FN Moms, how often do you let your children voice out their concerns at home? Do they have a say in important decisions, or do they simply do what you tell them to? According to a new study published in the journal Child Development, the way you interact with your children can have long-term effects on the way they handle peer pressure in the future.

Apparently, getting into the right arguments with your children can help them develop better backbones which, in turn, can help them stave off pressure to do drugs or abuse alcohol. Training them to follow your orders without room for negotiations, however, will simply create a bendable personality—one that easily bows down to other people’s suggestions.

To prove this theory, researchers studied a diverse group of 157 adolescents and the way they communicated with their mothers. In the first setting, mother and child were asked to talk about a quarrelsome issue of the child’s choice (for example, grades). In the second setting, researchers observed how the child asked the mother for advice and rated the latter for emotional support. Based on the results of the experiment, those who backed down too easily were more prone to fall for peer pressure compared to those who were able to argue their side effectively.

Allowing your children to stand up on their own and make their own mistakes is better than training them to do exactly as you say. Sure, having kids who obey you without putting up a fight seems like the perfect arrangement now, but as your children get older, they will inevitably be exposed to environments that have a less than positive influence. Unless you’ve successfully taught your children how to think for themselves, they’ll be more likely to be swept away by these temptations.

At the same time, this doesn't mean you should let your teens "win" every argument or get into a shouting match with you. The key to raising children with backbone is to give them the room to discuss their side and to provide them with helpful advice. This helps them make more informed decisions as well as solidifies your role as a parent.


For more on peer pressure, check out these studies:

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(Screencap from Because I Said So courtesy of Universal Pictures)

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