Parents’ Nonviolence Messages To Their Kids May Be More Powerful Than They Think
While some parents might worry their positive messages won’t stick throughout the pre-teen years, new research from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign suggests otherwise.
U of I social work professor Rachel Garthe surveyed more than a thousand middle schoolers in a low-income, urban area about their parents’ views on how to handle conflict.
Over the course of a school year, she also asked students whether they engaged in different forms of physical violence or psychological aggression with a romantic partner.
Garthe said she found kids who reported their parents support nonviolence were less likely to perpetrate violence in their own romantic relationships.
“We often think parents lose influence a hold over adolescents’ behaviors in middle school years, that peers kind of take over,” Garthe said.
But her study suggests parents’ nonviolence messages to their children remained strong across the middle school years.The trend held even if the messages kids received were mixed; for example, if parents said they condoned fighting in certain circumstances.
Garthe said her study and other research in the field support the value of teaching children about healthy relationships early on.
“The sooner we’re teaching these healthy relationships, the better off adolescents will be,” Garthe said. “If they have these strong models early on, that will help prevent future aggression in other relationships.”
Follow Christine on Twitter: @CTHerman