Research done by Bannink Broeren and other associates on some adolescent students in high school for a period of two years was aimed at finding the relationship between parent-adolescent attachment and adolescents’ negative life events and mental health problems. According to the authors, the life events experienced by the adolescents directly affected the mental health status and parent-adolescent attachment. This life event causes undesirable behaviors like crime and attempted suicide to manifest at adolescent age. These mental health problems are associated with severe co-morbidity including lagging behind in social development skills, crime, and a prominent risk of suicide. These mental disorders affected by substandard parent-adolescent attachment pose a high risk for a person’s adult life with the likelihood of developing psychiatric disorders (Bannink et al., 2013).
To obtain better results, Bannink and associates conducted the research for a period of two years and made comprehensive follow-up on the student’s life events. According to the findings of the study, the students showed that the life events were interconnected with the mental status of an individual as well as with the parent-adolescent attachment. The quality of a parent’s connection and attachment to the adolescent student had an impact on the mental status and coping with life events. Students who were less attached to their parents were found to often perform poorly in social life development and commit other crimes. The mental status of adolescents with poor parent-adolescent attachment was found to deteriorate, especially at this stage of life. The more unstable an adolescent was, the more undesirable behaviors they committed (Bannink et al., 2013).
Poor and unstable mental health status of the adolescents worsened particularly if the parent-adolescent attachment was unfavorable. These effects surpassed the impacts posed by each individual factor on the adolescent. Adolescents involved in one or more life events had an increased risk of mental health problems in which they received a substandard parent-adolescent attachment from their parents. Understanding an adolescent is very crucial and helps in shaping their lives and evading risky life events such as crimes and suicide (Bannink et al., 2013).
Results of the study on the high school after two years concluded that there were effects from interactions and attachment between parents and the adolescents. In addition, negative life events in conjunction with substandard parent-adolescent caused serious risks to the mental health of the adolescent (Bannink et al., 2013).
The parenting proportions such as parental authority, parenting styles, especially the authoritative type, and psychosomatic control create an attachment between parents and their children. The results however are also determined by the adolescent’s character traits such as self-esteem, relationships, attachment with other peers, and autonomy. Parents’ mode of raising their children also determines how well related and the nature of their attachment then and later in life (Bannink et al., 2013).
Life events that affect an adolescent and that may jeopardize parent-adolescent attachment include cases such as family breakups, physical and mental illness of one or both parents, suicide attempts, substance abuse, and early parenthood among others. When the adolescents are exposed to these challenges, they are faced with life challenges and lack parent-adolescent attachment to help them concur life challenges such as difficulties in social life developments. However, with quality parent-adolescent attachment, the mental health of an adolescent is positively influenced. A quality attachment between a parent and an adolescent has proved to provide a protective factor to mental health, leading to better life choices, confidence, and desirable behavior. Therefore, with quality attachments between the parent and the adolescent, mental problems such as severe depression in life and hopelessness are evaded (Bannink et al., 2013).
The importance of creating a healthy relationship between parents and their adolescents is to create an easier way of openness, which is important in helping them make better life choices (Moretti & Peled, 2004). However, as a parent, it is sometimes difficult to create a close relationship with an adolescent because they go through many life-changing phases. In addition, adolescents are in amazement of life and other changes in and around them, and they invest too much time trying to discover their personality and life as young adults. Therefore, it is important that a parent starts building a healthy relationship and provide quality parent-adolescent attachment early in life. This creates a sense of trust and the adolescents have confidence turning to their parents for support making decisions and solving life puzzles.
Life uncertainties may stress adolescents and eventually cause mental health problems such as depression, which can be a hindrance to healthy styles of coping with life stressors. It is also important to build a healthy attachment because the parent will be able to notice a problem likely to occur to the adolescents, such as the commencement of bad behavior like substance abuse. When parents are involved in their adolescents’ lives, they are able to intervene and help them overcome challenges and make better decisions (Moretti & Peled, 2004). These better decisions may stop a child from committing a felony and ending up depressed. These adolescents develop as responsible young adults with a purpose in life and contribute to psychological and social adjustment.
When children reach adolescent age, the time spent with parents reduces considerably while that spent with peers increases. During this phase, the adolescents go through sociopsychological, cognitive, and neurological development (Moretti & Peled, 2004). Nonetheless, parents continue to influence the adolescent’s development by offering quality attachment. The parent-adolescent attachment has major influences on emotional, cognitive, social development and overall functioning. This prevents the adolescents from engaging in risky behaviors, fewer mental health problems and contributes to improved social skills and other coping approaches (Moretti & Peled, 2004).
During adolescence, young adults go through many changes and developments in the realms of cognitive, social, and neurological changes. Consequently, the adolescents are caught up in a social-cognitive dilemma for the youth, which is caused by the uncertainty of integrating new and varied experiences in accordance with the surroundings and oneself. Parent-adolescent attachment is crucial to help adolescents go through these changes with confidence (Moretti & Peled, 2004). However, most adolescents do not disclose their fears to parents and end up caught up in confusion on how to approach certain issues.
For instance, my son of sixteen years old had difficulties adapting to changes around him and it affected him mentally. After a period of depression, he attempted to commit suicide. It was a horrible situation because it got me off guard. He was confined to a mental institution to help understand his fear and access help. After about one week, he was released for good behavior and I took over to strengthen our relationship so that he would open up to me more to avoid such an occurrence in the future. I reviewed our parent-adolescent attachment to determine what could have gone wrong. However, I realized that my son had fewer times to interact with the parents and more with his peers. Nonetheless, I came up with strategies of how we could spend more time together and involve in more activities opening us to closer interactions and openness. Nevertheless, after a few months, my son ended up making bad choices in life, which resulted in harm to another person. This was a terrible crime and the authorities had to take action by incarcerating him in a juvenile correctional institution.
Bannink, R., Broeren, S., van de Looij – Jansen, P. M., & Raat, H. (2013). Associations between Parent-Adolescent Attachment Relationship Quality, Negative Life Events and Mental Health. Plos ONE, 8(11), 1-7. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080812
Moretti, M. M., & Peled, M. (2004). Adolescent-parent attachment: Bonds that support healthy development. Paediatrics & child health, 9(8), 551.