A recent study shows that the time spent with our teenagers makes a real difference. The more “committed time” you spend with your teen, the less likely they are to engage in delinquent acts.
Jennifer Senior, the author of All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood” wondered about parental leave.
The study, published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, looked at the influence of time spent with the baby during the months following birth on his behavior, school performance and emotional well-being. A distinction was made between the “engaged time” and the “accessible time” of the parent made available to the child.
The three sociologists who worked on this study came to the same conclusion: there is no link between the time spent at home with the baby after birth and his well-being in the following years. On the other hand, this study emphasizes the importance of time spent with children during their adolescence, a period known as “hormonal turbulence”. This raises a question: would it be more important to take parental leave during adolescence?our children?
The Psychology of Development
Historically, it has only been twenty years that psychologists have considered adolescence to be a crucial period in child development. Before, adolescence was underestimated and the sacred years were considered to be between 0 and 3 years old. This hypothesis has recently been refuted: adolescence is the most vulnerable period and when the child most needs support and supervision.Note that for girls, the period when they need the most support is between the ages of 13-14, while for boys, it is around 16-17.
Puberty and adolescence expert Laurence Steinberg compares teenagers “to cars with big throttles and weak brakes.” Adolescence is a time rich in dopamine where many synaptic connections are created. “Teenagers tend to overestimate the benefits they will get from taking risks,” writes Jennifer Senior. Moreover, Steinberg tells us that the time of day when teenagers are more inclined to take risks or do bad things is between 3 and 6 p.m. on weekdays, when no one is home to supervise them. This explains, among other things, the relevance of parental leave during this period.
Is it possible?
A parenting expert, Jo Wiltchire, reports that “a staggering number of mothers see teenage maternity leave as the only way toprovide the support that adolescents need during this time”. For his part, Steinberg wonders what the world of work and family would look like if employers allowed parents a certain number of afternoons off per year devoted to their older children.
Anna Tyzack had the chance to experience this new way of experiencing parental leave. Her mother went back to work when she was just 5 weeks old and she did the same when her brother Will was born. Years later, she made up for the time she had lost with her children by taking eight years off work to spend as much time with them as possible.
But when the kids no longer need that support, it's time to get back to work. Anna says that returning to work has been a difficult ordeal for her mother. It was hard for her to find a job in the same field, with the same salary and the same benefits as before. “I think my mother was right to do that. I no longer have any memories of the nanny who took care of me during the first years of my life, but I have many happy memories of the school holidays spent with my mother,” says Anna.
To be consulted on Planète F
The need for the presence of parents in adolescence
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