr Marlene M Moretti (#31-711036 6319).
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  • Fall '15
  • Dr. Valeria Rus
  • Dr Marlene M Moretti

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