Teens who spend quality time with parents are more likely to pursue further education

Teens who didn't report close relationships were more likely to rate further study as unimportant.
Teens who didn't report close relationships were more likely to rate further study as unimportant. Photo: Getty Images

Teenagers who spend quality time with their parents are more likely to pursue further education, according to the results of a new study.

Researchers from the University of Warwick analysed data from an annual survey, the United Kingdom Household Longitudinal Study involving 4427 adolescents. Factors relating to family emotional closeness, bullying, friendship, homework, extracurricular activities and students' perceptions of their parents' interest in their education were all examined.

Lead researcher Dr Dimitra Hartas and her team, also analysed students' responses to questions about topics including visiting art galleries, discussing books at home, how many nights a week they completed homework and their relationships with their parents and siblings.

The results of the study, published in the Journal of Youth Studies, uncovered a number of factors associated with whether or not students, who ranged in age from 10 – 15 years, wanted to continue their studies after they turned 16.

Key findings included:

  • Students with higher self-efficacy (confidence in their own ability to solve problems) were more likely to rate further education as important.
  • Students with lower wellbeing were 18 per cent less likely to choose university education.
  • How close students felt to their parents was also important – those who didn't report close relationships were more likely to rate further study as unimportant.

Interestingly, what researchers termed "cultural capital," in other words participating in cultural activities such as going to museums, galleries and concerts, was associated with students' desire to pursue further study. This was even more important than attending homework clubs or extra-curricular activities when it came to students' educational aspirations.

In a statement, Dr Hartas said, "These findings have significant implications for family and educational policy, especially with regard to 'raising aspirations' and reducing early school leaving. They also raise the issue of reconsidering the role of the home environment as a web of emotionally and intellectually charged relationships between parents and children rather than an extension of the school day."

"Filial dynamics such as emotional closeness to parents and cultural capital were better predictors than more school-driven parent-child interactions," she added.

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Previous research has found that teenagers who leave school early are two and a half times more likely to be unemployed, earn lower wages, have poorer health or be involved in criminal activities. 

In Australia the minimum school leaving age is now 17 years. 

Do you find it hard to spend quality time with your teen?

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